Information on health, nutrition and other wellness topics


Vitamins and their Benefits

cellsWhat are vitamins and how do they work? Vitamins along with essential minerals are needed by the body in very small amounts to activate the thousands of chemical reactions within the cells in order to maintain good health. As many of these chemical reactions are linked, each one triggers another in a chain.

A missing link owing to shortage of vitamin or mineral anywhere in this chain leads to break down of the process, which can bring potentially damaging health effects.

The Importance of Vitamins

Vitamins perform specific functions essential for maintaining normal cell function, growth and development. They are necessary in the formation of blood cells, hormones, nervous system chemicals known as neurotransmitters, and the genetic material deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). You can get vitamins and minerals from food sources or from vitamin supplements. Without the enough supply of a certain vitamin or mineral for a long period, you may contract a specific disease or condition. By replenishing your body with the essential vitamin or mineral, you can put back your body in the right working order.

Types of Vitamins

There are two groups of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A, D, E, and K and are usually dissolved in lipids before they are absorbed in the blood stream. They are broken down by bile, a liquid released by the liver, and the body then takes in the breakdown products and vitamins. Excess amounts of these fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fat, liver, and kidneys for later use. Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored for long periods, small amounts are needed to maintain good health. They do not need to be consumed every day in the diet to meet the body’s needs as they generally cause a greater risk for toxicity when consumed in excess.

Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid), vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B5 (panthothenic acid), B12, and folic acid. As these vitamins are easily dissolved in water, during the preparation, washing or cooking of food, the vitamins might actually be destroyed or washed out. Being water soluble, these vitamins cannot be stored and are easily excreted. They rapidly leave the body in urine if taken in greater quantities than the body can use and therefore are seldom stored in tissues and do not reach toxic levels. Foods that contain water-soluble vitamins need to be eaten daily to replenish the body’s needs.

Vitamins perform specific and vital functions essential for maintaining health. The requirements are small and they may help prevent the onset of many disorders by countering the potential harm of chemicals known as free radicals, enhance the body’s use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, help in the digestion of food and make you more mentally vibrant.

It is sensible to eat a wide variety of foods as all of these vitamins are found in food. However, if you are not able to consume the proper amount and kind of food, you may have to take supplements to ensure that you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.