Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the body to do things it needs to do like pump blood throughout the body, send messages to and from the brain and recover from an injury or cold. Everyone knows it is important to eat heathy foods. So, the questions are: “What vitamins do you really need?” and “Should you take a multi-vitamin?”
Which Vitamins are Essential?
All vitamins and minerals are necessary but some, such as vitamin C and calcium, are not made by the body making it essential to get these nutrients through food or supplements.
There are two types of vitamins:
- Water soluble vitamins
- Fat soluble vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, which means the body can pretty easily get rid of excess amounts. Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and are stored in the body’s tissues. This means excess vitamins stay in the system instead of being eliminated through urination and, therefore, it is possible for a toxic amount to build up in the body.
Do You Need a Multi-vitamin?
Experts disagree about the benefits of taking a multi-vitamin. A multi-vitamin is not really necessary for anyone on a healthy, well-rounded diet, but could be useful for potentially vulnerable populations such as women looking to get pregnant, vegans or older adults.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, oranges, peppers and strawberries. Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system and helps with the synthesis of collagen and iron absorption.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for the body to properly absorb calcium in the bones. It also helps muscles to move and nerves to transmit messages. The skin makes vitamin D whenever you spend time in the sun, but it is also found in egg yolks, salmon, fortified milk and mushrooms.
Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin, as well as an antioxidant that works to fight the damage caused by free radicals in the body. Vitamin E helps fight the aging process and is found in nuts, broccoli, egg yolks, leafy greens, safflower oil and wheat germ.
Foods fermented with beneficial bacteria, like yogurt, support digestion, the absorption of nutrients and work to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract. While they have been around for awhile, they have been much more popular recently.
Calcium strengthens bones and helps the muscles to move properly, blood to circulate and nerves to send messages to and from the brain. Calcium is found in dairy products, beans, sardines, leafy greens, seeds and calcium-fortified products.
A Healthy Diet Should be Enough
A balanced diet with a wide variety of healthy foods should provide the body with plenty of nutrients without the need for supplements or a multi-vitamin. However, if you feel that you are not receiving enough of the most important vitamins and minerals in your diet, then adding one of these will help keep you healthy and balanced.