Essential vitamins and minerals are vital to everyday health. Interestingly, the uses of many essential vitamins were discovered only when people observed the effects that their deficiencies caused. The more we understand about our health the more we realize our minds and bodies need proper daily support to function properly. How much do you know about the essential vitamins and minerals you need each day?
Vitamin A (as known as retinol or beta-carotene) is said to help build good vision and promote bone development. It has antioxidant properties to support immune and cellular health. Vitamin C, also an antioxidant, is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for building connective tissues (such as joint cartilage and collagen), bones, and teeth. It assists in metabolizing other vitamins and is vital to proper immune system function. Vitamin E helps maintain healthy cells and may help promote cognitive function. Like vitamins A and C, it also functions as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that combinations of vitamin A, C, and E help protect the macula, the region of the eye that is integral for detailed vision. All three nutrients can be found in many different foods, so you aren't limited for choice:
- Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes, beef liver, fruits and eggs.
- Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, peppers, and greens like broccoli.
- Vitamin E – Whole grains, nuts, and spinach.
Being Healthy Doesn't Need to "B" Complex
The B-complex vitamins are mostly concerned with energy production in your body. Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B6 all help metabolize or produce energy. Vitamin B1 helps metabolize carbohydrates, while B3 releases energy from carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B2 assists in energy production and red blood cell formation, while B6 supports nervous system function. Red blood cells are vital in transporting fresh oxygen to every part of your body and taking carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Another important B vitamin is B9 (folic acid). Folic acid is known to support a healthy brain and heart, and it also synthesizes proteins and DNA. Folic acid can be found in green, leafy vegetables and whole grains. A study done at the Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, on B vitamins as biomarkers showed favorable results for supporting cognitive health and brain function with folic acid.
D + Calcium = Healthy Bones
Vitamin D and calcium are two of the most important vitamins and minerals for the integrity of your bones and teeth. Even though vitamin D is quite well known, recent reports say many people still aren't getting enough. Research shows that, worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, and deficiencies can be found in all ethnicities and age groups. Vital to healthy bones and immune function, vitamin D can be produced in skin cells whenever you're exposed to UV rays from sunlight. Despite this fact, people may still not be getting enough sun exposure due to location and skin being concealed by clothing. Vitamin D also aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Together, all three nutrients keep your internal structure strong and healthy.
"Zinc" Hard About Other Nutrients
Once you've checked off all the letter-vitamins on your nutrition list, don't forget to include minerals in your diet, too. Trace minerals such as iron and selenium are all important to your daily health, albeit in small doses. Iron is necessary to produce the hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of iron in brain development, showing it is needed for the mind as well. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damage. Zinc is an essential mineral to many different bodily processes. Most notably it supports immune function. A recent study looked at the role that both vitamin C and zinc play in boosting immune health. Results showed that supplementation with a combination of zinc and vitamin C "was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities."
Multitask Your Nutrition with a Multivitamin
Keeping track of all the amounts and types of vitamins you need to take each day can be exhausting, but it's worth the effort because of all the ways they can positively influence your health. Luckily there are multivitamin supplements out there that can help you reach the recommended daily value of all these essentials. Multivitamins are often called a daily insurance policy on nutrition. By understanding the basics and where to get them, you can stay one step ahead in fortifying good, daily nutrition for healthy living.