With today's hectic lifestyles it's not always easy to maintain the ideal version of ourselves, especially given everyday stresses such as work and family life. Here we take a look at vitamin supplements, what they do, and how they can help you.
What are vitamins?
Firstly there are two types of vitamins to consider - fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins can be mainly found in animal based foods, for example, dairy, eggs, liver, fish and oils. Typically these types of vitamins are found in fattier foods. These types of vitamins don't need to be consumed everyday as your body stores and retains them for future use. They are commonly known as Vitamin A, D, E and K.
Secondly there are water-soluble vitamins, these are needed much more frequently as they are not stored like fat-solubles. Water-solubles can be found in a variety of foods, but most commonly, fruit, vegetables, potatoes, milk and dairy based foods. These types of vitamins can be harder to get enough of as they can be destroyed easily. For example, heat can destroy some of these vitamins when cooking, which is why it is sometimes advisable to steam or grill foods rather than boiling. These types of vitamins are commonly known as Vitamin C, B and folic acid.
What types of vitamins are there?
- Vitamin A - This is needed to maintain your immune system, help with vision and keep skin healthy. It can be found in dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurts, as well as being found in eggs and oily fish. Spinach, carrots and red peppers can also be good sources.
- B Vitamins and Folic Acid - There are eight different types of B Vitamins that are important to consider. These are, B1, B2, B3, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folic acid and B12. They each have many different functions, some of which are: keeping the nervous system healthy, working to keep healthy red blood cells, helping to release energy from the food we eat.
- Vitamin C - Vitamin C is important and necessary for maintaining healthy tissue for organs. It is also needed to protect cells, and for healing purposes. It is needed in a diet daily and it can be found in foods including, oranges, peppers, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes.
- Vitamin D - This is the vitamin which is necessary for keeping bones and teeth healthy. It is needed to help regulate calcium levels in the body. Vitamin D is usually provided by sunlight through our skin, but in the winter months it is important to get our Vitamin D source from other methods, such as foods like oily fish, red meat and egg yolks.
- Vitamin E - Vitamin E helps with healthy skin and eyes, as well as strengthening the immune system which is important during cold and flu season. This is one of the vitamins that can be stored, and is therefore not needed to be consumed daily. Good sources of Vitamin E include nuts and seeds, it can also be found in cereals and cereal based products.
- Vitamin K - This is another Vitamin which is important for healing purposes, i.e. it assists with healing wounds. It can be found in darker green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Similar to Vitamin E, it can be stored for future use, however you should get enough of this particular vitamin in your diet already if you eat healthily and balanced.
- Iron - While iron isn't considered a vitamin, it is still a mineral that is crucial in our diets. When people don't get enough iron they can suffer from iron deficiency and anaemia. Thankfully iron can be found in many foods including, meat, nuts, brown rice, kale and other dark green leafy vegetables.
Should you be taking them?
A person can typically get all the vitamins they need just by eating a balanced diet. However, certain groups of people may be more in need of vitamins, for example pregnant women or children.
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