Are Vitamins Vital For a Healthy Lifestyle?

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Vitamins are organic compounds that you need in small quantities. 13 Vitamins are essential to your health. Different vitamins play different roles and a person requires a different quantity of each vitamin to stay healthy. 

Types of Vitamins

There are 13 types of Vitamin namely A, C, D, E, K, and B vitamins which are Thiamine, riboflavin, Niacin, pantothenic acid, Biotin, B6, B12, and folate. The body uses all of these for a range of metabolic processes such as digestion to proper nerve function. Vitamins are of two types, Fat-soluble and water-soluble.

  • Fat-soluble – Vitamin A, D, E, and K
  • Water-Soluble – Vitamin C and all B vitamins 

Water-soluble vitamins are those that easily dissolve in water and then are easily absorbed in the gut. The body uses what it needs and the kidney flushes out what is in excess. That is why you need a constant supply of these vitamins. 

Our body retains the fat-soluble vitamins that we can use later. Hence these do not need constant replenishing. These vitamins are easily stored in the liver and fatty tissues. 

Need of Vitamins 

When you eat a nutritious well-balanced diet, you generally get all the vitamins you need. The body can also make two of them that is D and K. If someone is not able to get enough vitamins in the food, a dietary supplement or multivitamin may be recommended. For example, vegetarian people often need Vitamin B12. Certain groups have increased nutritional needs such as heavy or endurance sports need additional B6, pregnant women or trying to get pregnant need more folic acid and other prenatal vitamins. 

Is Vitamin Deficiency real

For a long time, vitamin deficiency diseases such as scurvy, rickets, beriberi were common. When nutritional food gained importance, researchers proved that higher doses of certain vitamins in vitamins deficiency cases may help avoid or cure the diseases. 

Just because someone gets a disease due to lack of a particular vitamin does not mean that we should start popping in multivitamin tablets. One must not consume more than recommended daily allowance. 

Each vitamin has a large number of benefits from cold to cancer. However, studies have shown limited to nil preventive benefits of taking a regular multivitamin. In some cases taking too many vitamins can be harmful. 

Bioavailable Vitamins

For some these vitamins are beneficial and for some not so. That shouldn’t be very surprising though. Our bodies are complex. Nutrients we eat interact in various complicated ways. We have now concluded that if someone eats a vitamin doesn’t mean that it is bioavailable. Bioavailable means it is present in the body in a form that our body can easily use. 

Real food has many components. Eating such food makes various components within them available to our bodies in the form and quantity we need. When we eat whole food, we get a lot of other essentials too. For example, an orange provides not only Vitamin C but also Beta Carotene, Calcium, Fiber, and other nutrients. However, a vitamin C supplement is missing all the other really important stuff. 

Take-home message 

The best way to get the optimum amount of bioavailable nutrients including the 13 vitamins we need is not through vitamin supplements. One must eat real and whole food that is rich and high in nutrients and low in calories. Thus one must aim to get vitamins from a balanced diet having a variety of real and whole food.

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