What’s the big deal with vitamins? Most people already know that vitamins are essential for good health. Food companies bombard consumers with vitamin-focused product labels, and even children are taught that vitamins make them strong and help them grow. However, the education often stops there. If you ask the average American, “What is vitamin b12 used for?” or “What are some side effects of vit d deficiency?” then you’ll likely be met with a blank stare (For the record, vitamin B12 makes DNA and lack of vitamin D causes fatigue). Understanding the complex chemistry of the human body isn’t necessary for everyone, but knowing how vitamins work can help with dietary decisions. Keep reading for a crash-course on what vitamins do and how to get enough of them.
Vitamins and minerals provide fuel for almost everything the body does, from growing hair to healing wounds. There are 13 essential vitamins, and each one serves the body in a unique way. One vitamin could hold hundreds of small roles, but a basic knowledge of each vitamin’s primary functions can help prevent health problems or identify nutrition deficiencies. For example, vitamin C helps repair tissue and boosts the immune system. Therefore, increasing vitamin C consumption during the first signs of a cold can reduce symptoms or prevent the illness from worsening. Furthermore, those suffering from osteoporosis could benefit from vit d and vit d3, both of which strengthen bones by assisting with calcium absorption. Here’s a quick summary of other essential vitamins’ roles:
As mentioned above, the body employs vitamins for hundreds of complex internal processes. However, even an elementary understanding of the most important vitamin groups can drastically improve health and nutrition.
Fruits, vegetables, and certain meat and dairy products are packed with vitamins. Since different foods contain varying vitamin levels, a diverse diet ensures maximum intake of all vitamins across the wellness spectrum. Beef liver, pumpkin, and sweet potato are some of the best sources of vitamin A, while green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and fish are a few examples of foods containing vit K. Even oils offer nutrition benefits: antioxidant vitamin E is found in vegetable oils and nuts. Most people get the vitamins they need from food, but those following specific diets may require supplements. Vitamin B12, for instance, only naturally occurs in animal products like seafood and dairy. However, vegans and vegetarians can still get B12 from fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and meat substitutes. Paying attention to nutrition labels is important, but in most cases there’s no need to break out a calculator to make sure that vitamin levels are up to par. Simply listening to the body’s warning signs and eating a variety of natural foods goes a long way towards sustaining health.
The body couldn’t function without vitamins, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Many people opt for supplements to boost their health, but taking too many vitamins can result in side effects that range from unpleasant to downright dangerous. For example, overdosing on vitamin C could cause abdominal discomfort but probably won’t result in serious damage. Too much vitamin D, though, could lead to aches and fatigue or to more severe consequences. Vit d 50000 iu side effects include extreme thirst, frequent urination, or even kidney stones. Vitamin A is also one to watch out for, as too much can cause headaches or seizures. While these side effects might sound alarming, they’re not an excuse to eat fewer vegetables. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get too many vitamins from food alone; most vitamin overdose cases are the result of excess supplement consumption. Those who take regular vitamin supplements should take note of sudden health changes and always keep track of dosages to avoid potential side effects.
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