Are the benefits of taking vitamins real or just the concoction of savvy marketing blitz? And do we really need to keep the entire alphabet vitamin on our shelves or just eat the right foods that contain vitamins?
Most doctors recommend that eating the right foods would be sufficient and taking vitamins and supplements should only serve our supplemental nutritional requirements, but then how many of us mortals eat right? How many of us have the time to look into every food item and assess it for vitamin content?
We live in an era of fast food, fast trains and quick fixes. Maybe cooking a nutritional meal is on our list of priority items, but realistically, how long can we keep at it, especially if there are children to chauffeur to school, our boss wants everything yesterday and is demanding that we put more overtime hours?
So what’s the next best solution? Vitamins of course! They’re not toxic if taken in moderation, and they do fill the nutrition gap for people who can’t bend over a hot stove for hours on end.
Before Talking about the Benefits of Vitamins… Some Facts for You!
Here are some vitamin factoids that are worth mulling over:
- Fact # 1: Vitamins are organic. They combine with human proteins to form enzymes. These enzymes, in turn, regulate most of our bodily functions.
- Fact # 2: Our bodies need these vitamins to function properly: A, B (8 kinds), C, D, E and K. That’s a total of 13 vitamins.
- Fact # 3: Vitamins D and K can be “manufactured” by the human body but only in limited quantities. Most of the vitamins we need will have to come from the foods we eat.
- Fact # 4: Taking a mouthful of vitamins cannot be a replacement for a healthy diet. Yes, there are benefits to taking vitamins, but don’t turn a deaf ear to potential problems.
- Fact # 5: People on a vegetarian diet probably don’t need to take vitamin supplements as long as they consume dairy, chicken and fish. People on a vegan diet however, may – emphasis on the “may” – suffer deficiencies of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B12, D, calcium and zinc. The principle is to have ample supply of amino acids in the body.
Here’s the thing: if vitamins weren’t good for you, the medical community and the Food and Drug watchdogs would have banned them from the shelves a long time ago. While they’re not a cure-all for certain serious diseases and should be considered only as diet “aids”, they have certainly earned praise for their benefits. Our father, for instance, swears by his bottle of Vitamin C capsules – ascorbic acid. He said that ever since he started taking them, he’s been able to ward off the flu. Plus his nose, he says, doesn’t run as much.
Looking at some benefits of vitamins – Benefits of Taking Vitamins
Vitamins are good supplements – people who habitually do not eat balanced meals or miss meals because of their hectic schedules and seniors with limited mobility should take vitamins daily to acquire more of the supplements their bodies lack. Vegetarians and vegans would also benefit from vitamin intake;
Folate for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers – folate is also known as the water-soluble vitamin B9, and is especially important during child-bearing years. Sufficient amounts of folate (and folic acid) help in the creation and maintenance of new cells, an activity that is at risk during pregnancy and infancy. DNA and RNA – our building blocks – need folate to develop without impediment. If you like dark green leafy vegetables and grains and consume them regularly, you probably don’t need to take the vitamin. But if you decide to become pregnant, vitamin B9 can certainly help!
Vitamins C, B3 and B1 help correct deficiencies – these are deficiencies that can trigger scurvy, pellagra and beriberi;
Vitamin C is recommended for people suffering from lactose intolerance – some people are unable to drink milk because of lactose intolerance or else suffer from milk allergies. Vitamin C helps them overcome any calcium deficiencies;
Pre-menstrual syndrome – many women who experience PMS see the benefits of taking vitamins. Although this will be refuted by some doctors, one American study did establish a meaningful relationship between calcium carbonate and a decrease in pre-menstrual symptoms.
Which Foods are Rich in Vitamins?
If you’re the type who hates to go to the market in search of fresh produce, then the benefits of taking vitamins become more pronounced in your situation. People generally look at vitamins as one of God’s gifts to mankind, but many don’t know which foods provide certain vitamins. Oh sure, we’ve read a ton of literature about vitamins and how and where we get them, but we tend to forget due to our daily preoccupations.
A quick rundown -
- Vitamin A - egg yolks, kidney, cheese, liver
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - pasta, cereals, fortified breads, fish, dried beans, nuts, peas
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - eggs, yogurt, legumes, nuts
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) - lean meats, grains, eggs, fish, nuts
- Vitamin B6 - poultry, liver, pork, nuts, fish
- Vitamin C - citrus fruits, broccoli, melon, tomatoes, kiwi
- Vitamin D - milk, butter, oysters, cheese and your favorite – the sun!
- Vitamin E - margarine, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, wheat germ
Indeed there are Benefits of Taking Vitamins … But Be Careful!
We tend to repeat ourselves but better to be safe than sorry: do NOT make it a habit of skipping a balanced and nutritious meal just because you have a year’s supply of multi-vitamins. Try not to depend on vitamins to supply your nutritional requirements.
Some reports have been cited wherein people overdosed on vitamins and had high toxic levels. Vitamins are not wonder drugs, nor do they have curative qualities. They help prevent deficiencies and are good meal supplements but they won’t perform a 21st century miracle for you, no matter how advanced our research is on the subject. Also, people who take vitamins regularly think they need not see a doctor or have an annual physical exam. Don’t short-change yourself to health! And don’t get into the habit of irresponsible eating.
If vitamins are part of your shopping list, be aware that generic brands are not inferior to brand name vitamins. They simply cost less because not much advertising goes into marketing them. Develop a balanced intake of vitamins, don’t just focus on C or B6 unless your doctor says so.
If you’re prone to infections, engage in vigorous physical work, are in daily contact with the sick or are a senior with restricted mobility, speak to your doctor about taking vitamins. For these types of people, the benefits of taking vitamins far outweigh the risks.