Vitamins and essential nutrients:
The human body requires many essential nutrients for its proper functioning and growth. Some can be synthesized by itself and the rest have to be taken externally through food. These nutrients taken externally are called vitamins. Vitamins are organic compounds and required in limited amounts. Our body also needs an ingestion of essential nutrients like minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.
Scientists have confirmed the need of at least 13 vitamins and nutrients by the human body. They are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1-Thiamine
- Vitamin B2-Riboflavin
- Vitamin B3-Niacin
- Vitamin B6-Pyriodoxine
- Vitamin B12-Cyanocobalamin
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Folic acid
- Pantothenic acid
Though each nutrient has a particular function in our body, and the deficiency of each causes a particular disease, the vitamins and other nutrients are known to help the following aspects of our body:
- Hair and Nail growth
- Muscular strength of our body
- Nervous system
Once a nutrient enters our body, it is used up in different ways by our enzymes. Vitamins are of two types: fat-soluble and water-soluble. While the water-soluble ones are constantly lost from our body through various excretions, the fat-soluble ones are stored in our body.
The need of vitamins and supplements:
The requirements of vitamins and nutrients are accomplished by a balanced diet. A balanced diet is when you include all food groups into the diet. This insures the intake of every nutrient by our body, and keeps the deficiency diseases caused by their absence at bay.
However, in most of the cases, we fail to achieve a balanced diet. It is then that the vitamins and supplements come into play. These are nutrients made artificially from natural or synthetic sources, and available in the form of chewable tablets, capsules and syrups. These vitamins and supplements fulfill the lack of nutrients caused by an improper diet. However, please consult a doctor or a dietician before you start taking vitamins and supplements, as excess dosage or a wrong choice can cause adverse effects.
People who need vitamins and supplements:
Though anyone with nutrient requirements need them, the following people should need them the most:
- Pregnant women- Their bodies have a great demand for vitamins during pregnancy. Also, the folic acids in them lower birth defects and risks.
- Elderly people- Their bodies can’t take in all types of food, hence their bodies lack in certain nutrients which are provided by these vitamins and supplements.
- Smokers, because certain vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin D find difficulties in entering their bodies due to their smoking habits. Supplements overcome these difficulties easily.
- People consuming diets with less than 1200 calories per day.
- Vegetarians can’t consume non-vegetarian food items rich in essential nutrients. Vitamins and supplements come to their rescue.
- People with health issues like loss of appetite and digestive problems.
- People recovering from fatal diseases and injuries.
- People who can’t consume a balanced diet owing to lack of time.
People who don’t need vitamins and supplements:
Certain vitamins and supplements are not suitable for all. For instance:
- Pregnant women should avoid Vitamin A to prevent birth defects and risks.
- Smokers should avoid antioxidants like beta carotene to lower health risks.
- People taking blood thinners should avoid Vitamin A and Vitamin K supplements.