Vitamins and our body

Vitamins and minerals are essential to good health.

Fruit is full of vitamins

Have you ever wondered why the word 'essential' usually precedes the term, 'vitamins'? The reason is simple. Vitamins as well as minerals ensure that our bodies function as they were designed. Interestingly, as important as vitamins are, the body lacks the ability to manufacture most on its own. Instead, it must rely on outside sources to meet its nutritional needs.

Vitamins are organic compounds and as such they're found naturally in many of the foods we consume. They're also available in the form of vitamin supplements. Thirteen different vitamins are needed to perform such crucial functions as helping protect against infections and disease, helping the body's metabolism, helping the body grow and helping the body remove waste.

Vitamins are a lot like building blocks. A healthy body is able to put these blocks together to create the enzymes and hormones that, among other things, control heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels and other chemical reactions.

Problems associated with vitamin deficiencies

Although perhaps not noticeable at first, vitamin deficiencies can lead to serious health issues further on down the road. Few people today eat what would be considered a nutritionally-balanced diet. Many in fact, have developed some pretty poor eating habits. High fat foods, processed foods, fast food and restaurant food have taken the place of healthy foods.

Because people can't see what is going on inside the body, it's difficult to get a good understanding of the negative effects a poor diet can have on the body. Generally, it's not until the body begins putting on excess weight that the effects start to become visually noticeable. But long before the excess weight settles in, trouble is already brewing inside.

What types of problems are associated with vitamin deficiencies? Insufficient Vitamin D can cause weak or even deformed bones. Not enough Vitamin E can lead to the destruction of red blood cells. Not enough Vitamin C can cause tiredness, weakness, sore muscles and can cause gums to bleed. An overall vitamin deficiency can even lead to death.

Vitamin supplements are an effective way to fill in the nutritional gaps caused by poor eating habits. But beyond that, the only accurate way of knowing if the body is getting enough vitamins is with a blood test. If you don't think you're getting enough vitamins, you probably aren't. Do yourself a favor and find out soon.

Fat and water soluble vitamins

Most people do not even realize that vitamins are different, but they are. Besides the obvious letter difference, vitamins can be classified as either Fat Soluble or Water Soluble. Whether the vitamin is fat soluble or water soluble has to do with the way the body processes it. Should this difference matter to you? Well, yes and no.

At a basic level, whether or not a vitamin is fat soluble or water soluble doesn't really matter. What is most important is ensuring your body gets the recommended daily allowances of each. Regardless of whether you're getting your vitamins via your diet or by supplementation, avoiding a vitamin deficiency is what will keep the body in good health.

When looked at from a chemical aspect, the differences between a vitamin that is fat soluble or water soluble are fairly complicated. Most people don't care to understand all that is involved 'behind the scenes'.

What's important is that the body is able to store fat soluble vitamins but not water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K, are absorbed through the large intestines. For this absorption process to work properly dietary fat must also be present. If fat is not eaten along with the fat soluble vitamins, it will be more difficult for the body to complete the absorption process. Once they are finally absorbed however, fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver. There they wait until they are called on to do their jobs.

Let's take a closer look at the fat soluble vitamins. Vitamin K helps the body metabolize food into energy. It's responsible for protecting the blood's clotting ability by supplying the seven blood clotting proteins involved in the process. It's also necessary for normal bone growth.

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant. It protects Vitamins A and C and it plays a crucial role in protecting fatty acids and red blood cells from being destroyed.

Without Vitamin D, the body could not efficiently absorb calcium. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. Storing Vitamin D helps ensure that even if a person doesn't drink enough milk, bones won't suffer.

Vitamin A is the vision vitamin. It helps eyes focus in dim light and helps differentiate colors. It also plays a vital role in tissue growth and differentiation. It boosts the immune system's ability to fight infection. A special protein called a transport protein helps the Vitamin A that is stored in the liver travel to the tissues where it is needed.

Water soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are not stored in the body. Because the body isn't able to store these vitamins these vitamins must be constantly resupplied. As water soluble vitamins enter the body, they are put to work. The excess is eliminated from the body via the urine. The vitamins that make up the water soluble category include the B vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin H (Biotin).

The B vitamins are responsible for several crucial bodily functions. During the process of converting glucose from carbohydrates, the B vitamins provide energy to the body. Without B vitamins, the body wouldn't be able to properly metabolize proteins and fats.

One of Biotin's primary responsibilities is to ensure proper growth and Vitamin C is important for its antioxidant effects but both benefit the body in many other ways, too.

If you can't get the vitamins you need from consuming a balanced diet, consider taking a multivitamin supplement. Your health depends on it!