The 12 Vitamins Your Body Needs and Their Benefits
Vitamins and minerals are two of the most important types of nutrients your body needs in order to thrive, survive, and function optimally. They also play an essential role in terms of immunity, energy, and metabolism.
Vitamins also help your body fight free radicals, infections, diseases, and keep your nerves & cells healthy. You can get vitamins from the foods you eat, as well as taking dietary supplements.
You can see commercials and advertisements showing supplements that are packed with vitamins from A to Z. In terms of the alphabet, there are 26 letters. Which can make you think, “do I need to supply my body with those 26 vitamins every day?” Not just that, you can count B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 on the list too.
Minerals, on the other hand, are elements that support different body functions, and they are found in foods and on earth. Iron, calcium, and potassium are some examples.
Although all those vitamins are good for your body, there are 12 of the most essential ones that play major roles in your overall health. And you need to make sure that your body is getting enough of these essential nutrients daily so they can all serve their significant functions.
The 12 essential vitamins your body needs and their function
- Vitamin A: keeps your major organs such as heart, lungs, and liver well functioning. It is also needed for the reproductive system, eye health, growth & development, and immune system.
- Vitamin B: as previously mentioned, vitamin B is composed of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. All these are responsible for converting protein, fats, and carbohydrates as the body’s primary source of energy. Vitamin B provides folate too, which are needed by babies in the womb for healthy development, as well as breastfeeding mums.
- Vitamin C: one of the most popular vitamins, plays an important role in immunity, which also protects your body against common diseases. Vitamin C is an antioxidant too, that helps neutralize the damaging free radicals and fights early signs of aging.
- Vitamin D: also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, is mostly absorbed by the sun through your skin. When your skin absorbs sunlight, it helps strengthen your bones, regulates blood pressure, and boosts the immune system function.
- Vitamin E: helps prevent blood clots, contains antioxidant properties, and protects cells from free radicals. Vitamin E is also essential for a healthy vision and a stronger immune system.
- Vitamin K: assists the body in making certain proteins that are needed for bone development and preventing blood clots. A person that suffers from hemorrhage and malabsorption disorder may be advised to increase their vitamin K intake.
- Calcium: a mineral that plays the most significant role in the structural support of bones and teeth development. It also serves a function in neurological, metabolic, and muscular health.
- Iron: an essential mineral that builds the red blood cells and hemoglobin — a type of protein that provides oxygen to the blood and cells of the body. Sufficient iron will help prevent you from diseases like anemia and lupus.
- Magnesium: a natural muscle relaxant that helps smooth muscle and lessens muscle contractions. This mineral also manages more than 300 enzyme functions in the body, which are needed for glucose control, nerve function, and heart rhythms.
- Omega-3: a beneficial mineral from fatty acids, mostly found in fishes. Omega-3 plays a huge role in heart, eye, brain, skin, and nail health too.
- Potassium is a natural electrolyte, which keeps your body well hydrated. It also supports healthy blood pressure and normalizes healthy fluids in cells.
- Zinc: is an essential mineral for growth and development, and needed the most in pregnancy and childhood. It also plays an important role in maintaining a stronger immune system, thyroid function, and wound healing.
How can I get the essential vitamins that my body needs?
Vitamins and minerals come from the foods that you eat. Each vitamin has their own food sources that you can incorporate into your meals daily. Here are as follows:
- Green leafy vegetables, fish oils, tomato, red bell peppers, mango, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes, lettuce, and beef liver are excellent sources of vitamin A.
- Eat kidney beans, broccoli, chickpeas, Brussel sprouts, dark green leafy vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and poultry for your vitamin B.
- Citrus fruits, berries, cherries, white potatoes, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamin C.
- Aside from sunlight, fatty fishes, orange juice, oatmeal, cow’s milk, and soy milk are fortified with vitamin D.
- Consuming peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin, as well as sunflower, soybean & wheat germ oil will increase your vitamin E intake.
- Soybean & canola oil, dark green leafy veggies, natto, tuna, avocado, and cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamin K.
- You can get your calcium from cheese, yogurt, milk, edamame, winter squash, soybeans, salmon, and green leafy vegetables.
- Boost your iron intake by eating seafood, meats, poultry, nuts, grains, legumes, pumpkin seeds, spinach, liver and other organ meats.
- For magnesium, dark beans, almonds, chia seeds, wheat germ, whole grains, peanuts, soymilk, and leafy & dark green vegetables are of the highest sources.
- Fatty fishes such as salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, and cod are substantial sources of omega-3. For non-fish eaters, you can opt for omega-3 rich vegetables, fruits, and nuts like chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed & algae, spinach, cauliflower, avocado berries, and mango.
- Beet greens, potatoes, avocado, spinach, dried fruits, bananas, lentils, winter squash, and beans, and broccoli are significant sources of potassium.
- Shellfishes, dairy products, breakfast cereals, red meat, beef, lamb, blackberries, pomegranate, kale, mushroom, spinach, and broccoli, on the other hand, are rich in zinc.
However, even though you can buy these foods anywhere, and you can even get some of them for free (like fruits that fall from trees), there are days that you still struggle in supplying your body with the essential vitamins and minerals mentioned above.
If you easily catch common colds, experience difficulty in sleeping, have low energy levels, frequent muscle cramps, exhaustion, wounds that are slow to heal, deteriorated vision, bone pain, and hair loss, these symptoms may indicate nutrient deficiency.
Multivitamin supplements are mostly packed with whole foods, organic fruits and vegetables blend, as well as the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep you going. If you’re under medication, talk to your doctor first before taking multivitamins.
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