A daily multi-vitamin adds numerous elements that our bodies may or may not get. A multi-vitamin also gives us moderate amounts of each vitamin, whereas individual supplements can have dangerous side-affects if taken in high doses. Remember: More is not better when it comes to vitamins. Whatever your stance is on this debate, most would agree that a multi-vitamin is a positive addition to our daily routine.
Below is a list of the primary components of the common multi-vitamin, and what they do for us:
- Vitamin A (Beta-carotene)
Vitamin A is fat-soluble antioxidant and comes in two forms: 1. retinol – found in animal tissue; and 2. beta-carotene – found in plants. Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy functions in our eyes, hair, teeth, and gums. It also is involved in fat metabolism and the production of white blood cells. Good dietary sources of Vitamin A include: milk, butter, carrots, dark-green vegetables, cheese, and egg yolks.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Thiamin, the first of the 8 in Vitamin B Complex, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body produce energy from carbohydrates. The body’s needs for thiamin is small. Thiamin also helps maintain muscle tone in the stomach, intestines, and heart; and is essential for healthy brain and nerve functions. Good dietary sources of Thiamin include: beans, oatmeal, brown rice, peanuts, peas, soybeans, wheat germ, lean meats, fish, cereals, breads and whole grains.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is another water-soluble part of Vitamin B complex. Riboflavin helps the body process fats and amino acids, convert carbohydrates into energy, and the forming of red blood cells. Good dietary sources of Riboflavin include: Leafy green vegetables, legumes, milk, yogurt, meat, broccoli, soy products, and eggs.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin and niacinamide are the primary two forms of vitamin B3. In addition to enabling the body to release energy from carbohydrates, niacin also helps regulate cholesterol levels. Another form of niacin, inositol hexaniacinate, is another substitute for niacin and has similar benefits. Good dietary sources of Niacin include: peanuts, yeast, whole grains, and fish.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Panothenic acid is water-soluble and one of the most plentiful vitamins in our diet (“pantho” – Greek for “from everything”). Pantothenic acid helps our bodies convert energy from proteins, fats, and carbs. It is also thought by some experts to relieve stress and depression. While deficiency of this vitamin is rare, alcohol abusers have been found to have low levels.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body release energy from food and make proteins which in turn are used by the body to build cells. Good dietary sources of Pyridoxine include: meats, fish, nuts, bananas, brown rice, whole grains, beans, eggs, potatoes, soybeans, and oatmeal.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Cobalamin is a key component of cell formation, proper digestion and metabolism of fats and carbs. Together with folate, Cobalamin also helps form red blood cells. Good dietary sources of Cobalamin include: milk, eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, and other animal products.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that neutralizes harmful organisms and boosts our immune system (See…Mom was right). It also aids in the absorption of iron and strengthens blood vessel walls. Good dietary sources of Vitamin C include: citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, parsley, leafy green vegetables, and potatoes.
- Vitamin D (Calciferol)
Vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It stimulates the absorption of calcium and helps in the body’s resistance of breast and colon cancer. Good dietary sources of Vitamin D include: cheese, eggs, cold-water fish, milk, and leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a major role in the proper functioning of muscle, nerves, and formation of red blood cells. Recent studies have also linked Vitamin E in the prevention of heart problems by reducing the oxidation of cholesterol in arteries. Good dietary sources of Vitamin E include: vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, whole grain products, and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin K (Phylloquine)
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps promote blood clotting which helps the body stop bleeding when injured. Good dietary sources of Vitamin K include: leafy greens, oats, wheat bran, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, and soybeans.
Biotin (Vitamin B7) is a water-soluble member of the Vitamin B ‘family’ and helps the body metabolize fats, protein, and carbs and produce energy. Good dietary sources of Biotin include: soy, whole grains, almonds, egg yolks, milk, mushrooms, broccoli, bananas, peanuts, and cereals.
Calcium is best known for it’s role in the formation and strength of our bones and teeth. Approximately 99% of calcium in our body can be found in our bones, while the other 1% aids our bodies in muscle growth and maintaining a regular heartbeat. If our diets don’t include enough calcium, our bodies will take it from our bones which could lead to osteoporosis. Good dietary sources of calcium include: milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, almonds and sesame seeds.
- Folic Acid
Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is a water soluble vitamin that helps the body create new cells and works with Vitamin B12 in the formation of red blood cells. Good dietary sources of Folic Acid include: bran, broccoli, celery, citrus fruits, vegetables, nuts, beets and avocados.
Iron is a trace mineral found in the hemoglobin molecule of red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Iron deficiencies can lead to a lack of oxygen getting to body tissue causing anemia and fatigue. Good dietary sources of Iron include: chicken, meat, eggs, seafood, whole grain, dark green vegetables, and fortified cereals.
Magnesium is involved in the creation of bone, the beating of our heart, and the balance of sugar in the bloodstream. It also plays a central part in the formation of ATP which fuels the muscles. Good dietary sources of Magnesium include: nuts, whole grains, wheat bran, dark green vegetables, brown rice, garlic, apples, bananas, beans, meat, fish, and milk.
Potassium is an electrolyte necessary for the maintenance of a regular heart beat and blood pressure. It also helps in the proper acid and water balance in our bodies. Good dietary sources of Potassium include: bananas, beans, garlic, brown rice, nuts, orange juice, raisins, peanut butter, and potatoes.
Selenium is a trace mineral that has been credited for protecting against cancer. In its interaction with certain antioxidants, Selenium helps prevent cell damage by free radicals. Good dietary sources of Selenium include: garlic, whole grains, soybeans, seafood, brown rice and pineapples.
Zinc is a mineral that assists hundreds of enzymes in the body as they enhance the immune system, maintain vision, reproduce cells, and other critical body functions. Good dietary sources of Zinc include: Oysters, spinach, beef, pecans, almonds, turkey, and cashews.
This is just an abbreviated summary of a few of the more than 150 vitamins and minerals that our bodies need on a daily basis. Our bodies will rid themselves of excess water-soluble vitamins, but excess fat-soluble vitamins can build up and cause dangerous side affects if taken in higher-than-recommended doses, so please consult a doctor if you’re planning on taking more than the dosage amounts.
You may have noticed that in the ‘good sources of..’ portion of each vitamin or mineral there were a variety of healthy foods. Make these foods a part of your daily diet, and try adding a multi-vitamin to your day as it may fill in a needed deficiency.
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