Your Ultimate A-K Vitamin Guide

Vitaminsby Dr. Traci F. Gardner

What exactly are vitamins?  They’re compounds required to help your body function, and they are essential for growth and maintenance.  Why? Because the human body is unable to produce adequate amounts of many of the compounds it needs. So they must be obtained from foods. If you have a balanced diet, you usually acquire sufficient quantities of vitamins. However if you have poor or erratic eating habits, or a highly selective diet (vegetarian diet, for instance, with no dairy products), you may need vitamin supplements.

There are six vitamin groups; Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex ( B1,B2, Niacin, B12, Biotin and B6), Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.

Although vitamins are only needed in small amounts they’re essential. Take a moment to think about your diet. Are you missing any of the food sources list below? Most individual diets are diverse enough to obtain sufficient quantities. But many aren’t, even some of the so-called healthy diets.

Here’s the only vitamin breakdown you’ll ever need:

Vitamin A: Promotes normal growth, healthy skin, wound healing and aids in night and color vision. Excess amounts, though, can result in anorexia, slow growth, poor wound healing, fragile bones and hair loss, among other issues. Food sources: yellow vegetables, dairy products and liver.

B Vitamins: Promotes red blood cell formation and assist in a variety of metabolic activity. Most of the B vitamins in excess are not harmful.  However B6 can cause problems with nerves and normal sensation. Food sources: fish, soy, milk, poultry, eggs and whole grains.

Vitamin C: Strengthens muscle and skin, and hastens the healing of wounds and bones. Also increases resistance to infection, though it does not prevent it. Excesses amounts of C may cause a kidney condition. Food sources: citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach and broccoli.

Vitamin D: Promotes tooth and bone formation and regulates absorption of minerals like Calcium. Large doses do not give you stronger bones and in fact can be potentially toxic.  Vitamin D is excess can cause anorexia, weight loss, kidney conditions, and heart arrhythmias. Sunlight is a great source of daily allowance. Note: Most children and adults are deficient in Vitamin D. They don’t receive enough daily sunlight and/or don’t eat enough dairy products. The daily allowance is approximately 600-800 IU. Although individuals can take up to 4000 IU depending on age before reaching toxic levels, they should consult their doctor before doing so. Food sources: dairy products, egg yolk, fortified margarine and other fortified products.

Vitamin E: Has distinctive antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are important because they protect cells from damaging effects that can contribute to the development of Heart disease and cancer. Food sources; nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

Vitamin K: Known as the clotting vitamin, because without it blood will not clot. Food sources include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, fish and liver.

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