Adam Taylor Article Writer
5 essential vitamins for a balanced diet
1. Vitamin B6
This is a major water-soluble vitamin that is responsible for multiple bodily functions including a stimulation in the metabolism and amino acid processing. Being known as one of the most essential vitamins and one that isn’t naturally manufactured and stored by the body, Vitamin B6 needs to be consumed on a regular basis either through foods or supplements.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble micronutrient known to be the largest and most important out of the 8 B vitamins known to man. The body absorbs vitamin B12 in the gut with the help of a certain protein called the Intrinsic Factor. This vitamin is stored in the body for long periods of time. Hence, although a person may stop consuming this vitamin at some point of time, it may take several years to exhaust.
3. Vitamin C
Being water-soluble, vitamin C once consumed gets transported to various tissues via body fluids and gets excreted out through the kidneys. Also known as Ascorbic acid, this vitamin is not stored within the body. However, your body does not require excess quantities of this vitamin unless you’re feeling sick.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a group of biologically active substances, which are formed under the action of ultraviolet rays in the skin and enter the human body with food. Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which is mainly absorbed through the skin and stored within the body’s adipose (fat) tissue. An increase in the need for vitamin D is facilitated by a lack of ultraviolet radiation, naturally dark skin, old age, vegetarianism and adherence to low-fat diets, indigestion, pregnancy and lactation, a period of intensive growth and development. These people need additional vitamin D.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which is mostly stored within the liver and fatty tissues. It is not produced naturally by the body and tends to get accumulated upon consumption, which increases the possibility of excess.
Essential vitamins: benefits and caveats
If you often wonder why you are anemic, confused or depressed, the simple answer may be that you are vitamin B6 deficient! This vitamin helps to boost the immune system and maintain nervous system function. A deficiency of vitamin B6 can also result in dermatitis, convulsions and can leave individuals at a greater risk of developing heart disease later in life. However, an excess of vitamin B6 can result in severe nerve damage.
This vitamin plays a very important role in the metabolism of body cells and helps your body break down food into energy. It also helps your body produce red blood cells and synthesize DNA. If your diet is lacking vitamin B12, you are most likely to experience symptoms such as anemia, fatigue, numbness in the limbs as well as memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Next time you decide to pay a visit to the clinic to grab some over the counter flu meds, think again! Staying at home and treating yourself to a fresh glass of orange juice would be a better choice! The vitamin C present in citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit not only rids you of your common cold, but also protects you against cardiovascular disease, skin wrinkling and eye problems. It is an antioxidant, participates in various metabolic processes, increases the body's ability to withstand stress. A sufficient supply of vitamin C activates the body's defenses. Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency may include dry skin, nosebleeds and a delay in wound healing. However, an excess of this vitamin may result in digestive problems such as diarrhea.
Vitamin D is good for bones and teeth. It regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body and supports cardiovascular and lung health. A diet which is lacking vitamin D causes weak bones, reduces immunity and causes a disease called rickets in children.
Vitamin D action:
- ensures normal growth and development of bones, it is necessary for the normal functioning of the normal thyroid gland.
- helps the body to restore the protective sheaths surrounding the nerves.
The easiest way to fill the gap is to use nutritional supplements. Both forms of the sun vitamin - D3 and D2 - can be obtained from special food preparations. D3 is a form of the vitamin that is produced by the interaction of sunlight and human skin, and D2 is a form of a substance that is found in plant products.
But when taking high doses of a substance for a long period, an accumulation effect occurs, which then takes on the character of toxicity and danger to the body.
If you’re a smoker, then make sure to consume enough vitamin E! This vitamin has antioxidant properties which helps protect your cells against damage caused by UV rays, pollution and cigarette smoke. Vitamin E deficiency may result in nerve and muscle damage as well as vision problems. Since vitamin E also has anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet and vasodilatory properties, it is also referred to as a cardioprotective agent.
Unlike vitamin D or vitamin A, excess vitamin E does not appear to be toxic. However, at the moment there is no absolute confidence in the safety of long-term intake of vitamin E in moderate and large doses.
Foods with essential vitamins
- Foods with Vitamin B6
If you’re fond of seafood, then you may find yourself in luck! Most fish such as salmon, tuna fillet and snapper fillet are rich in vitamin B6. Other meaty foods such as chicken breast, tofu, beef and pork chops are also a great source of this vitamin. However, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it isn’t too hard for you to get your daily dose of vitamin B6! Having fruits such as banana, mango, pineapple or avocado and vegetables such as potato or sweet potato on a daily basis can keep you well-nourished and help your body get a considerable amount of this vitamin.
- Foods with B12 Vitamin
If you are an athlete or someone who regularly works out at the gym, then don’t forget to include vitamin B12 in your daily diet! This vitamin is commonly found in highest quantity in meats such as clams, liver, beef and eggs. A fairly expensive source of vitamin B12 is red and black caviar. “But, how can vegetarians get B12 naturally?” you ask. While most people get a sufficient amount of this vitamin from a balanced diet, vegetarians and vegans are often the ones who are lacking vitamin B12. Therefore, if you follow a special diet, you need to consult with your doctor and find out with what drugs or special supplements you can make up for the lack of vitamin B12.
However, if you are a vegetarian who drinks milk and eats dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt on a regular basis, then don’t worry! Dairy products such as these are known to be rich in vitamin B12 and are sufficient to keep you healthy if consumed regularly.
- Foods with Vitamin C
If fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, oranges, cantaloupes, papayas, broccoli, leafy greens or bell peppers are on your to-eat list for the day, then you are consuming a good quantity of vitamin C required for a strong body and healthy immune system.
- Foods with Vitamin D
Consuming mushrooms will help you get your daily dose of vitamin D. Also, fruits such as apples and bananas, brown, white or long-grain rice, fish such as salmon and tuna, chicken, beef and some other meaty foods are high in vitamin D. This vitamin is converted into its active form in the liver. During summer, vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight abundantly. However, in places which don’t receive enough sunlight, the levels of vitamin D need to be carefully monitored and obtained from other sources.
- Foods with Vitamins E
Cooking oils such as sunflower oil, olive oil and rapeseed oil and nuts such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts are high in vitamin E. Wheatgerm found in cereals is also known to be a rich source of vitamin E. However, studies have proven that fast cereal is a bad idea for breakfast!
Multivitamins: it is necessary to take them daily?
The new-age obsession with multivitamins may have often left you wondering whether you actually need to be consuming artificially formulated powders and vitamin capsules in order to maintain a healthy diet. Well, if you are following a nutritious diet, you may not have to consider replacing your meals with multivitamin supplements.
On the other hand, vegetarians and vegans who lack certain vitamins such as B12, calcium or iron may find multivitamin capsules useful. Moreover, older adults and people who suffer from conditions which affect their ability to absorb vitamin B12 naturally, may largely benefit from oral supplementation. Since this vitamin plays a very important role in hematopoiesis (production of blood cells), vitamin B12 supplements are also exclusively recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women who follow a vegetarian and vegan diet.
However, consuming an excess of multivitamins may result in health problems. Since you are not aware of which vitamin your body lacks and which ones do you use enough, it is important to consume these multivitamins according to the specified dosage. Did you know that nowadays, DNA tests are being used to determine the exact amount of nutrients that your body needs to remain healthy?
On the other hand, few other vitamins such as vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin C get destroyed as a result of high temperatures during cooking. Such vitamins can usually be consumed either through multivitamin capsules or smoothies.
So, now that you’re aware of which vitamins to consume on a daily basis, it’s about time that you curb your junk food cravings and start preparing a healthier grocery list!