Why are Vitamins Important to your Body?
Vitamins don’t provide energy, like carbohydrates, proteins and fats, but they are essential compounds that help the body grow and function optimally. Thirteen essential vitamins help boost your immunity, strengthen your bones, heal wounds, bolster your eyesight and assist you in obtaining energy from food — among multiple other functions. Without adequate vitamin intake, you may feel lethargic, be vulnerable to infection and develop other serious complications that can endanger your health and life. Vitamins allow your body to grow and develop. They also play important roles in bodily functions such as metabolism, immunity and digestion. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K and B vitamins such as riboflavin and folate.
Types of Vitamins
Vitamins are classified as fat-soluble or water-soluble, referring to where they are stored in the body. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K and are stored for up to six months in your various fat stores. Water-soluble vitamins circulate through your blood and include the B vitamins — namely B-6, B-12, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin and folate — and vitamin C. Your body doesn’t store water-soluble vitamins, so you must replenish them regularly.
Each of the 13 vitamins has a specific function, but they also work together to facilitate optimal health. Vitamin A supports healthy eyesight, immune function, skin, bones and teeth. You need vitamin C to support absorption of the mineral iron and also to provide immune protection and encourage healthy tissue development. Vitamin D, along with the mineral calcium, boosts bone health as well as a solid body defense system. Vitamin E facilitates your body’s use of vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting and bone health, as well as promotes the formation of essential red blood cells. The eight B vitamins support a healthy metabolism, brain function, hormone production, regular heart operations, functioning of the central nervous system and cell duties.
Inadequate vitamin intake risks your health, as you’ll be more vulnerable to heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to permanent nerve damage and anemia. Get too little vitamin C and your body can’t produce collagen, the primary tissue in the body. In severe cases of vitamin C deficiency, people develop scurvy, characterized by muscle and joint pain, fatigue, spongy and swollen gums and red spots on the skin. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children, which manifests as bone pain, deformations and poor growth and may contribute to poor bone health in adults as well as high blood pressure, some cancers and autoimmune diseases.
A diet rich in a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, fortified dairy, whole grains, dried beans and lentils, and lean meat and fish helps you get all the vitamins you need. Whole foods, rather than a supplement, provide an optimal synergy of compounds that your body absorbs and uses. If you’re unsure if you’re getting an adequate amount of vitamins, consult with your doctor. Overdosing on vitamins through supplements can be dangerous
Why do we need Supplements?
A supplement will often have vitamins in it, but will also likely contain a variety of minerals, enzymes, amino acids or even herbs. Supplements tend to be more complex formulations, which are designed to meet the needs of particular ailments or nutritional deficiencies.
We can supplement our diets with vitamins alone, or, as most of us do, we can supplement our diet with vitamins and the other biological needs our body has.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have when visiting a Natural Health Practitioner is that they will only get one or two “medicines.” Their other mistaken belief: They might only need these “medicines” for a month or two to get over whatever serious symptoms that brought them to me.
Those are the misconceptions. Here are the facts.
By the time new patients talk for the first time, they have allowed their bodies to get to such a state they are now experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Generally, it’s taken years for their bodies to reach this breaking point. It’s also important to understand that it’s going to take many months, if not years, to help get them out of it.
Natural and herbal supplements can help to restore the body to a place of balance. But, it’s probably going to take more than one thing, or even two. In fact, it might take between 5-10 supplements to restore your health. If there is a “serious” health issue on the table, it will take much more time and effort than that.
Most people who aren’t in a health crisis wonder why they need to take a supplement. “I feel fine. Why would I need to take anything?” Here are the top reasons why it is important for everyone to take natural, whole food supplements:
1. Depleted Soils. Even if you eat a healthy, predominantly plant-based diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, chances are good (unless you’re consuming everything organic) the food comes from soils that have insufficient mineral content. When foods are grown over and over again in the same soils, the mineral content of that soil becomes depleted over time. This is ANOTHER reason why it is so vitally important to consume organic foods as much as possible. Organic farming practices include “crop rotating” so that soil depletion does not occur. Unfortunately, even buying organic doesn’t always mean you’re going to get superior foods. Although organic soil can get depleted, buying organic remains the better, healthier choice for you and the planet!
2. Long Transit Time for Delivery. Have you noticed an increasing amount of produce finding its way to your grocery store comes from other countries? If you think your favorite mango or pineapple (from Hawaii or the Philippines) was just cut at its peak ripeness, then immediately boxed, rushed to the airport and shipped overnight to your favorite grocery store, you’re sadly mistaken. Sometimes, foods are picked weeks and even MONTHS before we see it on our shelves. So much for obtaining the maximum amount of nutrition! I always suggest that my clients buy as much of their food as possible from local growers to reduce transit time and improve the nutritional value of the food they’re eating.
3. Overcooking Our Foods. Americans have a bad habit of cooking our food “to death,” resulting in a massive loss of nutritional value, meaning far fewer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes to go around. What’s more, eating these depleted foods over time creates its own set of health problems. Cooking does “kill” the food, resulting in lost nutrition. As far as fruits and vegetables, consuming them in as close to a raw (uncooked) state as possible is always the best way.
4. Not Eating Regular Meals. So many people skip meals. Grabbing a bagel or doughnut while slamming down some coffee and rushing to work does NOT constitute a meal. Making up for it later in the day at an “all-you-can-eat” buffet is not in the best interest of our bodies either, as it puts much undue stress on the digestive system and will eventually cause a lot of uncomfortable symptoms.
5. Normal Aging = Digestion Issues. As we age, our bodies produce fewer enzymes, including all the important ones needed to properly digest and assimilate the foods we eat. Eventually, this results in “common” stomach complaints, like reflux, heartburn, upset stomach and chronic constipation.
6. Stress + Stress, + Stress = Compromised Immune System. No question, we all lead busy lives and some of us are busier than others! Between commitments to your family, school, work, community, faith and other obligations, our lives are stressed to the max! All of this stress takes a toll on your body and weakens your immune system. Taking supplements can help to bridge that gap and give your body some of the nutrition it needs to function optimally.
Of course, nothing will take the place of eating a good and healthy diet. But taking quality, whole food-based natural supplements can go along way towards helping you maintain a better level of health. Besides, if you’re still working through some bad habits (skipping meals and not eating organic foods), you need them even more!
Whole food supplements are exactly as the name describes them. Derived from whole foods, which research has proven to be beneficial to the human body, whole food supplements deliver high doses of vitamins and minerals. A popular example of this is phytoplankton supplements derived from marine algae, which most of us would never eat, but has been proven to dramatically increase well-being in the body. It’s all food for thought!