August 15, 2018
We all know that our bodies require certain vitamins and minerals to function properly, but do you know exactly how your body processes and makes use of them? Whether you strive to maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals or need to increase a certain nutrient as part of your health regimen, it’s important to be able to identify the vitamins you need and understand how they benefit you.
Here’s what some of the most common vitamins do for your body:
Beta-carotene, a nutrient that is ultimately converted into what we refer to as Vitamin A, is found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and squash. This fundamental building block of health and well-being performs a number of primary bodily functions. For example, we need Vitamin A to maintain good eye health and vision.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient responsible for not only keeping our vision in check, but it is vital to our immune systems and reproductive health. As if that weren’t enough, this super-vitamin also helps to regulate organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
There are a range of B Vitamins to keep track of, but the important takeaway is that these vitamins fuel your system, giving your body the energy it needs to complete everyday tasks. These beneficial nutrients are often lumped together as “B complex” vitamins, which include minerals like thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and biotin (B7). Meat, dairy, and beans are rich in B vitamins, and they help the body produce energy from the food you eat. B complex vitamins also help to generate red blood cells, which are essential for transporting fresh oxygen throughout the body.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant like no other — not only does it help the body recover from viruses like the common cold, it helps regenerate tissue, decrease cholesterol, and it can even prevent chronic conditions like heart disease. Research shows that Vitamin C may also protect against a variety of cancers thanks to its ability to fight free radicals. This water-soluble nutrient is found in natural abundance and can be easily consumed by incorporating specific foods into your diet.
Leafy greens like kale, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and other fresh foods including strawberries, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts contain a healthy amount of this crucial vitamin.
Most commonly known for its abundance in milk, Vitamin D is critical for maintaining healthy cognition. Beyond its ability to strengthen our mental faculties, Vitamin D enables calcium absorption, regulates cell growth, and reduces inflammation. Unlike other vitamins and minerals, you can’t get the right amount of Vitamin D through food alone. One of the best ways to get this essential nutrient is to expose your bare skin to the sun. Supplements are another option worth considering, but if you’re able to step outside to soak up some sunshine, getting Vitamin D the natural way is best.
Once you know how your body makes uses of these vitamins, you’ll want to be sure you’re ingesting them in a way that yields the most fruitful results. Some foods provide more healthy benefits when consumed raw, while other fruits or vegetables need to be cooked to draw out the good stuff. As long as you pay attention to your diet and introduce supplements upon the advice of your doctor, you’ll find it easy to get the nutrients you need in a way that works for you.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.