You may spend a lot of time thinking about your diet. You may know how many calories you are taking in, and maybe you try hard to make sure you consume the proper amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables when you can. Maybe you make an extra effort to eat a certain type of food you have heard is good for brain function or heart health. You may even take daily vitamin supplements to make sure you are providing your body with the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals it needs.
If you take a daily vitamin, you may do so because you know it is “good for you,” but do you know exactly how each vitamin and mineral contributes to your overall wellness?
According to the National Institute of Health, “there are 13 vitamins your body needs.” Each has a different and important function:
- Vitamin A: Important for eyesight, proper growth, cell structure, and a healthy appetite.
- Vitamin C: Helps the immune system. Aids in healing and cell function.
- Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb calcium, so that you can have healthy bones and teeth.
- Vitamin E: Important for brain function and the growth of red blood cells.
- Vitamin K: Needed for proper blood clotting.
- Thiamin: Helps with digestion and improves appetite.
- Riboflavin: Needed for healthy skin, nails, and hair.
- Niacin: For proper blood circulation and a healthy nervous system.
- Vitamin B-6: Helps prevent skin disease and nerve problems and helps the body maintain its blood sugar levels.
- Vitamin B-12: Needed for the development of red blood cells, nerve formation, and cell growth. Helps the body absorb and use carbohydrates.
- Folate or Folic Acid: Helps with the production of red blood cells. Helpful for pregnant women in their first trimester.
- Pantothenic acid: A critical vitamin that aids the body in breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Biotin: Helps the body process fatty acids. Can help improve blood sugar control in diabetics.
Your body also needs some essential minerals to stay in tip top shape. Dietary minerals are important for well being, among them are Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc.
You may believe that all you need is a daily vitamin and mineral supplement to maintain your health, but according to the Mayo Clinic, your best sources of nutrition come from the food that you eat. While supplements can work along with your diet, they are not necessarily as effective as the vitamins and minerals you can find in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. In fact, if you pay careful attention to what you are eating, the money you spend on expensive vitamin supplements may be completely wasted.
Everybody is different, and some people do find that their diet does not provide the proper amount of vitamins and minerals. Individuals who don’t eat well, vegetarians, women with a heavy menstrual flow, pregnant women, postmenopausal women, and individuals who have a hard time absorbing certain nutrients may want to consult with their doctor or dietitian to decide whether or not they should take a dietary supplement.