Unlike macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats, Vitamins and minerals don't provide energy. They also don't give us Instagram abs and glutes BUT they are indispensable compounds that aid the body to grow, function and repair optimally.
These essential vitamins help bolster your immunity, strengthen bones, heal wounds and injuries, support your eyesight and assist you in obtaining the energy you need from your food -- along with a whole host of crucial functions. When our vitamin intake is sub-optimal, we end up feeling lethargic, makes us vulnerable to infection and can end up at risk of other serious complications that can endanger your health.
Types of Vitamins
Vitamins are fundamentally classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Vitamins A, D, E and K and are fat soluble and are stored for up to six months in your various fat stores. The amounts of these are general more stable just like the fat in your body. Compared to water-soluble vitamins they circulate through your blood and include the B vitamins -- namely B-6, B-12, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin and folate -- and vitamin C. Your body doesn't store water-soluble vitamins, so you must replenish them regularly. the levels of these vitamins can fluctuate daily, just like your hydration levels.
Each vitamin generally has its own specific job to support the body, but they also often work together to facilitate your optimal health. Vitamin A supports healthy eyesight, immune function, skin, bones and teeth. Vitamin C is required to support absorption of the mineral iron, provide immune protection and encourage healthy tissue development. The sunshine vitamin known as Vitamin D, along with the mineral calcium, boosts bone health as well as a solid body defense system. Vitamin E facilitates your body's use of vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting and bone health, as well as promotes the formation of essential red blood cells. The eight B vitamins support a healthy metabolism, brain function, hormone production, regular heart operations, the functioning of the central nervous system and cell duties.
With sub-optimal vitamin intake, you end up risking your health. You can become more vulnerable to illnesses like heart disease and osteoporosis. You may not be able to recover sufficiently from the workouts you put your body through. A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to permanent nerve damage and anemia. Get too little vitamin C and your body can't produce collagen, the primary tissue in the body. In severe cases of vitamin C deficiency, people develop scurvy, characterized by muscle and joint pain, fatigue, spongy and swollen gums and red spots on the skin. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children, which manifests as bone pain, deformations, and poor growth and may contribute to poor bone health in adults as well as high blood pressure, some cancers and autoimmune diseases. Check out our blog about how to detect deficiencies here
A healthy balanced diet rich in a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, fortified dairy, whole grains, dried beans and lentils, and lean meats, fish and seafood helps you get all the vitamins you need. If you're making a lifestyle intervention you may choose to supplement your diet with supplements. Whilst this approach should only be an 'add-on' to your diet, it can be a convenient source of intake and help you feel satisfied that you're bridging the gap between what you actually get, and what you should take.