Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Joe Starks0
Know your substances: Vitamins
Vitamins are good for us, or at least that is what it says on every juice packet to which usually vitamins have been artificially added. Is it the same though to get vitamins from a pill like it is when getting your vitamins from a fruit? What are vitamins anyway and why are they so different from each other? Do I need to get them every day? In this article we will answer these crucial to our health questions. Because vitamins are important, that much is true.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins may share the same name but as substances they are pretty diverse. What they have in common is that they are all substances absolutely necessary for your body to avoid serious illness. So even though they are not chemically related, their health benefits are equally important.
There are 13 types of vitamins your body absolutely needs. These are A, C, D, K, E and the B vitamins (folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12). You can get all these vitamins from a healthy, balanced diet. None of the vitamins is rare, so if you eat some of all types of foods from the food pyramid you will get them all. Our bodies also construct vitamin D and K. For vitamin D to be formed, exposure of our skin to sunlight is needed, so people who live in countries where daylight is scarce during the winter might be lacking in vitamin D.
If you are eating a very strict vegan diet you should get your vitamin B-12 supplementary through tablets or vegan foods fortified with B-12.
While it is best to get your vitamins from fresh food, few of us can or want to actually eat an absolutely balanced diet. In that case it is best to take a supplement. Be careful to take supplements that have all vitamins and minerals. Do not confuse multivitamin supplements with protein supplements, which can be also fortified with vitamins. The latter have too much protein for the average person’s diet in them and don’t meet your vitamin demand easily. Be careful never to take supplements that have more than 100% of your daily need in vitamins in them, unless your doctor prescribed them for a sickness or old age.
Do you need vitamins every day?
Some vitamins can be stored in the body if you eat an excess of them so that you don’t have to consume them daily, just often. Other vitamins like vitamin C need to be ingested frequently since the body neither can produce nor store it. It is best to get your daily needs of vitamins every day and not leave it for another day or eat more of a vitamin one day to last for the next. Since diets rarely are that perfect though a supplement may just be the answer for many athletes. However, if you have it in you to improve your diet, leave the supplements aside as fresh food is always the best source for nutrients.
Is there too much of a good thing when it comes to vitamins?
Some vitamins don’t stay in the body for long so the toxic levels of those are unknown, but for many other vitamins we know that you can have dire side effects from getting too much.
Getting too many vitamins from your food is very difficult to achieve. So most times when someone has taken an overdose of vitamins it is due to over-supplementation. Taking too many supplements just because you think it’s a magic health pill can get you pretty sick.
Some of the side effects are nausea, vomiting, headaches and a very unpleasant taste in your mouth. The side effects get worse the more vitamins you ingest. The cure is usually simply to lower the dosage of vitamins you take in.
Ingesting the correct amount of vitamins is vital for us to retain our good health and to prevent a lot of diseases. It is best to get all your vitamins from fresh food, but since that is very hard to achieve for most, taking a multivitamin supplement can be your answer.
Be careful not to take supplements in which the vitamins exceed the daily recommended dose per pill. Some people have special needs when it comes to vitamins, like when they have digestive problems, had weight loss surgery or during old age. To be certain what your needs are if you fear you might be in a danger group of getting too few vitamins you should seek professional advice.