Your Guide to Vital Vitamins & Vitamin Supplements

Which one’s do you really need and where to buy them? Learn about the importance of daily vitamin supplements.

Another important part of your diet is Vitamins. Having a well balanced diet should give you most of your daily vitamin needs. But do you really take proper care of your diet and follow a proper nutrition plan? Are you thinking of taking daily vitamin supplements? Read on to know more about vitamins supplements.

Vital Vitamins: A to Z Guide

Here’s a quick overview of all the vital vitamins. The various vitamins, and why you need them. Keep it handy in your kitchen.

VITAMIN A (Beta-carotene, Retinol and Alpha-carotene)
You need it because: A deficiency of this vitamin causes night-blindness, dry skin, impaired immunity, and it can also affect growth and reproduction.
Food Sources: Consume foods like carrots, orange, pumpkin and egg yolks.Also, eat organ meats like liver, cod liver oil and butter.

VITAMIN B1 (Thiamine)
You need it because: This vitamin is used to process fats, proteins and carbohydrates. A deficiency of this vitamin causes Beriberi, a potentially life-threatening condition which can affect the heart, the circulatory system and, in extreme cases, causes damage to the nerves. It can also cause Korsakoff’s syndrome (a brain disorder).
Food sources: Legumes, beef, nuts, pork, thiamine-enriched grains and cereals, and yeast.

VITAMIN B2 (Riboflavin)
You need it because: It helps with nerve development, blood cell development and the regulation of certain hormones. A deficiency causes low immunity and a drop in energy levels.Food sources: Spinach, mushrooms, yogurt and milk.

VITAMIN B3 (Niacin)
You need it because: A deficiency causes Pellagra which is characterised by symptoms such as scaly skin, digestive problems and problems of the nervous system. Insufficient consumption of Vitamin B3 can also contribute to dementia.
Food sources: Rice bran, fish (especially tuna), peanuts and broccoli.

VITAMIN B5 (Pantothenic acid)
You need it because: A deficiency of this causes fatigue, insomnia, irritability and depression.
Food sources: Avocados, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, yogurt, chicken and chicken liver.

VITAMIN B6 (Pyridoxine)
You need it because: A deficiency causes mood swings, anxiety and confusion. It could also impede blood cell formation.
Food sources: Sunflower seeds, spinach, dried prunes, bananas and avocados.

VITAMIN B7 (Biotin)
You need it because: A deficiency of this vitamin causes anaemia and hair loss/baldness.
Food sources: Eggs (egg yolks should be included), soy milk and organ meats (chicken liver).

VITAMIN B9 (Folic acid, folacin)
You need it because: A deficiency causes neural tube defects, and folic acid deficiency anaemia. Hence, it is important to make sure the body gets enough of this vitamin in the pre-natal stage and right through a pregnancy.
Food sources: Dark green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, avocado and lentils.

VITAMIN B12 (Cyanocobalamin, Cobalamin)
You need it because: A deficiency causes pernicious anaemia (complications include heart problems and brain nerve damage) and fatigue.
Food sources: Fish, poultry, milk and eggs, and, for vegetarians, fortified cereals (as vegetarian diets don’t usually contain this vitamin).

CALCIUM
You need it because: A deficiency causes osteoporosis and osteopaenia -conditions that are related to the bones. It can also cause hypocalcemia which is characterised by brittle bones and muscles that don’t contract properly.
Food sources: Milk and milk products, even processed cheese. The best source for calcium is nachni (ragi). But, almonds, fish and broccoli are also rich sources of calcium.

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VITAMIN C
You need it because: It helps with the manufacture of collagen, which is necessary for tissue repair. It also keeps the immune and nervous systems healthy by strengthening blood vessels. A deficiency causes scurvy which is characterised by bleeding and swollen gums. Insufficient Vitamin C also leads to low immunity levels and dry hair (as the vitamin is vital for healthy skin and bones).
Food sources: Citrus fruits like amla, broccoli, and capsicum -it is a little known fact that capsicum is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C.

COPPER
You need it because: Copper works with iron to make red blood cells and so a deficiency of copper causes anaemia, leukopenia (low white blood cell count) and myelodysplasia, in which the immature blood cells in the bone marrow do not become healthy blood cells.
Food sources: Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, and nuts, oysters and shellfish.

VITAMIN D
You need it because: Sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D, an essential vitamin for bone development. A deficiency is marked by brittle bones and conditions such as rickets. It can also cause growth retardation and osteomalacia (bone softening).
Food sources: Cheese and egg yolk, but mainly sunshine.

VITAMIN E (alpha Tocopherol)
You need it because: Vitamin E helps the body to absorb Vitamin A and to make red blood cells. It’s a powerful antioxidant so a deficiency would cause a drop in immunity and the skin would get dry. The person would also experience hair losshair fall.
Food sources: Green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, nuts, kiwi and avocado.

FLUORIDE
You need it because: Fluoride is not an essential mineral but it helps prevent cavities.
Food sources: Nuts, seeds and seafood.

IODINE
You need it because: Iodine deficiency is relatively common. It may manifest as extreme fatigue, weight gain, puffiness of the face, constipation, slowing of physical and mental processes, pale skin and impaired immunity.
Food sources: Meat, egg yolk, dark green vegetables, nuts and legumes.

IRON
You need it because: Iron is an essential mineral stored by the body in red blood cells. A deficiency of this vitamin causes anaemia, characterised by tiredness and general weakness. It also affects one’s ability to concentrate, impairs performance, and in general, contributes to ill health by rendering individuals susceptible to infection.
Food sources: Pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark green vegetables and garden cress seeds.

VITAMIN K (Phytonadione)
You need it because: Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, and its deficiency causes easy bleeding.
Food sources: Spinach, cauliflower, greens, broccoli and turnips.

MAGNESIUM
You need it because: Magnesium is vital for a healthy nervous system, for muscle contraction and for the formation of healthy bones and teeth. A deficiency can cause hypomagnesaemia characterised by muscle cramps, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Food sources: Dry fruits, leafy vegetables and dark chocolate.

MANGANESE
You need it because: A manganese deficiency limits the production of collagen, which affects the body’s capacity to heal wounds.Food sources: Spinach, pineapple, pumpkin seeds and brown rice.

POTASSIUM
You need it because: A deficiency can cause hypokalemia (a serious electrolyte imbalance), weakness due to dehydration/diarrhoea and sweating.Individuals who suffer from hypertension, as well as those just looking to keep their blood pressure in check, can benefit from potassium.Food sources: Avocados, spinach, coconut water, white beans and bananas.

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PHOSPHOROUS
You need it because: Phosphorous helps keep the bones and teeth strong and healthy. A deficiency could cause hypophosphatemia, characterised by muscle dysfunction and weakness, irritability and confusion. It could even trigger delirium, and in extreme cases, a person may slip into a coma too.
Food sources: Dairy products, fish, meat, whole grains and nuts.

SELENIUM
You need it because: It prevents degenerative conditions including cancer, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases. Most of these effects are related to the function of selenium in the antioxidant enzyme systems.A deficiency weakens the immune system and causes thyroid dysfunction and infertility in men and women.
Food sources: Brazil nuts, beef, egg and chicken.

SODIUM
You need it because: Sodium works with chloride and bicarbonate to balance the positive and negative ions in the body. A deficiency of sodium causes cramping, fluid shifts and acid-base imbalance.
Food sources: Table salt, processed food.

ZINC
You need it because: Zinc is an essential mineral and it helps the body heal wounds internally. It also helps maintain the sense of taste and smell. A deficiency of this mineral is characterised by dropped immunity levels, and delays in wound healing.
Food sources: Chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, chicken and lamb.

Daily Vitamins Supplements – Why take them?

Vitamins are an essential part of the body’s metabolic processes, deficiencies in these essential nutrients can have serious implications on our health, so you should strive to have an adequate supply of these important nutrients.

Like other nutrients, vitamins are obtained by consuming a healthy diet consisting of a wide variety of foods.

However, because of our lifestyle, and also because the nutritional value of our fruits and veggies has decreased dramatically in recent years, we have to depend on supplements to get the right amount of vitamins.

Tim Lang, a professor at the Centre for Food Policy in London explains: “We have to eat eight oranges today to get the same amount of vitamin A our grandparents got from a single orange.”

Though I am not in favor of taking supplements, there are some benefits associated with taking vitamins supplements.

  • In today’s hectic life, its is a challenge to stick to a planned diet
  • Nowadays the foods are processed, includes pesticides, and is treated with hormones
  • With age, it becomes difficult for our bodies to absorb all the nutrients from our food
  • So the best way to ensure you get your daily vitamin intake is by taking daily vitamin supplements.

    Vitamin Supplement Can Restore Health and Energy

    You should always strive to choose a nutritional product that is both nontoxic and effective, and the same applies when selecting the right vitamin supplement.

    Your body needs more than Vitamins
    In order to maintain optimum health levels, we need more than Vitamins. Look for a multivitamin supplement that includes minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and herb extracts to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to maintain good health.

    Unless your Vitamin supplements contain all these nutrients, its not going to be very useful.

    Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins
    Our bodies seem more receptive to vitamins in their natural state (as compared to the synthetic ones), which increases their efficacy in improving our health.

    For example, recent research confirms that natural vitamin E is more readily useable by the body than synthetic vitamin E, and that the natural type remains active in the body for a longer period of time.

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    So why do manufacturers produce synthetic vitamins at all?

    Its because they are cheaper to produce than their natural counterparts.

    So make sure that you choose a multivitamin supplement made of natural ingredients.

    Choose a Reliable Manufacturer
    The supplement industry in countries like India is loosely regulated, and choosing a good supplement can be difficult. Some products do not even contain the active ingredients they should, and others do not the correct amounts needed to ensure optimal health.

    So you have to be careful while selecting when choosing a vitamin supplement.

    Look for a manufacturer that follows GMP guidelines, as these are the highest standard available.

    Since what is on the label is no guarantee of what is actually in your supplement bottle, request a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for the product, which is available from the manufacturer. This will give a good indication of the quality and purity of the active ingredients. If the manufacturer does not supply this with every product they sell, simply choose another brand.

    Daily Vitamin Supplements – What Vitamins Should I Take?

    If you surf the internet, you will get hundreds of sites that will tell you all about vitamins and how they change your life.

    But do you need them all? Find out what you really need here.

    Know Your Deficiencies – If you have done a blood test recently, your doctor would know what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in. If you have not, the best thing to do is go to your doctor and get a blood test performed.

    Multi-vitamins with Calcium

    A regular multi-vitamin supplement should take care of all your daily vitamins and minerals need – including Vitamins A, C, D, and E.

    If you live in an area with less sun, you may be calcium deficient or Vitamin D deficient.

    Women should take a multivitamin which is high in calcium with at least 40% of your daily requirement. Men can also benefit from the higher calcium.

    Osteoporosis is more common in females, but does occur in males as well. Multivitamins for females also are a good source of folic acid for women preparing for pregnancy.

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    The only other supplement I recommend is fish oil.

    You are missing out on Omega-3 fatty acids If you are a vegan or if do not eat fish on a regular basis. The benefits are as follows.

  • A healthier heart
  • Improved immune response
  • Improved nervous system function
  • Healthier joints
  • Helps to maintain normal cholesterol
  • Health Juices

    Natural drinks also can help you boost your vitamin and mineral intake. If you are interested in trying them, look into health juices such as Gogi or Acai.


    Here’s a video documentary that highlights the truth about Vitamins:


    Summary

    Because of our hectic lifestyle, following a planned diet can get challenging at times. Besides, with age the body is not able to absorb all the nutrients from our foods. This is where vitamin supplements could help. A regular multi-vitamin supplement should take care of all your daily vitamins and minerals need.

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