Vitamins are natural organic compounds vital for our normal growth and development, supporting metabolic processes and for general good health. Vitamins help to metabolize (breakdown and absorb) other nutrients to provide energy.
Vitamins must be consumed as part of our daily diet as they cannot be synthesized by our bodies. Most vitamins are available from the plants that we eat or from meat, dairy products or eggs from animals that consume plants.
Fat-Soluble vs. Water-Soluble
Vitamins fall into two groups determined by how they are digested and absorbed – fat-soluble or water-soluble. If the vitamins are digested in the stomach and intestines and absorbed directly into the bloodstream, they are said to be water-soluble. Vitamins that require dietary fats for transport to and absorption in the liver are said to be fat-soluble. Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins in your liver and adipose (fat) tissue for later use.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in your stomach and are not stored by your body. Any amount not immediately absorbed is eliminated in your urine, which explains why we need a continuous supply in our diet. Water-soluble vitamins are also easily washed out during food preparation or by overcooking. Here are the most prevalent water-soluble vitamins and their roles:
VITAMIN C is a strong antioxidant well known for improving your immune system. The antioxidants found in Vitamin C also promote cardiovascular and eye health, and reduce the signs of aging.
THIAMIN (VITAMIN B1) helps your body convert food into energy and supports DNA and RNA. Thiamin also maintains heart function and a healthy nervous system.
RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2) is essential for the formation of red blood cells and cellular growth. Riboflavin promotes healthy nerve and muscle tissue and supports enzyme functions.
NIACIN (VITAMIN B3) also helps to convert food to energy and maintains cardiovascular health.
PYRIDOXINE (VITAMIN B6) supports brain function and reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease. Pyridoxine aids the production of serotonin for a healthy nervous system.
VITAMIN A is essential for vision, bone growth, and the production of new cells.
VITAMIN D supports strong bones, heart health, and immunity. Vitamin D is also necessary for the proper absorption of calcium.
VITAMIN E is an antioxidant that improves blood circulation, protects your body from cell damage, and promotes healing.
VITAMIN K is essential for blood clotting but also builds strong bones and supports cardiovascular health.
Importance Of Multivitamin Supplements
Each of these vitamins has a specific function in your body and if one is absent, you may become ill. It is increasingly difficult to obtain the vitamins we need solely from our modern diet due to depleted soils, genetically modified farming practices, mass food production, and over processing and cooking. Today’s foods contain fewer vitamins and nutrients than in previous years and you should consider a multivitamin supplement to fill in the gaps and to promote optimal health.