Are you getting the most out of your Vitamins?


The body is a very complex thing and some of the smallest things often get overlooked one of these is the need for the correct amounts of vitamins in order to maintain correct functions throughout the body there are two types of vitamins, fat soluble and water soluble this is one of the reasons I am not a believer in the magic all in one supplements for the daily vitamin intakes that you find on the shelves of so many health shops out there, because some need to be absorbed with fat and the others water so all in one pill really doesn’t work.

These vitamins cannot all be made by the body so need to be supplemented in the diet the only exception being the D vitamin as the body can obtain this through sunlight.

Vitamins in the body have various functions, some of them are co-factors in enzyme activity, some antioxidants (the breakdown of an anti oxidant is something that can prevent oxygen from doing damage in the body) and one vitamins (D) is a pro-hormone. In some parts of the world vitamins are very deficient and diseases can occur from lack of vitamins in extreme cases however in the UK we usually do not witness this and just see minor effects of vitamin deficiency.

The Fat Soluble Vitamins

The fat soluble vitamins are A,D,E and K these are  absorbed in fat and have different functions as previously explained.

Vitamin A – This is used by the body for functions such as lining the digestive system and lungs, cell differentiation and normal growth and development also for normal vision and overall effect of the immune system. This is found in 2 forms first being retinol in foods from animal sources and the second at carotenoids found in plant sources. Vitamin A can be found in sources such as liver, whole milk, cheese and butter as retinol. It can also be found in the carotenoid form from foods such as milk carrots green veg and orange coloured fruits.

Vitamin D – The body absorbs its vitamin D from the suns ultra violet rays and for most people this is the most important source purely because of the amount of foods that actually contain it. It is used as a hormone to control the amount of calcium absorbed by the intestines and it is essential for the absorption of phosphorus and bone mineral and structure. Deficiency in vitamin D can lead to diseases effecting the skeleton such as rickets in children and also pain and bone weakness in adults. Some foods that do contain vitamin D are some animal products such as eggs, oily fish, butter and meat and also margarine has to be fortified with it by law.

Vitamin E – this is an antioxidant for the body and is used to protect cells in the body from damage by free radicals. Some studies have said it can reduce risk of cancer and heart disease also. E vitamins can be found in vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts and seeds.

Vitamin K – This is found in foods from plant and animal sources and is also made by the bacteria found in the gut. K vitamins are essential when it comes to normal bone structure and clotting of the blood.

The Water Soluble vitamins

Vitamin C – this is required by the body for normal structure once again and functions of the connective tissues in the skin, cartilage and bones by helping produce collagen which is the protein inside these tissues. On the back of this we can then see the reason it is used so highly in the healing process and fighting off disease and illnesses. Vitamin C is also used to help with the absorption of iron and also has high antioxidant activities once again to fight off damage caused by free radicals. When the body is under stress it uses supplies up quickly, one such thing that causes this stress is smoking therefore smokers should make sure they have sufficient supplies of vitamin C at all times. Vitamin C can be found almost exclusively in plant sources such as most fruit and veg however fresh milk and liver do contain a very small amount.

Vitamin B – The B vitamin is actually a group containing various vitamins most of them all with the same effect of releasing energy from the foods that you eat during the day and helping the body metabolise things such as protein and carbohydrates. Deficiency can lead to low energy levels, bad skin and dryness of the skin around the lips and nose areas. It is also used for maintaining good blood levels (B6 and B12) and also making sure there is normal structure in the nervous system

The B vitamins and their food sources are Thiamin (B1) found in whole grains, nuts and meat, Riboflavin (B12) found in milks, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, liver and green veg, Niacin (B3) made from the body by converting the amino tryptophan, B6 which is found in beef, fish, poultry and also in eggs, whole grains and a some veg, the final B vitamin is B12 and is exclusively from animal sources such as milk, meat and eggs it is for this reason that vegans are highly recommended to supplement with this vitamin.

As you can see from this write up the vitamins that are used in the body are a very complex group and it is easy to see now why one wonder pill doesn’t work however there is still some forms available that include separate forms of tablets which you take at different times with different meals a couple I would highly recommend are Universal Animal Paks and CNP Pro-Vital

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