Essential Vitamins You Need Everyday
How to know which vitamins are essential for health?
The first step is to find out what is required and what functions are needed. Vitamins promote nutrient absorption and support most vital functions. There is not one vitamin that is worth more than another: each one has a different function and it is necessary for all of them to be part of the diet.
It is found in: carrots, apricots, alfalfa sprouts, peaches, winter pumpkins, cod liver oil, dairy products, eggs, liver.
Functions: helps growth, reproduction and development, is good for the skin, teeth, mucous membranes and eyesight. Increases resistance to infections.
It is found in: whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, seafood, brewer’s yeast, potatoes.
Functions: it favors the assimilation of starches and sugars, stimulates the appetite and gives energy, helps digestion, the liver and the heart.
It is found in: almonds, kelp, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, mushrooms, soy derivatives, legumes, fish, eggs.
Functions: improves defenses against disease, helps growth and development, is good for the skin and for sight.
It is found in: whole grains, artichokes, peas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, dried fruit, fish.
Functions: it makes the blood circulation efficient, it controls the level of cholesterol in the blood, it activates the functioning of the adrenal glands and the nervous system, stimulates the appetite.
It is found in: whole grains, soy flour, green vegetables, yeast, fish, eggs, plums, nuts.
Functions: produces antibodies against infections, promotes the production of red blood cells and protein metabolism.
It is found in: green leafy vegetables, legumes, fresh fruit, wheat germ, yeast, meat, liver.
Functions: helps the correct function of vitamin B12, the formation of red blood cells, the absorption of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and their metabolism.
It is found in: legume sprouts, kombu algae, soy derivatives, meat, fish, egg yolk, yeast.
Functions: promotes the formation of red blood cells, the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, prevents the degeneration of nerve cells and the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
It is found in: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other types of cabbage, fruit, parsley, sprouts, citrus fruits, black currants.
Functions: helps growth and development, protects tissues, joints, ligaments, teeth and gums, increases resistance of the body against infections, helps wound healing and iron absorption, controls presence of cholesterol in the blood. Unfortunately it is destroyed with prolonged cooking for more than three minutes and with preservation.
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol)
It is found in: fish (smoked herring, mackerel, anchovies, tuna, sardines, salmon), cod liver oil, egg yolk, sprouted seeds. Also Vitamin D is produced biologically from the action of sunlight on the skin.
Functions: Strengthens bone structure and teeth.
It is found in: whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, egg yolks, legumes.
Functions: helps reproduction, is good for the heart and facilitates the use of fatty acids, cures blood cells and cell membranes, increases defenses against infections. Can counteract skin aging.
Vitamin K (menadione)
It is found in: green vegetables (especially cabbage and marine algae such as kelp) whole grains, alfalfa shoots, liver, potatoes, eggs, wheat germ.
Functions: promotes blood clotting, decreases the risk of bleeding in general and during pregnancy.
Do you need vitamin supplements?
Vitamin supplements are used to improve the normal diet with vitamins – and possibly other nutrients – in cases where there is a deficiency or in any case a decrease in their levels which can occur in case of reduced or inadequate intake with the diet or in case of increased demand.
However, it must be considered that, in general, the diet would overall be able to meet the minimum recommended intake levels. On the other hand, it is true that not all people follow a correct diet, while others follow special dietary patterns (for example, vegan diet, fruit and vegetable-free diet, etc.) that cannot guarantee the right intake of all nutrients – vitamins included – which the body needs.
Moreover, for some subjects (for example, sportsmen, pregnant women, etc.), the vitamin requirement turns out to be greater and only a truly varied and balanced diet – often difficult to follow – can satisfy this need. For this reason, in similar situations, the use of vitamin supplements can be useful.
However, before starting to take food supplements of any kind, it is good to follow the following tips:
- Optimize your diet, trying to make it as varied and balanced as possible. In this regard, it may be useful to refer also to specialized professional figures. At the same time, it is important to correct one’s lifestyle by adopting healthy habits. Vitamin supplements, in fact, should not be understood as substitutes for a varied and balanced diet, let alone understood as remedies to be used in the event of incorrect habits.
- Make sure there are no contraindications to vitamin supplementation. In the presence of particular disorders, pathologies or conditions (for example, the presence of allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc.), as well as in the case of pharmacological therapies in place (due to possible interactions), the intake of vitamin supplements could, in fact, being not indicated or even dangerous. In such situations, therefore, before taking vitamin supplements, it is always advisable to seek the doctor’s prior opinion.
As mentioned, a varied and balanced diet may be able to provide the body with sufficient levels of vitamins to guarantee its correct functioning. Therefore, the RDA values (Recommended Daily Allowance ) according to FDA, will be illustrated below.
In a healthy young person or adult, a varied diet is sufficient to provide the necessary vitamins, while deficiency states should always be managed under medical supervision, never with DIY. Numerous scientific works highlight the importance of taking vitamins through nutrition, because it is the synergistic effect of all the nutrients that contributes to maintaining good health.
The ability of our body to use nutrients varies if they come from food or from supplements. We must remember, in fact, that chemical reactions have adapted during evolution to guarantee the right doses for a correct synthesis of the molecules. The introduction of a type of vitamin, in excess of the others, could therefore unbalance the physiological reactions.
Vitamins must be taken in well-defined quantities, as the labels on the packaging on the market also report. If these quantities are exceeded, as can happen in orthorexic patients, there is the risk of experiencing serious symptoms.
Vitamin A, often taken in tablets to stimulate tanning, is a fat-soluble molecule that accumulates in the liver. If the quantity exceeds the level necessary for the body’s needs, the system is altered, with very serious consequences: in recent years there have been cases of liver disease, which on a couple of occasions led to death.
Special case: the elderly
In many cases there is a deficit in old age. Over the years, food preferences, both for a change in tastes and for chewing problems, move towards vegetables and cereals, penalizing the consumption of meat, with the exception of fish and fresh cheeses. There is then an insufficient contribution from the diet of vitamins, especially of group B, specifically B12, B6 and B9, or folic acid. Among other things, there are studies that correlate this deficiency with memory deficits and related diseases, starting with senile dementia.
How can this be remedied? Definitely using a supplement. However, the suggestion is not to take a multivitamic one, but to prefer a “targeted” product with B-group vitamins, capable of providing almost 100% of the specific reference value. On the other hand, meat can be placed at the table in the form of turkey or chicken burgers: it contains vitamins from group B, requires reduced chewing and is easy to digest.
The second problem of the elderly is that they move little and spend little time outside: hence there is also the risk of a vitamin D deficiency, which is activated in the body by exposure to sunlight. In this case the deficit is related to an increased risk of osteoporosis, which is already present in the elderly due to poor physical activity.
Furthermore, research has shown that there is a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and a lower response of the immune system, the body’s defense. Also in this case it may therefore be appropriate to reintegrate after consulting with the treating physician: there are pharmacological products based on vitamin D, also in association with vitamin A (fundamental for the health of the eyes and skin), which may be appropriate to hire.
Which foods are preferred in the diet to ensure the necessary vitamins?
Starting from milk, which among other things today is available in infinite versions: being basically fat at the origin, it contains vitamin A, a small amount of vitamin D and also – as known – a good dose of calcium, a fundamental mineral for osteoporosis.
Yes also to its soft derivatives, such as fresh cheeses, which the elderly love because they practically do not require chewing.
Another recommended food, beyond the problem related to cholesterol, is the egg, whose yolk is indeed very rich in vitamin A and D.
To ensure our body the right dose of vitamins, it is better to take care of nutrition and provide the right amount of nutrients every day. Vitamins in fact work synergistically and their assimilation should take place through food.
In special cases, for example in the elderly, or in cases of obvious deficiencies, it may be useful to resort to vitamin supplements. In this case it is better to act under medical supervision, both to identify a real deficiency and to contribute with the right vitamin in the right amount.