Do we really need vitamins and what benefits do they offer?
None of us are spared from the constant bombardment of advertising messages which make it nearly mandatory to take vitamins and mineral supplements if we want to live healthy and longer.
While the messages and health warnings pour in from all possible media, we often wonder what these vitamins and minerals are and do we really need extra portions of these items to stay healthy?
To begin with, vitamins and minerals are substances found in the foods that we eat and our body needs them to function optimally. What will happen if there is vitamin deficiency? Firstly we become vulnerable to many disease attacks and viral infections.
Vitamins and minerals are needed most when we are growing up as children, when we reach middle age they help keep our metabolism functioning properly, and again as we get older when the various organs of the body need more complex sources of nutritional supplements.
Though the human body can be compared to a chemical manufacturing factory where it is continuously producing various chemicals and hormones which help us remain alive and healthy, one thing which the body can not produce indigenously is vitamins.
We need to outsource vitamins from the foods that we eat. Vitamins are essentially organic compounds and can be of several types, found in different types of food.
So for the body to get a variety of vitamins, which is essential for the body’s different metabolic activities, we need to eat different types of food. Too much of a good thing is also harmful for the body. While the likelihood of consuming an excessive dose of vitamin from foods is remote, overdosing of vitamin supplements is possible.
In the unfortunate event of an overdose of vitamins, there is a likelihood of some adverse effects like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
The essential vitamins which our body needs to remain healthy are:
Vitamin A: For good eyesight and developing a strong immune system. Oily fishes, butter, cheese, carrots, apricots, green leafy vegetables and red peppers are considered to be good sources of this vitamin.
Vitamin B: Other than giving energy, this vitamin has a lot of other benefits too.
Vitamin B1: A much-needed item for carbohydrate metabolism. Bread and other cereal products are rich in this vitamin.
Vitamin B2: This helps in the release of other B vitamins. Milk and milk products, eggs meat and breakfast cereals have this vitamin.
Vitamin C: For healthy bones, teeth, gums, rapid wound healing and iron absorption this vitamin is helpful. We can get it from citrus fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, etc.
Vitamin D: Needed for calcium absorption. Fish is a rich source of this vitamin.
Vitamin E: For protection from many ailments related to ageing. Can be found in wheat germ, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
Vitamin K: Needed for rapid blood clotting when we get a cut or a wound. Foods which contain this vitamin are: milk, yogurt, and broccoli and soybean oil amongst others.
Before taking any kind of vitamin or supplements it is important to speak with your family doctor, especially if you suffer from some form of ailment, some people for example suffering from diabetes may need special supplements that are sugar free and safe for diabetics, others who may be allergic to gluten and wheat might need a vegetarian safe supplement, ultimately supplements can be a good thing to help you feel better and keep you healthy.