Why Vitamins Are Important To Your Health

December 04, 2020 8 min read

Why Vitamins Are Important To Your Health

We know many of you are reading this because you’re looking to optimize your health and improve longevity.

Whether you are already living a healthy lifestyle, working on maximizing performance, or are just getting started, you have probably heard how important your dietary intake is to overall health - including vitamins and minerals to ensure we aren’t deficient in key nutrients.

‘Clean’ eating isn’t just about calories and macronutrients. Whether your goals are to improve your body composition, increase your performance in the gym or just optimizing health - you also need to consider the proper intake of micronutrients, otherwise referred to as vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are needed for a healthy immune system, strong bones, metabolism, hormone production, and protecting cells from other forms of damage.

Vitamins and minerals differ in many ways. Vitamins are organic compounds, because they contain carbon, and can be broken down by heat, air or acid. While minerals are inorganic and therefore are able to hold their chemical structure. Vitamins are needed to sustain life because the human body either does not produce enough of them, or any at all, depending on the type of vitamin. 

So why is it important to understand the difference of vitamins versus minerals? Minerals that are found in soil and water can easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume. However, it is harder to get vitamins from food and other sources because cooking, storage, and simple exposure to air can inactivate these more fragile compounds. (source)

Some vitamins are easier to synthesize than others depending upon how our body utilizes them. For example, the body synthesizes Vitamin D from sunlight, so it is important to get daily sunlight. However, in certain seasons such as the winter months or in areas where there is minimal sunlight, you may need to supplement with a high quality Vitamin D because it is not available in large enough quantities from food alone. Conversely, there are other vitamins such as Vitamin C that we need to supplement with, or incorporate foods that contain Vitamin C, because we do not produce or synthesize vitamin C naturally.

It is also important to know that vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble.

The difference between the two is that fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fatty tissue and our liver. Therefore, fat-soluble vitamins can stay in the body as reserves for days, sometimes longer. They are absorbed in our intestinal tract with the help of fats, and this is why Vitamins A, D, E, and K should be consumed with a small amount of fat for optimal absorption. 

On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins need to be replenished frequently as they cannot be stored in the body and they are excreted in urine. Water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and all B vitamins. 

Let's review why each vitamin is important to the body and the roles they play in our health.

Fat-soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.

There are two different types of vitamin A. The first type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. The second type, provitamin A, is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. (source)

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. The best source of Vitamin D is found in sunlight, as previously mentioned, as the body is able to synthesize it. However in the winter months, you may want to incorporate a Vitamin D supplement to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, red meat, liver, eggs, fortified milk and cereals. (source

Our Vitamin D is high potency, 5000IU per capsule, and is clean and sustainably sourced with no artificial ingredients or fillers. One of the biggest benefits of Vitamin D is supporting calcium and nutrient absorption.

Vitamin E is important for boosting the immune system and fighting off bacteria and viruses. It acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

The best food sources of Vitamin E include wheat germ, safflower and sunflower oil, nuts, especially almonds, and seeds like sunflower seeds, and green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. (source)

Vitamin K supports healthy bones and can prevent blood clots and support wound healing. Vitamin K also acts synergistically with Vitamin D to supportbone and cardiovascular health. Animal and human studies suggest that optimal concentrations of both vitamin D and vitamin K are beneficial for bone and cardiovascular health as supported by genetic, molecular, cellular, and human studies. (source) 

The best food sources of Vitamin K are dark green leafy vegetables, cereal, organ meats, dairy products, and eggs.

Water-soluble Vitamins

Vitamin Calso known as L-ascorbic acid, is popular for its ability to help prevent illness and its function as an antioxidant. It has also been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including alpha-tocopherol, Vitamin E. Additionally, it is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters; vitamin C is also involved in protein metabolism. (source

Humans, unlike most animals, are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously, so it is an essential dietary component and needs to be consumed frequently. (source) We have included high potency Vitamin C in our Hydrate to support your immune system and help you maintain adequate levels in the body since we typically do not get enough Vitamin C from food alone.  

Vitamin C can be found in certain foods, and is added to other foods. Natural foods that contain high doses of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato juices and potatoes. Other foods that contain Vitamin C include red and green peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe. 

B Vitamins - you may be familiar with the popular B Vitamins such as B6 and B12, but did you know there are actually eight B vitamins?

Vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamin, plays a vital role in the growth and function of various cells. (source) B1 is involved in several basic cell functions and the breakdown of nutrients for energy, specifically the carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. B1 is stored in small amounts in the liver, but again is water soluble so a daily intake of thiamin-rich foods is recommended.

Thiamin is found naturally in pork, fish, beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, peas, and whole grains. It is also added to certain breads, cereals, and baby formulas. (source)

Vitamin B2, otherwise known as Riboflavin, is a key component of aerobic metabolism and is involved with the growth of cells, energy production, and the breakdown of fats, steroids, and medications. (source) If you have ever taken a B complex and noticed your urine turning bright yellow, this is an excess of Vitamin B2, as it is immediately used and not able to be stored in the body so the rest is excreted through urine.

Vitamin B2 can be found in dairy products, liver meats, lean beef and pork, salmon, spinach, almonds, eggs, and fortified cereals. 

Vitamin B3, or Niacin, acts as a coenzyme to more than 400 enzymes dependent on it for various reactions. Niacin helps to convert nutrients into energy, create cholesterol and fats, create and repair DNA, and exert antioxidant effects. (source)

The good news is B3 is found in many animal and plant based foods, so a Vitamin B3 deficiency is very rare. Foods that contain niacin include red meats, poultry, fish, brown rice, bananas, seeds, legumes, peanuts, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B4, known as pantothenic acid, is used to make coenzyme A (CoA), a chemical compound that helps enzymes to build and break down fatty acids as well as perform other metabolic functions, and acyl carrier protein, which is also involved in building fats. (source

Because of its ability to support the breakdown of fatty acids, pantothenic acid has been shown to have a potential role in reducing cholesterol levels in people who have abnormal cholesterol levels and other lipids (fat in the blood) because of its ability to support the breakdown of fatty acids. Without adequate CoA, the body is not able to break down fats and clear them out of the blood.

Foods that have pantothenic acid include animal meats (beef, chicken and liver meats), avocados, brown rice, oats,egg yolks, mushrooms, broccoli, nuts, seeds, and potatoes.

Vitamin B6, a well known B vitamin also known aspyridoxine, is an important nutrient as it acts as a coenzyme that assists more than 100 enzymes in the body. Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (PLP) is the active coenzyme form and most common measure of B6 blood levels in the body.

The primary functions of PLP include supporting the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; maintaining normal levels of homocysteine (since high levels can cause heart problems); and supporting immune function and brain health. (source)

B6 can be found in animal and plant based foods such as beef, liver, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, bananas, payapas, cantaloupe, and oranges.

Vitamin B7, known as biotin. Biotin plays a key role in metabolizing protein, carbs and fats, and helps breakdown leucine, an essential amino acid. Biotin is pretty popular as a treatment for hair loss and supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails. Although a deficiency of biotin can certainly lead to hair loss and skin or nail problems, evidence showing a benefit of supplementation is inconclusive. (source)

Biotin can be found in cooked eggs, beef liver, salmon, avocados, pork, sweet potatoes, soybeans, and legumes.

Vitamin B9, popularly known as folate. Folate is very important especially for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive as it is needed to produce healthy blood cells which is critical during periods of rapid growth and fetal development as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects

Folate helps to form DNA and RNA and is also involved in protein metabolism. It also plays an important role in breaking down homocysteine that can exert harmful effects in the body if it is present in high amounts. (source)

We highly recommend folate rather than folic acid (synthetic version of folate), so watch out for that on labels of certain supplements. Foods that contain folate include dark leafy veggies, beans, nuts, fruit, liver meats, seafood, eggs, as well as fortified breads, cereals, and whole grains.

Vitamin B12, last but not least! The well known Vitamin B12, also known ascobalamin binds to the protein we eat and plays a role in the formation of key molecules that transport oxygen to our cells. 

In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes unbind vitamin B12 into its free form. From there, vitamin B12 combines with a protein called intrinsic factor so that it can be absorbed further down in the small intestine. Some medications and low stomach acid as stomach acid is needed to liberate vitamin B12 from food. (source

B12 deficiency has been linked to fatigue, depression, anemia - both Pernicious anemia and Megaloblastic anemia, as well as seizures, memory loss, dementia and nerve damage. If you have any of these symptoms the best thing to do is talk with your doctor and have blood work drawn to determine if there is a B12 deficiency. 

Foods that contain B12 include shellfish, dairy products, liver, red meats, eggs, poultry, nutritional yeast, enriched soy products, and fortified cereals.

As you can see, B vitamins are most commonly found in animal products so if you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet with minimal animal products you may want to consider supplementing with B vitamins. You should consult with your doctor on the dosages and have blood work drawn to see how much of each you may need.

 

 


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