If you've ever read a nutrition label, you've encountered the letter vitamins before. While you may know what some of them do, are you familiar with all of them?
Knowing how vitamins can be beneficial to your health will make you more likely to include them in your daily routine. Vitamins support various tissues and systems in the body to maintain proper function. They work as antioxidants, protecting the cells from the damage of free radicals that can cause aging and decreased immunity.
Here are the letter vitamins you need to make a part of your daily nutrition plan, how they each play a role in your health and the recommended intake, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
This vitamin is water soluble and particularly beneficial to the tissues of the body as well as the mucous membranes. The hair and skin benefit from a healthy daily dose of vitamin A, which has been used to strengthen weak hair, smooth wrinkles and clear acne. When it comes to your eyes, vitamin A helps maintain proper vision and eye health and is especially useful for vision at night. You can find vitamin A in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, often as beta carotene. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adult males is 900 mcg and 700 mcg for females.
There isn't just one vitamin B. In fact, there are eight vitamins that make up the B-complex category of water-soluble vitamins. The B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid and cobalamin (B12). The B vitamins are known primarily for helping to boost energy (mainly proven in those with a B vitamin deficiency), but they also assist the body in amino acid metabolism, cell division, wound healing and more. The amount the body needs of each varies, but if you're taking a complete multivitamin, you should be all set.
This vitamin is one of the most powerful antioxidants and one of the most important to take daily. Also referred to as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is water soluble and found in fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits. Vitamin C is mainly credited with protecting the body from free radicals, boosting the immune system and helping the body produce collagen for proper wound healing. Adult males should aim for 90 mg a day while adult women need about 75 mg daily for optimal results. Although rare, vitamin C deficiency, known as scurvy, can occur but can usually be remedied in about a week with extra vitamin C.
You most likely have seen vitamin D paired up with calcium, which helps facilitate calcium absorption to protect bones. However, vitamin D, a fat-soluble nutrient, has been getting considerable attention lately for its ability to help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent certain forms of cancer (research is ongoing). Vitamin D can be obtained from direct sunlight exposure as well as fatty fish like salmon, dairy products and other foods fortified with vitamin D. The RDA for adult men and women is 600 IU until age 71, when 800 IU is required. Anyone with limited exposure to sunlight or a restricted diet can be at risk for deficiency.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body, protecting you from illness and infection. In addition to supporting a strong immune system, vitamin E maintains the structure and elasticity of the blood vessels to prevent clotting and buildup. Vitamin E also supports healthy tissues and is commonly found in topical lotions and creams. Adult men and women should have about 15 mg or 22.4 IU of vitamin E on a daily basis. You can find vitamin E in vegetable oils, seeds, nuts and green vegetables.
Another fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, which prevents us from losing too much blood from injury or surgery. Vitamin K can also be beneficial to the elderly for bone health, although research continues regarding this link. Adults should consume an average of 65 to 80 mcg of vitamin K daily. Leafy green vegetables are the best food sources of vitamin K, including spinach and kale. Vitamin K deficiencies are very rare and can lead to bleeding disorders. If you find yourself bruising or bleeding easily, you should consider adding more vitamin K to your diet.
The easiest way to make sure you're getting the correct amount of each vitamin is to look for a multivitamin with 100 percent of the RDA for as many of them as possible. Eating a balanced diet, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables will also get you what you need and is the best way to eat, hands down. Lastly, your physician can let you know if you have a deficiency in any of these vitamins and supplements are available to correct any imbalances.
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Statements made about specific vitamins, supplements, procedures or other items sold on or through this website have not been evaluated by eVitamins or by the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. As always, please consult with a licensed doctor or physician before starting any diet, exercise or supplement program, before taking any vitamin or medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a problem.