Understanding Essential Vitamins: What They Really Are

Vitamins are crucial micronutrients needed by the body to carry out normal functions. They provide nutrition, bolster immunity, help strengthen bones, and repair cell damage. Every day our blood carries these nutrients and oxygen to essential organs of the body to help sustain life and produce muscles, bone, and skin.

Vitamins are essential to life. However, they are not produced in your body and are derived from the food you eat. Vitamins are organic substances that a person needs in varying amounts and are found in small quantities in the food you consume.

Vitamin Basics

Vitamins are organic compounds, and there are currently 13 recognized vitamins. Vitamins are commonly classified as fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. They are often called micronutrients because the body only needs tiny amounts of them.

Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. These vitamins dissolve in fat and get stored in fatty tissues and the liver. They can stay in the body for more extended periods and accumulate in your fat tissues and liver.

Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complexes such as Vitamin B6, B12, and Folate are water-soluble vitamins. These vitamins must dissolve in water before the body can absorb them. This function means they do not stay in the body for a long time and usually leave the body when you urinate.

You need a more regular supply of water-soluble vitamins. Diet, lifestyle, etc., can all play a role in whether or not someone needs to supplement a vitamin. Vitamin deficiency can significantly affect your health and can even cause diseases such as rickets, scurvy, and blindness.

Take time to research and consult your doctor on the best vitamin supplement to take. Also, make sure to look for suitable vitamins that don’t contain unnecessary ingredients or tons of added sugars. These can counteract the purpose of taking vitamins in the first place.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a retinoid that includes retinal, retinol, and retinyl esters. Vitamin A is essential for immune function, good eye health, reproduction, and cellular communication. Deficiency in this vitamin can cause blindness and keratomalacia, where the front layer of the eye becomes dry and cloudy.

To prevent this, you can look into taking a vitamin A gummy to supplement your vitamin A requirements of 900 micrograms (mcg) for adult men and 700 mcg for women. You can also consume food rich in vitamin A, including pumpkins, kale, carrots, broccoli, liver, cheese, and eggs.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps in red blood cell formation, DNA production, and is essential for healthy nerve function and cell metabolism. Adults are recommended to have at least 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 a day. Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause neurological problems and some types of anemia.

You can get your vitamin B12 from animal sources, including eggs, fish, dairy products, shellfish meat, and poultry. Doctors often advise people with a vegan diet to take vitamin B12 supplements to complement their strict non-meat and dairy diet. Vegetarians may also need to look into consuming more B12, depending on their diet.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant that helps your body reduce the effect of free radicals. It enables the immune system and contributes to collagen production, bone formation, and the healing of wounds. It also helps your body absorb needed iron and is helpful when you are sick.

It is essential to get the right amount of vitamin C. Deficiency can cause scurvy that can cause gum bleeding, teeth loss, poor tissue growth, and prolonged healing of wounds. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C.

The daily recommended amount is 65 to 90 mg a day. However, the upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. Too much vitamin C supplement can cause nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, vomiting, and insomnia so take only the recommended amount.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often associated with exposure to sunlight. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Vitamin D has many essential functions, including regulating phosphorus and calcium absorption.

You may need to supplement during the winter months or in cold climates where there is not enough time outside. Deficiency in vitamin D may cause rickets and osteomalacia, which is the softening of the bones. It can also cause aches, tiredness, severe muscle pain, and stress fractures.

Eating eggs, beef liver, fatty fish, and mushrooms can help provide your body with the required vitamin D. You need 10 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D a day. Still, some studies suggest a higher dose of 25 to 100 micrograms helps maintain optimal levels.

Remember Your Vitamins

A well-balanced diet that contains vegetables and fruits should be the primary source of needed vitamins. Many people take multivitamins and supplements, but you should be careful not to exceed the required dose. Regular exercise and proper vitamin intake can help your body function properly and help you reach those health milestones.

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