What are vitamins and why are they important
“It’s winter, eat more vitamin C. Does this sound familiar to you? My Mom used to tell me this.
But after a few years of eating healthy, I figured we must consume vitamins every day, not only during the cold season. We’re exposed to environmental harm all year round.
So, if we intend to rely on vitamins, we must understand what they are, why are they important, and how to use them. With this in mind, I gathered all the essential information you need to know about vitamins in the following paragraphs.
Here’s what you’ll learn at the end of this series:
- What are vitamins
- What water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamin means
- How many vitamins exist out there
- Why do you need them
- What do they do
- What happens to your body when you have a deficiency or take too much. Yes, there is such a thing as too many vitamins.
- And finally, you’ll discover the top ten food sources for each vitamin.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are organic substances vital to your health. They’re tiny and invisible but mean everything to your body. Picture them as eleven microscopic superheroes who build a gigantic dome around you and protect you from external foes.
So, where do you find these protectors?
There is a vast range of vitamin supplements on the supermarket shelves. However, the most reliable source is natural food and drinks. This includes everything from fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables to fish, meat, dairy, and even wine.
What are water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins?
There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Water-soluble ones refer to B and C vitamins. They cannot be stored in the body and are excreted through urine. To avoid deficiency, you must consume them regularly.
The fat-soluble type refers to A, D, E, and K vitamins. They need fat to be absorbed, and our body can stock them for a longer period. You don’t need to ingest them daily, however, deficiency may require a daily supplement.
Vitamin overdose is a thing.
As controversial as this sounds, ingesting vitamins in excess can cause an overdose. Some of them are even dangerous. For example, excessive use of vitamin A may damage your liver and bones, or cause headache and double-vision.
Each vitamin has a unique role to play. Part 1
There are eleven types of vitamins out there. In the following paragraphs, I will cover each one of them separately, starting with the fat-soluble and finishing with the water-soluble ones.
Vitamin A is the new orange.
Known as retinol, vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, eyes, skin, and growth in general. We mostly find retinol in foods from animal sources like liver, milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and oily fish.
As I mentioned before, some vitamins are toxic. One of them is vitamin A from animal sources. What happens if you overdose on vitamin A? If taken in excess, it could damage the liver because our body stores it in there. Other side effects could be headaches and double vision.
On the flip side, a deficit of vitamin A can reduce your body’s resistance to infection, lead to poor night vision, or even gradual loss of it.
There is also vitamin A, which comes from vegetable sources.
Our body can also manufacture retinol (vitamin A) by converting carotenoids found in orange-fleshed and dark green vegetables into a ‘healthier retinol.’
Unlike the retinol from animal sources, the carotene converted into retinol is not toxic. A high-intake can cause visible side effects, making your skin slightly orange. But it doesn’t cause any life-threatening damage.
The top 10 sources of Vitamin A from animal sources are lamb’s liver, chicken liver, cod liver oil, butter, double cream, cheddar cheese, brie, eggs, cow’s milk, and creme fraîche.
As for the top 10 best vegetable sources, we have carrots, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, red peppers, spinach, butternut squash, curly kale, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Sunbathing with Vitamin D
Vitamin D requires bathing in the sun and going on vacations. It’s the only vitamin our body can manufacture without the help of food, but when sunlight touches our skin.
Of course, some ailments contain a considerable amount of vitamin D, but the sun is so much fun.
This one is necessary for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It equally contributes to form and develop strong bones and carry out other mineralization processes. Additionally, it lowers the risk of colds, flu, and pneumonia. And, according to the Arthritis Foundation, it may prevent osteoarthritis or at least slow its progression.
The signs and symptoms of low vitamin D in adults are more delicate bones, weaknesses, or pains. It can also harm the growth process in children.
Overconsumption, on the other hand, can affect kidneys and other organs by causing unnecessary calcium deposits.
We cannot always bathe in the sun. In this case, we have foods rich in vitamin D like products of animal origin (dairy, oily fish, eggs), fortified margarine, and breakfast meals.
The top 10 are cod liver oil, red salmon canned in brine, herring fillet, sardines, grilled salmon, margarine, raw tuna, cornflakes, and eggs.
Glowing skin with Vitamin E
We have familiarized ourselves with vitamin E from the face creams and body lotion labels. Besides contributing to skin healing, it also fulfills another vital role. Vitamin E supports our immune system.
It is relatively rare for adults to suffer from deficiencies because this vitamin is present in many foods, including vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, leafy greens, cereals, and seafood. However, keep in mind that the recommended intake per day is between 12 mg and 15 mg.
The top foods rich in vitamin E are sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, rapeseed oil, olive oil, pine nuts, popcorn, peanuts, prawns, spinach, avocado, broccoli, and asparagus.
Vitamin K heals the wounds
Vitamin K is also part of fat-soluble vitamins. It plays an essential role in blood clotting and wound healing. Deficiency is extremely rare. You need to suffer from severe malnutrition or have a disease that causes a deficit.
The top 10 abundant sources of Vitamin K are dark green leafy vegetables and the skins of fruits and vegetables.
Tap for part two of this article to discover more about water-soluble vitamins.