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A Handy Guide to Vitamins

These days, it can be pretty tricky to know exactly what you’re supposed to be taking to supplement your diet. TV commercials bombard us, filling us with the fear of God that we are somehow dangerously deficient in some vitamin we have never heard of. It is very easy to throw your hands in the air and admit defeat. It just falls into the ‘too hard basket’ and we carry on as before. 

But in doing so, we throw the baby out with the bathwater. You see, making informed decisions about vitamins can vastly improve your quality of life. That is why I have put together a little guide on the different vitamins; why you need them, and how to get them.

Vitamin A 

AKA: known as retinoids and carotene. 

Benefits: This lowers risk of lung and prostate cancer. It also keeps your tissues and skin healthy, while playing an important role in bone growth in the immune system.

Sources of retinoid: Eggs, prawns, fortified milk, swiss cheese, beef liver.

Sources of carotene: sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, mangoes, squash 

Deficiency: Inflamed skin, respiratory infections, infertility, night blindness

Vitamin B1

AKA: Thiamin

Benefits: This helps convert food into energy, which has obvious health benefits. Thiamin is essential for the development of healthy skin and hair and muscles. Lastly, it is important for nerve function.

Sources: Brown rice, pork chops, watermelon, soymilk

Deficiency: Tingling in the hands or feet, balance issues, mental confusion or short term memory loss

Vitamin B2

AKA: Riboflavin

Benefits: Again, it helps convert food into energy. It is a required vitamin to help healthy skin, blood, hair and brain.

Sources: Cheese, yoghurt, meat, leafy greens, wholegrains and cereals

Deficiency: Skin disorders, excess blood, hair loss, cracked lips, reproductive problems and a sore throat.

The good news is that most people get a sufficient amount of this in their diets, and you would probably only need to add a supplement if you were so directed by a health professional

Vitamin B3

AKA: Niacin

Benefits: The usual “food into energy”. It is essential for healthy blood cells, skin as well as the brain and nervous systems

Sources: Meat, poultry, peanut butter, potatoes, mushrooms

Deficiency: Leads to pellagra: a scaly rash which appears on the skin exposed to sunlight. It can also cause constipation, diarrhoea and depression

Vitamin B5

AKA: Pantothenic Acid

Benefits: Food into energy (for something new). It also helps form helpful fats, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones and haemoglobin. 

Sources: You can pick up B5 in a range of different foods, such as whole grains, chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, tomato, avocado

Deficiency: It is rare, but a deficiency can cause fatigue, depression, insomnia stomach pains, burning feet, and respiratory infections

Vitamin B6

AKA: Pyridoxine

Benefits: Lowers your risk of heart disease, supports healthy sleep patterns, regulates consistent mood. It influences your cognitive function and immune function

Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, potatoes, non citrus fruits like watermelon or bananas.

Deficiency: A swollen tongue, cracked lips, itchy rashes, depression, confusion and a weak immune system.

Vitamin B9

AKA: Folic Acid

Benefits: It is vital for the creation of new cells. It helps to prevent brain and spine defects in birth, and as such, pregnant women ought to be careful that they get enough B9 in their diet. Can reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer

Sources: Orange juice, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, cereals and grains

Deficiency: Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough of this in their diet, and it can cause

Vitamin B12

AKA: Cobalamin

Benefits: Lowers your risk if heart disease, assists in making new cells, helps to make DNA and red blood cells

Sources: Fortified soymilk eggs, cereal, meat, fish, poultry

Deficiency: As we get older, we have trouble absorbing B12 from our food, and a supplement might be a good idea. A deficiency can cause memory loss, dementia, and numbness in the legs and arms

Vitamin C

AKA: Ascorbic Acid

Benefits: Lowers risk of cancers of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and breast. It also helps protect against cataracts. It functions as an antioxidant which can neutralise those unstable molecules which set out to damage cells.

Sources: Citrus fruits, juices, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, strawberries, potatoes

Deficiency: Despite anecdotal evidence, there is not a clear link between Vitamin C and avoiding colds

Vitamin D3

AKA: Calciferol

Benefits: Helps to support strong healthy bones, and teeth.

Sources: Fatty fish, fortified cereals, margarine or fortified milk, ostelin vitamin d3 supplement

Deficiency: Most people don’t get enough of this in their diet, and so a ostelin vitamin d3 supplement is a helpful idea. This is especially true if you don’t get a lot of sun in your day to day life. ostelin vitamin d3 will offset your risk of developing rickets. We have deep shelves of ostelin vitamin d3 so pick some up today.

Vitamin E

AKA: Alpha-tocopherol

Benefits: This also acts as an antioxidant, neutralising molecules which are out to damage cells. There is also compelling evidence that it prevents the onset of alzheimer’s disease.

Sources: Vegetable oil, salad dressings, margarines, leafy green vegetables, whole grain nuts

Deficiency: Mental degradation as ageing occurs. 

Vitamin K

AKA: Phylloquinone Menadione

Benefits: This vitamin activates proteins and calcium which are essential to a healthy level of blood clotting. It also prevents hip fractures. 

Sources: Eggs, liver, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, sprouts

I hope that this has settled some of the concerns you have about vitamins. It goes without saying, supplementing vitamins is best discussed with your doctor to ensure that you are getting the dosages right, and focusing on the areas which you might actually be deficient in, not just those that have expensive marketing campaigns behind them.

I will cover the different minerals your body needs at some stage. But that is  another post for another day. In the meantime, I hope you are a little more enlightened as to how you can live healthily.

Yours in health, 

Floyd.