Vitamins: The Basics

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From cereal boxes to juice cartons, it seems like every food and beverage products is boasting its vitamin content. But what roles do vitamins play and why are they so important? Read on as we help decode some of the most common terms used in the vitamin world.

Essential Vitamins VS Non-Essential Vitamins

“Vitamin” which stems from the Latin word, “vita”—means life. They actually do not provide energy…but are crucial to life in the sense that they are needed to turn food into energy. Every vitamin is absorbed differently in the body. They fall into two categories 1) essential vitamins and 2) non-essential vitamins. They key differences between the two are found in the name. “Essential” refers to the fact that the body cannot make this vitamin (or rather, not an adequate amount that is needed for our bodies to carryout bodily functions) and “non-essential” refers to the body being able to synthesize it.

Fat Soluble Vitamins VS Water Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are only absorbed by foods with fat and thus adequate intake of dietary fat is very important to ensure proper absorption. Once the vitamin is absorbed, it is stored in adipose tissue, otherwise known as body fat, and the liver. Since we are able to maintain stores, we are less likely to be deficient deficient in these vitamins. On the contrary, we should be more cautious of our levels of these vitamins since it is possible to build up toxic levels. Note that consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables rarely leads to the build up of toxic levels. In most cases, people should be more cautious when taking supplements, powders or consuming fortified beverages.

Water soluble vitamins are directly absorbed by cells and if we consume them in exces, they will be flushed out of our system. Because we do not build up stores of these vitamins in our fat cells, water-soluble vitamins need to be restored more often.

The “Fat Soluble Vitamins”:

·      Vitamin A

·       Vitamin D

·       Vitamin E

·       Vitamin K

 

The “Water Soluble Vitamins”:

These are collectively known as the “B vitamins”:

·       Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

·       Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

·       Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

·       Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

·       Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

·       Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

·       Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

·       Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) —-***side note next blog folate vs folic acid?

And last but not least…

·       Vitamin C

 

Biggest Takeaway? 

Be sure to take your multivitamin with food. Vitamins and food work like a lock and key. If you don’t have food for the vitamin to “latch onto,” the vitamin will not get absorbed!

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