A Guide to Vitamins: Supplements, Nutrition, Sources

Monday, 18 Jul 2011 05:08 PM

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Everyone knows that vitamins keep you healthy and are essential for your nutritional needs, but do you know which vitamins do what? This comprehensive guide can tell you all you need to know about the vitamins and supplements that you are already taking and help you figure out which ones to add to your daily regimen to get the greatest benefit of vitamins and supplements.
 
You can get your vitamins and supplements in a wide variety of foods or purchase them in pill form. One of the benefits of taking multivitamins, which contain a combination of compatible vitamins and minerals, is that they are an easy way to keep healthy and active, while maintaing your nutritional needs.
 
Vitamin A:

What Is Vitamin A?
This organic compound often found in vitamins and supplements. The benefits of vitamin A include keeping teeth, tissue, membranes, and skin healthy. It is especially important for good eyesight, and studies have indicated that vitamin A is crucial for breastfeeding mothers. This vitamin is essential for overall nutrion. There are two types of vitamin A: retinol vitamin A and carotenoids. Both are equally beneficial.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin A:  Retinol vitamin A is found in foods that are high in saturated fat, so many people unintentionally avoid natural sources of vitamin A. Foods like meat, cheese, eggs, cream, liver, and fish oils contain high levels of vitamin A. Carotenoids are plentiful in orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables as well as dark, leafy greens. The best sources of vitamin A carotenoids are carrots, broccoli, spinach, pumpkin and squash, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. Fortunately, vitamin A can be found in supplements.
 
Over-the-counter Vitamin A Supplements: A variety of vitamin A supplements are available at stores such as The Vitamin Shoppe and GNC. Multi-vitamin supplements such as Centrum also contain vitamin A.

Vitamin B1:
What Is Vitamin B1(Thiamin)?
Thiamin is a water-soluble vitamin. The benefits of vitamin B1 include its ability to convert sugar into energy, rid the body of toxins, and improve heart, muscles, and nervous system function. Vitamin B1 ensures smooth functioning of the brain and helps improve memory and concentration, and also may help ensure eye health and prevent cataracts.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 is found in many natural forms of nutrition including meats, soybeans, peanuts, and dried beans. Other natural sources of B1 include whole and enriched breads, grains and cereals. 
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin B1: GNC offers a wide range of vitamin B supplements for your nutrition needs. A One-A-Day or Centrum supplement will also give your body the vitamin B1 it needs to stay healthy.

Vitamin B2:

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
The benefits of vitamin B2, or riboflavin, include its contribution to overall good health and nutrition, normal growth, and metabolism. B2 helps break down fat, proteins, and carbohydrates into smaller particles that are burned to obtain energy. Vitamin B2 aids in the production of red blood cells and protects the nervous system. It helps reduce tingling and numbness, anxiety, stress, and fatigue, in addition to strengthening the immune system. Vitamin B also helps combat migraines, benefits body growth and can soothe skin conditions such as dry and itchy skin, acne, dermatitis and eczema.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin B2: B2 is present in meat, cheese, eggs, milk, leafy greens, fish, legumes, and yogurt. Most whole grains, soy beans, almonds, nuts, mushrooms, and grains are good sources of vitamin B2. Many "ready to eat" food products like bread and cereals are fortified with B2.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin B2: Vitamin B2 supplements can be found at all health food and supplement outlets, such as GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, and Kirkland Vitamin. Over-the-counter multi-vitamins usually contain Vitamin B2.
 
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

What is Vitamin B3?

The benefits of vitamin B3, or niacin, include its ability to reduce cholesterol and fatty substances in the blood. B3 is used to treat hardened arteries, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. In addition, niacin helps prevent and treat pellagra, a niacin deficiency, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, cataracts, and type-1 diabetes, while promoting better nutrition.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin B3: The best natural sources of vitamin B3 are beets, liver, kidney, fish, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Niacin is also usually added to breads and cereals. Tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to niacin, is found in poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin B3: Niacin supplements can be found at any store that sells vitamins. The Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and Kirkland all sell B3 supplements, and vitamin B3 is also contained in popular multi-vitamins that promote better nutrition.

Vitamin B5

What Is Vitamin B5?
The benefits of vitamin B5 include helping break down carbohydrates into fuel for your body. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is very important for red blood cell and hormone production. B5 is sometimes called the “anti-stress” vitamin because of its calming effects on the hormone-producing adrenal glands. It may also soothe rheumatoid arthritis. When combined with vitamin C, vitamin B5 can speed the healing of wounds. B5 can prevent acne and hair loss. The role of vitamin B5 has been well recognized by cosmetologists and it has been widely used in beauty treatments.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5 is found in abundance in organ meats, rice, wheat bran, alfalfa, milk, eggs, beans, broccoli, and whole grains.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5 can be purchased by itself or in a multi-vitamin and is a great vitamin for your nutrition needs.

Vitamin B6

What Is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is a member of the B vitamin family. The benefits of vitamin B6 include helping the human body make chemicals called neurotransmitters that send signals from one nerve cell to another. The benefits of vitamin B6 also include helping the body to secrete norepinephrine and melatonin. Norepinephrine affects the mood and melatonin regulates the body clock. In addition, vitamin B6 helps in the normal development of the brain and allows it to function properly. Vitamin B6 also helps in the production of red and white blood cells.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin B6: Natural sources of vitamin B6 include milk, cheese, spinach, bran, salmon, turkey, chicken, sunflower seeds, whole-grain flour, wheat germ, beans and lentils. All of these food sources are all beneficial for your overall nutrition.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 can be taken by itself, but is present in multivitamins such as Centrum Silver, Centrum Cardio, and One-A- Day supplements.
 
Vitamin B12

What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. The benefits of vitamin B12 include keeping your nerves and red blood cells healthy. Vitamin B12 is also necessary for the formation of DNA. Vitamin B12 can reduce depression, stress, and brain shrinkage, and works to keep skin, hair, and nails in good shape. This essential vitamin also helps digestive function, and can even fight cancers in the breast, colon, lungs, and prostate.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin B12: The body stores several years’ worth of B12 at all times, so deficiency is rare, but elderly people are the most at risk of running low on B12. Low levels of this vitamin can cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system, so it is important for older folks to eat plenty of B12-rich foods. Natural sources include fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, and dairy, which are all good sources of nutrition.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin B12: Redoxen, which is made by Bayer, is an excellent over-the-counter supplement of Vitamin B12. Other B12 supplements can be found at GNC , The Vitamin Shoppe and similar outlets. Vitamin B12 is added to Centrum Silver and some other multi-vitamins and supplements.

Biotin

What Is Biotin?
Biotin is a type of B vitamin. The benefits of biotin include its contribution to cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolizing fats and amino acids, and transferring carbon dioxide through the body. Biotin is recommended for strengthening hair and nails and maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.
 
Natural Sources of Biotin: Natural sources of biotin include such biotin-rich foods and sources of nutrition such as raw egg yolks, liver, vegetables, and peanuts.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Biotin: A wide variety of over-the-counter biotin supplements are available. Companies such as Spring Valley, Sundown, and GNC sell biotin in capsule form. Biotin is also contained in Appearex’s hair, skin, and nail-strengthening vitamins and supplements.


Folic Acid

What Is Folic Acid?
Also known as vitamin B9 and folate, folic acid is a naturally occurring, water-soluble, B vitamin. The benefits of folic acid include its ability to produce and maintain new cells. Folic acid prevents anemia. In addition, folic acid is needed to make and repair DNA, and it helps rapid cell division during pregnancy and infancy. Some potential  benefits of folate include normal fetal development, improved heart health, reduced depression, and proper brain function. Pregnant women often take folic acid supplements for better nutrition.
 
Natural Sources of Folic Acid: Leafy vegetables are the main natural nutrition source of dietary folic acid, but folic acid can also be found in fortified breads and cereals, legumes, liver and kidney, sunflower seeds, strawberries, bananas, oranges and tomatoes.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Folic Acid: Over-the-counter folic acid supplements ensure proper levels of the vitamin even if dietary intake is insufficient. Folic acid supplements include Nature Made Folic Acid with DHA and GNC Folic Acid. Centrum Cardio and other multi-vitamins contain folic acid in their supplements.

 
Vitamin C

What Is Vitamin C?
Thought by some to be a virtual panacea for all bodily ailments, vitamin C is essential for the normal functioning of the body. The benefits of vitamin C also include its ability to encourage collagen production, speed the healing of wounds and broken bones, treat allergies and the common cold, neutralize stress , control infections, help to form new tissues and blood vessels, and fight conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammatory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Vitamin C  is also used to treat Parkinson’s disease, preeclampsia in pregnant women, bad breath and gingivitis.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin C: Cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, parsley, cilantro, peppers, and berries and, of course, oranges are great natural nutrition sources of Vitamin C.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin C: Vitamin C supplements are available in pill, powder, and tablet form. All major vitamin companies offer vitamin C. Centrum, One-A-Day, and other multivitamins contain vitamin C to support the immune system and fight toxins while providing nutritional benefits.
 
Side Effects of Vitamin C: Too much vitamin C may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, esophageal irritation, heartburn or indigestion, fatigue, flushing, headaches, insomnia, diarrhea, and drowsiness.


Vitamin D

What Is Vitamin D?
The benefits of vitamin D include its crucial role in maintaining strong bones and boosting immunity. Vitamin D benefits health and nutrition by regulating calcium levels in the blood, stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving kidney function, and preventing high blood pressure. It can also strengthen teeth, lower the incidence of respiratory infections, and decrease the stress and anxiety linked to depression.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin D: Sunlight is the principal natural source of vitamin D, but fish, mushrooms, cheese and eggs are also good nutritional sources of Vitamin D.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin D: Vitamin stores such as The Vitamin Shoppe and GNC carry vitamin D supplements. Multivitamins such as One-A-Day and Centrum combine vitamin D with other vitamins and minerals for strong bones, muscles, and nerves.
 
Side Effects of Vitamin D: If levels of vitamin D in the body are too high, side effects could include nausea and vomiting, irritability, frequent need to urinate, constipation, dehydration, bone pain, sore eyes, muscle problems, anorexia, and fatigue.
 
Vitamin E

What Is Vitamin E?
The benefits of vitamin E include its antioxidant properties. Vitamin E protects the body from damage caused by unstable substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs.Vitamin E is used to improve immune system and cardiovascular function, and prevent blood clots while promoting overall nutrition. Vitamin E also possesses anti-inflammatory qualities, and a few studies have found that it helps relieve menstrual pain. Vitamin E supplements may help reduce PMS symptoms, including anxiety, food cravings and depression.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin E: Natural nutritional sources that are rich in vitamin E include wheat germ and sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, nuts and nut oils, green, leafy vegetables, pumpkin, sweet potato, olives, rockfish, blue crab, asparagus, papaya, spinach, broccoli, soybean oil, kiwi, mango, and tomatoes.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin E: Vitamin E supplements are widely available, and vitamin E appears in multivitamins such as Centrum. Vitamin E is also available in skin-cream form.
 
Side Effects of Vitamin E: If Vitamin E is taken in too high of a dose, a person may experience nausea, diarrhea, intestinal cramping, fatigue and weakness, headaches, blurred vision, unusual bleeding or bruising, gastrointestinal bleeding, stroke, or allergic reaction to vitamin E on the skin.
 
Vitamin K:

What Is
Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin with many crucial functions. The benefits of vitamin K include its maintenance of the cardiovascular system, promotion of growth and development of bones, and aiding in  blood clotting. Vitamin K is essential in bone and blood vessel health because it works to keep calcium in the bones and out of the body’s vessels where it can block the flow of blood. Good digestion is maintained with the help of vitamin K. Cystic fibrosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other medical conditions have a common underlying link to a deficiency of vitamin K. Vitamin K is also used in a wide array of creams because it helps treat dark circles and skin disorders such as hyperpigmentation.
 
Natural Sources of Vitamin K: Dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and swiss chard, and fruits like avocado, kiwi, and grapes are the best natural, nutritional sources of vitamin K.
 
Over-the-counter Supplements of Vitamin K: Vitamin K supplements are available in pill form at GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe and other retail outlets.
 
Side Effects of Vitamin K: Taking too much vitamin K is a very bad idea. As this vitamin belongs to the category of fat-soluble vitamins, the body cannot get rid of it as easily as water-soluble vitamins like vitamins B and C. An excess of vitamin K may cause anemia and other health problems because the vitamin is responsible for triggering clotting factors in the blood. Jaundice is another condition developed due to too much vitamin K. Often, an excess intake of synthetic vitamin K or K3 triggers this disease.
 
Talk to your doctor before beginning any new vitamin supplement regimen.
 
To read more about these vitamins, visit:



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