Eating the right foods keeps our bodies working properly, thanks to a mix of essential vitamins and nutrients. Found in many foods, from fresh fruits and vegetables to healthy energy bars, vitamins can either be water-soluble or fat-soluble. It is essential to have a good balance of the right vitamins in your system, as doing so contributes to your energy level and ability to fight off disease. However, it can be difficult to know which vitamins are best to take.
Since people have a variety of different careers that affect their daily routines and fitness levels, there is not one cure-all vitamin to take to remain healthy. Those that work in an office every day have needs that are different from firefighters, who have different needs than athletes. It is important to consult with your physician before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet because having too much of a vitamin can have a negative effect on your health. Your doctor will also be able to determine if you have any vitamin deficiencies so that you can build a vitamin regimen that meets your specific needs.
There are a number of types of vitamins though that you should consider adding to your daily regimen. These support everything from heart health to memory and are easy to obtain. Here is a list of some of the most common vitamins and the benefits they have:
What It Does: Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and skin, and it also supports bone and tooth growth. In addition, vitamin A helps your immune system and is important in the reproductive process. Finally, vitamin A enables your heart, kidneys, lungs, and other organs to work properly.
Why You Need It: Although vitamin A deficiency is rare in North America, it is still important to have enough of it in your diet. There are certain groups of people that are at risk of having low vitamin A levels, including premature infants and people with cystic fibrosis. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to an eye condition called xerophthalmia, which can lead to blindness.
Best Foods for Vitamin A: Vitamin A can be found in both plant and animal sources. Some good foods to eat to get vitamin A are milk, cheese, and butter. Sources that are lower in fat are carrots, pumpkins, and apricots.
What It Does: Vitamin B12 promotes healthy nerve function and also helps your body make new cells. It can also help you lower your risk of heart disease because it breaks down fatty and amino acids.
Why You Need It: Those that are deficient in vitamin B12 can suffer from fatigue, anemia, loss of appetite, and constipation. Not having enough B12 in your system can also lead to neurological consequences, such as dementia and depression.
Best Foods for Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is among the types of vitamins that occurs naturally in foods and is also available as a supplement. Some foods that are rich in B12 are meats and dairy, including poultry, fish, cheese, liver, and yogurt.
What It Does: Vitamin C is important for preventing infections and promoting a healthy immune system. It also helps the body absorb iron, which is a critical component in the process of carrying oxygen through your blood cells.
Why You Need It: Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps protect your cells from free radicals in the body. It is also needed to create collagen, which allows your wounds to heal. People who get little to no vitamin C may develop scurvy, which can also bring about depression and anemia, although it is rare.
Best Foods for Vitamin C: Citrus is a main source of vitamin C, although it is also found in vegetables. Some good foods to eat to get the vitamin C you need include broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and oranges.
What It Does: Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the body, which is important for bone health and development as you grow. It also helps reduce inflammation and benefits your immune system.
Why You Need It: Vitamin D can be absorbed naturally through sunlight. However, many people work long hours indoors and lack proper vitamin D levels. Deficiency can lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.
Best Foods for Vitamin D: Dairy is an excellent source of vitamin D, which is not present in very many foods. In addition to being able to get vitamin D as a supplement, it can be found in milk, cheese, and fatty fish.
What It Does: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage and may also help in the fight against cancer and Alzheimer's disease. It is also important to the immune system, fighting off bacteria and preventing infections.
Why You Need It: Vitamin E does a lot to keep your body healthy, including promoting healthy blood flow to keep it from clotting. Being deficient in vitamin E can lead to nerve and muscle damage, as well as vision problems and overall weakness.
Best Foods for Vitamin E: Vitamin E is found in a number of healthy fats, including avocados, vegetable oil, egg yolks, nuts, and whole grains.
What It Does: Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and promotes bone health. Scientists are studying its effect on reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and osteoporosis.
Why You Need It: If you are taking a blood thinner for heart health, it is critical to get the right amount of vitamin K in your system each day. Without enough in your body, you may experience bruising and bleeding problems.
Best Foods for Vitamin K: Vitamin K is best found in leafy greens, such as collards, kale, spinach, turnip greens, cabbage, and broccoli.
What It Does: Biotin is crucial to maintaining overall health because it increases absorption of protein, carbohydrates, and fat from food. It keeps your bones strong and your hair healthy and growing.
Why You Need It: Without biotin, your body is unable to naturally process and break down the foods you eat. While biotin deficiency is very rare, it can occur in athletes who consume raw egg whites over a long period of time. Deficiency can cause depression, nausea, loss of hair, and scaly dermatitis.
Best Foods for Biotin: Biotin is produced naturally in your intestinal tract, but can also be found in egg yolks, soybeans, whole grains, and organ meats.
What It Does: Folic acid is responsible for making DNA and new red blood cells. It works to prevent anemia as well.
Why You Need It: Not having enough folic acid in your diet can cause anemia, which can deprive your body tissue of vital oxygen. Pregnant women with a deficiency may see birth defects in their children.
Best Foods for Folic Acid: Though folic acid is now added to most refined grains and foods like healthy protein bars, it is naturally occurring in legumes, liver, seeds, and greens like broccoli, spinach, romaine, peas, and okra.
Incorporating these important types of vitamins into your diet will help you stay healthy and increase your performance while exercising.
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