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It is strange to think of our bodies as finely tuned machines, but that is what they are. They require the right fuel and a fair amount of maintenance to keep them running. Fortunately for us, we live on a planet where the right fuel exists in abundance.
In this post, we will take a closer look at the main vitamins that our bodies need to function optimally. We will go over some interesting facts you have not heard of before.
There are two broad classifications of vitamins.
Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. If you consume too many of those, your body will flush them out. You will notice that your urine is different. Beta carotene, for example, can change the color of your urine to a dark yellow or even light orange. You would have to take large quantities to overdose on it.
The vitamins in this category are:
● Vitamin B1: Is necessary for proper nerve and muscle function and energy production. It will help you recover from a workout. So, make sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts part of your post-workout snack to get your share of B1.
● Vitamin B2: This vitamin powers the muscles. Make sure to get your dose half an hour before a workout. Eggs, salmon, and almonds are all excellent sources.
● Vitamin B3: This vitamin helps clear out bad cholesterol. Without it, the body cannot metabolize fat or glucose. You will feel sluggish and be more prone to so-called lifestyle diseases. Get it from peanuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, or peas.
● Vitamin B5: Feeling stressed out, and you cannot relax? You might be short of vitamin B5. It regulates the adrenal glands. It is also necessary for the formation of new red blood cells and metabolizing fatty acids. Get if from sunflower seeds, mushrooms, eggs, and avocado.
● Vitamin B6: Is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Get it from tuna, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and dried prunes.
● Vitamin B7: Without B7, your body would not be able to metabolize any of the macronutrients. Get it from sweet potato, broccoli, salmon, and eggs.
● Vitamin B9: If you have a weak immune system, and feel fatigued often, you are probably low on B9. Find it in spinach, black-eyed peas, lentils, and asparagus.
● Vitamin B12: B12 helps us metabolize macronutrients and produce new blood cells. You can find it in mackerel, trout, eggs, and tofu.
● Vitamin C: Helps boost immunity and fight infections. Find it in kale, citrus fruits, guavas, and bell peppers. If you feel exhausted and have a weak immune system, or need to recover from a workout, do include more vitamin Bs and vitamin C.
Fat-soluble vitamins are a different matter altogether. The body will store them in its fatty tissues. If you take more than the body needs, they build up to toxic levels, which can lead to a fatal outcome.
The vitamins in this category are:
● Vitamin A: Is essential for healthy teeth, skin, and skeletal system. Get it from carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, or cod liver oil.
● Vitamin D: Helps boost the immune system and combat fatigue. It is also necessary for healthy bones. Get it from eggs, tofu, mushrooms, and salmon. Your very best source, though, is the sun. Try to get at least 15 minutes of exposure when the sun is at its peak. Expose as much skin as possible and ditch the sunscreen for this session.
● Vitamin E: Is essential for good immunity and regulating cholesterol. Find it in sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ oil.
● Vitamin K: Helps the blood clot and keeps your bones strong. Find it in cooked kale and broccoli or raw spinach.
Do We Need to Take Supplements?
Ideally speaking, no. However, if we want to get the right mix of vitamins, we have to eat a well-rounded diet that includes fresh ingredients. We can chemically recreate the compounds, but if it were that simple, all we would have to do for good health is to pop the right pill.
In reality, the foods that we eat contain hundreds of compounds that work together. We are nowhere near the point of recreating the full nutrient profile of even a simple apple.
Still, if there is no alternative, choosing a high-quality supplement can fill in the gaps. However, always try to get the vitamins you need from food sources first.
As you can see from the list above, some food sources are superfoods in their own right. The lowly sunflower seed, for example, has nutrients that help boost the immune system, fight fatigue, repair muscles, and provide energy. Now that is the kind of supplement we all need.
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, is a practicing physician who is the Co-Founder and Project Manager of MedAlertHelp.org, a site dedicated to improving your knowledge about health, nutrition, fitness, aging, retirement, and much more. He leads a remarkable team of medical writers, medical alert reviewers, and experts in the realms of life insurance, retirement, and marketing devoted to saving your time and simplifying the process of finding the perfect solutions for everyone.