Vitamins are organic compounds and essential nutrients that perform hundreds of roles within the body, making them necessary to sustain life. Most vitamins need to come from outside sources, like food or supplements, because the human body does not produce enough of them. While you may believe that you’re eating a well balanced diet full of the nutrients you need, this is not always the case.
There are the 13 essential vitamins required for the body to work properly:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
- Folate (folic acid and B9)
Vitamins are grouped into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Stored in the body’s fatty tissue, fat-soluble vitamins are more easily absorbed by the body when accompanied by dietary fat. Fat-soluble vitamins gain entry to the bloodstream via lymph channels in the intestinal wall. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamins K, A, D, and E. On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins are used by the body right away. Any leftover water-soluble vitamins exit the body via urine.
However, vitamins aren’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, every organism has different vitamin requirements.
For example, humans need to find food sources of vitamin C, but dogs don’t because they can produce enough vitamin C for their own needs.
Why Are Vitamins Important?
Vitamins and minerals are often referred to as micronutrients because the body only requires very small amounts of them. However, failing to get even those small quantities can practically guarantee health problems. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to things like blindness (vitamin A deficiency), scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), and rickets (vitamin D deficiency).
While a lack of essential vitamins can cause significant harm to your body, getting enough vitamins can lead to substantial health benefits. For example, getting enough vitamins can lead to stronger bones, healthy teeth, better vision, and the prevention of birth defects.
The body produces muscle, skin, and bone on a daily basis. Red blood cells carry nutrients and oxygen to remote parts of your body and formulate chemical messengers that track between organs and issue instructions to help keep you alive. To keep this process going, your body needs vitamins, minerals, and other dietary components. Vitamins have a big job – they help heal wounds, boost your immune system, repair cellular damage, convert food into energy, and more.
Water-soluble vitamins have many tasks, but among the most important are helping converting food into energy and keeping tissues healthy. They also build proteins and cells and make collagen. Fat-soluble vitamins help keep your eyes, nervous system, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract in good shape.
5 Best Vitamins to Take
These days, it seems like everyone is taking some kind of vitamin or supplement. In fact, in 2016, dietary supplements were a $37 billion-a-year business in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health, and this number has only grown since then. It’s no mystery that vitamins can have major health benefits but with so many vitamins on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to decipher which ones are right for you.
We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Below we’ve listed our top five best vitamins to take and broken down their main health benefits. Although all the vitamins listed below are relatively safe, keep in mind that it’s wise to consult your family doctor before introducing new supplements to your diet.
1. Find a Good Multivitamin
Multivitamins are the one-stop-shop kind of supplement. They contain a combination of the minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that your body needs to support overall health and wellness. This includes vitamins A, C, D, E, and K and B vitamins like B12, niacin, and thiamine. Most people take multivitamins to fill in nutritional gaps and prevent deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, and this is the exact reason to take them. This is especially helpful for those with food allergies or otherwise restricted diets.
Multivitamins have been linked to several health benefits, aside from correcting nutritional deficiencies. Studies have shown that regularly taking a multivitamin can help maintain bone strength as we age. Although it’s normal to lose bone mineral density, certain people may have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, including those with nutritional deficiencies. Taking a multivitamin that contains calcium and vitamin D can provide your body with the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain strong, healthy bones.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is directly involved in cortisol production that takes place in your adrenal glands. Most multivitamins contain vitamin C, which provides a variety of other health benefits including boosting the immune system and protecting your body against free radicals. Other studies suggest that multivitamins can also improve eye health and may improve heart health.
Multivitamins can be found in pill, capsule, liquid, powder, or even injectable form, and they can be formulated to fit the nutritional needs of anyone, regardless of age, gender, or health status. Our favorites are the Healthycell BioActive Gel and the Passion 4 Life Liquid Vitamins and Minerals, which come in liquid form so you can easily mix them into a drink or smoothie.
2. Green Superfood Powder
Surprise! Most people don’t eat enough vegetables! Green superfood powders are dietary supplements which are designed to help you reach your body’s desired vegetable intake. They can be mixed into water, smoothies, or another liquid of your choice.
Green superfood powders can support your body’s immune system, detoxification process, and more. We recommend the Mighty Maca Plus Superfood Powder, which can help you experience increased energy levels, improved moods, heightened libido, reliable hormone therapy, PMS relief and complete and overall well-being. It can also help reduce the inflammation response, improve digestion, aid metabolism, and stabilize blood sugar.
It contains 42 healthy ingredients including: Maca, Turmeric, Flax, Oat Beta Glucan, Mangosteen, Spirulina, Chlorella, Cat’s Claw, Grape Seed Extract, Milk Thistle, Resveratrol, Bromelain, Papain, Amylase, Quercetin, Cinnamon, Green Tea and Liquorice. The Mighty Maca Plus powder is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
You can also combine the Maca Powder with exercise. If you struggle with laborious recovery from exercise, this alkalizing, natural mix of antioxidants can help improve your workouts and help speed up recovery times while decreasing muscle soreness.
Omega-3s might be the supplement that you’re missing. They have a variety of health benefits, including fighting depression and anxiety, which are among the most common mental disorders in the world. Studies indicate that those who regularly consume omega-3s are less likely to be depressed. Further, those with depression and anxiety who began taking omega-3 supplements saw their symptoms improve.
ALA, EPA, and DHA are the three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, and of the three, EPA appears to be the most effective at combating depression. DHA, on the other had, is a major structural component of a part of the eye called the retina. Vision problems may arise if your body doesn’t get enough DHA. DHA omega-3’s have been linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration as well, which is a leading causes of vision loss and permanent eye damage.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential in preventing and managing heart disease. Studies have shown that the supplement may help lower blood pressure, slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries, reduce triglycerides, reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke, and reduce the likelihood of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.
Inflammation is a natural response to damage and infections in the body, however long-term inflammation can contribute to chronic illness including heart disease and cancer. Studies have shown that intake of omega-3s can reduce chronic inflammation.
Our top omega-3 supplement is the Heyedrate Eye Health Supplement, which contains a combination of omega-3, omega-7, and powerful antioxidants. The supplement will continuously nourish not only your eyes, but your whole body. Our favourite veggie-friendly option is the Nested Naturals Vegan Omega-3. The best part? These don’t have that fishy taste!
Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that are essential for good digestive and gut health. These “good” bacteria can help boost your energy levels, aid in weight loss, and help you achieve healthier looking skin. More and more studies are uncovering how the balance (or imbalance) of bacteria in your gut is tied to overall health and disease.
We recommend Garden of Life’s Once Daily Women’s Probiotic, which has a unique formula with 50 billion live probiotic cultures and is doctor-formulated specially for women and their needs.
Probiotics have also been linked to improved digestive health and immune function. An imbalance of bacteria in your digestive tract means that there are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria, which may be the result of illness, poor diet, and/or medication such as antibiotics. Consequences of a gut imbalance include allergies, digestive issues, obesity, mental health problems, and more.
Probiotics are also well known for their ability to prevent or reduce the severity of diarrhea, which is a common side effect of antibiotics. This is because antibiotics can impact the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract.
Probiotics are obviously a powerhouse and can even help with symptoms of adrenal fatigue due to the connection between the brain and the gut. If you’ve ever had nervous butterflies in your stomach, then you’ve already experienced this connection. In instances like these, your brain is diverting energy away from digestion while your body attempts to deal with a perceived threat, which in this case would be whatever is making you feel nervous. People who have adrenal fatigue may experience this frequently, meaning that the body is in a constant state of fight or flight. This undoubtedly compromises digestive function; which supplementation can help but will not entirely be able to fix on its own.
Constant worrying and anxiety can also affect the way food is broken down and assimilated by the body. Whenever we feel stressed, our muscles respond by tightening up. If you eat even the highest quality of food while in this state, the muscular movement that allows food to smoothly pass through the digestive tract will be compromised and impaired. This can lead to undigested particles of food being passed into the gut, which results in a range of issues from constipation to dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the intestines of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics can help restore balance and order throughout the digestive tract to help ease digestion and battle issues like constipation.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is made within the body after exposure to the sun. However, laying out in the sun isn’t the healthiest way to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and may not even be possible for those who don’t live in sunny climates. Instead, opt for a vitamin D supplement or oil.
Our favorite is the Optimal Vitamin D3 Liquid by Seeking Health, which contains pure and potent vitamin D3 in an olive oil base. We love this one because it’s super easy to drop it into a green smoothie or glass of water!
Vitamin D drops can help support a healthy immune system, cellular health, and calcium absorption to help keep your body in good health. It is especially important for regulating cell growth and helping with cell-to-cell communication. Studies have shown that vitamin D can reduce cancer progression by slowing the development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue. It can also increase cancer cell death and reduce cell proliferation and metastasis.
Vitamin D is also known to help support muscle function, promote healthy blood pressure and circulation, and build and strengthen bone mass by helping you absorb calcium. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to osteomalacia, or a softening of the bones. Vitamin D deficiencies have also been associated with hypertension, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Do you take a multivitamin or any of the others listed above? What benefits have you noticed? Let us know in the comments below!
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