13 Essential vitamins that your body needs (Part 1)

If air and water are essential for living, so are vitamins. They are often called micronutrients because you only need tiny amounts to keep your body strong, healthy, and functional. These micronutrients play significant roles in the body including converting food to energy and aiding in the repair of cellular damage. The right amount of vitamins can also shield you from a variety of diseases. However, the body does not produce these micronutrients so you must derive them from the food that you eat and supplements.

How much vitamins do you need

Failing to get those small quantities can lead to vitamin deficiencies that can make you vulnerable to diseases. While deficiencies are concerning, taking too much of a particular vitamin can also lead to health issues. Excess vitamins, particularly fat-soluble vitamins, that the body does not need immediately might be absorbed and stored. If too much is stored, it can cause vitamin toxicity or hypervitaminosis.

Serious health problems can arise from taking an excessive amount of any vitamin. The Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNI) and Adequate Intakes (AI) per day of vitamins depend on the age group (infants, children, adults). You can check out the Philippine Dietary Reference Intakes (PDRI) tables for complete details.

You are what you eat

You probably heard the proverbial phrase, “you are what you eat” many times and there’s truth to this line. To make it simple, if you want to be healthy and fit, then you have to eat food that’s good for the body. Choosing the right food can provide you with the micronutrients that can promote strengthening, healing, repairing, and cell rebuilding.

Water-soluble vs. fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamins can be classified according to their solubility. Most vitamins are water-soluble which means that they dissolve in water. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The body gets rid of any excess which the body does not absorb through urine. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, do not dissolve in water. Excess amounts are stored in the liver and fat tissues as reserves.

Natural best sources of vitamins

Vitamin A (retinol, retinal, “four carotenoids” including beta-carotene)

Getting adequate amounts of Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, is vital to body growth, eye health, immune function, and reproductive health. When you don’t get enough Vitamin A, you can experience skin problems, hair loss, dry eyes, and night blindness. You can also become susceptible to infections. Pregnant women with vitamin A deficiency may experience pregnancy complications.

Food sources: liver, cod liver oil, carrot, kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, pumpkin, sweet potato, mango, apricot, cantaloupe, watermelon, butter, milk, eggs, some cheeses

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Vitamin B1, a water-soluble vitamin, enables the body to convert carbohydrates to energy. It also aids in muscle contraction, creates acids that help digestion, and supports conduction in nerve cells. Vitamin B1 deficiency can cause health issues such as beriberi (a condition associated with problems with the peripheral nerves) and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (degenerative brain disorder).

Food sources: pork, liver, eggs, whole grain rye, yeast, sunflower seeds, brown rice, cereal grains, orange, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, potato

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Your body needs this water-soluble vitamin for the growth and development of body cells. It also aids in metabolism. When you have vitamin B2 deficiency, you might develop fissures in the mouth and inflammation of the lips.

Food sources: milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, meat, fish, green beans, okra, chard, asparagus, banana, persimmon

Vitamin B3 (niacin, niacinamide)

Vitamin B3, a water-soluble vitamin, is important to promote cell growth. When you have low levels of vitamin B3, you might be at risk of getting pellagra, a health condition that causes diarrhea, intestinal upset, and skin changes.

Food sources: beef, chicken, salmon, tuna, eggs, milk, leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrot, tomato, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds

Daily dose of vitamins from food sources

Boost your health by eating a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat, and seafood each day to help fight vitamin deficiencies. You can talk to your doctor if you have concerns about getting the right vitamins. Medicare Plus is with you on your quest for better health.

Here’s the continuation of 13 Essential vitamins that your body needs (Part 2).

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