Vitamins are vital for a healthy lifestyle, but you probably already know that. In a perfect world, you would already be getting all of your required daily nutrients from your diet of healthy fruits, vegetables and low-fat meats. However, this isn’t a perfect world – and chances are you probably don’t get as much as your body needs. Of course, there will always be articles left and right about the good and bad of every single topic known to mankind – and then some. The truth is, it’s probably more beneficial to take a multi-vitamin than to not take one. While there are horror stories of overdosing on vitamins out there, their situations are incredibly rare – one person in several, several thousand. While rare, it is still possible and you should always talk things over with your health provider prior to beginning any new daily supplements with your specific diet.
What are the Differences between a Water-Soluble Vitamin and a Fat-Soluble Vitamin?
Water-soluble vitamins are easier for your body to eliminate. Whatever your body doesn’t use, it will get rid of almost instantly through your bowel movements. On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins are more difficult to get rid of. Fat-soluble vitamins can build up in your lipids (fats) and cause many different illnesses and diseases based on what vitamin you’ve had too much of.
Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A, D, E, and K while water-soluble vitamins include the family of B vitamins, as well as vitamin C.
Choosing a Multi-Vitamin that’s Right for You
While it’s best to talk to your doctor for advice on what multi-vitamin to take with your specific diet, in these economic times – that’s not always possible.
When starting a multi-vitamin regiment, it’s best to try and find one that’s as close to the RDA (recommended daily allowance,) as possible. It may even be beneficial to shoot for a little below the RDA recommendations because in today’s society, so many foods are now fortified (milk, cereals, canned foods.) While this is good for your health, it is also possible to overload your body with vitamins.
If choosing a multi-vitamin on your own, your best bet is to stop and take a look at your diet first. Do you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables? If so, you may not need a multi-vitamin with a large dose of vitamin C.
What Foods Contain What Vitamins?
This list will give you a better idea of what to look for:
Vitamin B1, or thiamin, is found in brown rice, asparagus, cauliflower, oranges, whole grain flour, potatoes, pork, eggs and yeast. This vitamin helps your body convert blood sugar into energy. This vitamin is also commonly found in fortified cereals.
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin is found in dairy products like milk and cheese, as well as broccoli spinach and asparagus. It works together with the other B vitamins to help convert sugar into energy.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is found in tuna, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms and again, fortified breakfast cereals. Not only does it help convert sugar into energy, but it’s also helping keep your skin healthy.
Vitamin B6 is found in watermelon, bananas, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli. This vitamin converts fat and protein into energy, as well as contributing to making red blood cells.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is found in many vegetables including broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, beans and asparagus; as well as fortified breakfast foods. It helps your body create new cells and has been shown to prevent heart disease.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and poultry. This vitamin is helping your body produce new cells.
Vitamin C is among the most well-known of vitamins, and it can be found in citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, and oranges, as well as strawberries, kiwi, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peppers and spinach. This vitamin protects your body’s cells from damage, and has been rumored to help with heart disease and preventing cancer.
Vitamin A foods include liver (from both beef and pork,) fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna) milk, butter, eggs and carrots. This vitamin is particularly good for your skin, as well as your eyesight.
Vitamin D is found most commonly in milk, egg yolks, liver, and butter. Thanks to a milk-fortification program, you can get half of your RDA of vitamin D through a single glass of milk. Vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones.
Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds, spinach, other various nuts, and of course – peanut butter. Often called the ‘anti-aging vitamin,’ this little guy keeps your heart healthy, protects you from pollution damage (in your lungs) and has been rumored to help protect you against cancer.
Vitamin K is found in eggs, various meats, spinach, lettuce, cabbage and milk. It’s absolutely essential for helping your blood clot when you get little cuts and scrapes, however your body makes vitamin K in your intestines, but there’s no problem in helping it along.
Pregnancy and Multi-Vitamins
If pregnant, you should always consult your doctor before beginning a multi-vitamin regiment. While some vitamins are beneficial to your growing baby’s health and development, taking too much of specific vitamins (such as vitamin C, which has been debated as a cause for miscarriage) can be harmful, or even fatal to your baby. It is best to talk with your OB/GYN or other health professional at your next visit.
Keep in mind that it’s important to monitor your vitamin intake, just as with anything it is always possible to get too much of a good thing. There are food companies all across the United States that are “fortifying” their foods, and it may or may not say right on the front of the package. Check the side nutrition panel the exact details on what the product contains.
This article is meant to help teach you what foods contain what vitamins, and should not be used as a health guide.
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Ask A Biologist; “ABC’s of Vitamins”
Women To Women’s Marcelle Pick; “Choosing The Best Multivitamin”