You may have seen many advertisements about the benefits of vitamin supplements. You may have also seen these supplements on the shelves of various stores and supermarkets.
But why are supplements so important? Or how they help you? Or do you need these supplements?
If you also have questions about vitamins and supplements, keep reading.
Without knowing the basics, taking even the best supplement in India may not help. So, let’s dive in!
What Are Vitamins?
Before moving ahead, let’s have a quick look at what vitamins are.
Minerals and vitamins are substances required by your body to stay healthy and function normally.
If you want to go for a walk, enjoy colors, or maintain the health of your bones, minerals and vitamins help you.
Vitamins are organic compounds made up of carbon and other elements. Minerals are present in soil, rocks, and water. Plants get these minerals while they grow, and animals get these minerals when they eat the plants. In contrast to vitamins, minerals are inorganic substances.
The best part is that you can get all the major vitamins and minerals from your food. Your body can also produce certain vitamins, such as vitamin D, when exposed to the sun.
However, you may need vitamins to bridge nutritional gaps or deficiencies. Vitamins help you utilize the energy from the food. They also help your cells to multiply and build proteins. Some vitamins are also essential for building bones, strengthening your skin, and improving your vision.
Minerals also help carry out vital body functions. They are essential to maintain fluid balance and carry oxygen to body cells. They also help in the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
All in all, vitamins and minerals are really important for your body.
Types Of Vitamins
Vitamins are mainly of two types:
Water-soluble vitamins: They are soluble in water, and your body can absorb them directly. This group includes B complex vitamins and vitamin C.
Fat-soluble vitamins: These vitamins bind to fats. Your body stores these vitamins for future use. Vitamins belonging to this group include A, D, E, and K.
These vitamins are present in the watery portions of the food. Your body can directly absorb them into the blood while your intestines digest the food.
As your body is made up majorly of water, most water-valuable vitamins easily circulate throughout the body. If your vitamins level increase, the kidney removes excess vitamins through urine.
Common Water-Soluble vitamins include:
- Thiamin (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
- Biotin (vitamin B7)
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
- Vitamin C
Functions of Water-Soluble Vitamins
While these vitamins have various roles in the body, a major task is to generate energy from the food.
Here are a few ways some water-soluble vitamins help you:
Providing energy: Various B vitamins act as coenzymes that help release energy from your food. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid help in energy production.
Producing collagen: Vitamin C synthesizes collagen that aids in the healing of wounds, forming a base for bones and teeth, and supporting blood vessels.
Building cells and proteins: Vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid help metabolize amino acids, building blocks of your body. They also aid in the multiplication of body cells.
It’s essential to know that some water-soluble vitamins can stay in your body. So, one should take vitamins only if the doctor recommends them and in the exact dose.
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins that easily enter the bloodstream, fat-soluble vitamins enter through lymph channels in the digestive tract. Most fat-soluble vitamins need proteins to carry them throughout the body.
Your body stores excess vitamins in your body and releases them when needed. Oils and fatty foods act as a reservoir for fat-soluble vitamins. The liver and fatty tissues store excess vitamins in your body.
Fat-soluble vitamins include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Functions of Fat-Soluble Vitamins
This set of vitamins keeps your skin, digestive tract, eyes, nerves, and skin healthy. Some of the major roles are:
Building bones: Vitamins A, D, and K aid in bone formation
Protecting vision: Vitamin A protects your vision and keeps your cells healthy
Protecting body: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps your body from damage caused by free radicals
As your body can store fat-soluble vitamins, they can build up in toxic amounts. This especially holds if you are taking an excessive dose of a supplement.
Your body stores most of the important minerals. These minerals move in your body in different ways. For instance, your body can quickly absorb potassium in the bloodstream. It can freely move in the blood, and excess potassium is removed by the kidneys. Calcium needs a carrier to move around, similar to fat-soluble vitamins.
Some major minerals include:
Functions of Minerals
One of the major functions of minerals is to maintain salt-water balance in the body. Minerals responsible for this function are phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals also support healthy bone development. Sulfur supports the healthy functioning of the skin, hair, and nails.
Excess minerals can result in various health problems. For instance, excess sodium can cause you to lose calcium from your body. Calcium binds with sodium to remove the excess salt from your body. So, you need to lose calcium to remove excess sodium. Excess phosphorus prevents adequate absorption of magnesium.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to maintain healthy functions of the body. Most of these nutrients are available from the food you eat. In case of deficiency, you can take supplements to get adequate nutrition.
However, an excess amount of vitamins or minerals may cause problems. It is recommended to take supplements as suggested by your doctor.