The Wonderful World of Vitamins...Part 1
By Colleen Palati
Vitamins are vital if we are to achieve maximum health and weight loss. An understanding of vitamins and their function in our bodies can help us to improve our health and supplement our diet. Vitamins are only needed in relatively small amounts. However a deficiency or an abundance of even one vitamin can make us sick.
A vitamin is an organic substance or chemical found in food that is absolutely necessary for normal growth, health, and bodily functions. Vitamins help the body to resist infection, as well as to increase mental alertness. Some vitamins can even help the body to produce hormones, blood cells, and chemicals in your nervous system.
It is best to ingest our nutrients through whole foods but very often we need to supplement our diet. If needed, choose natural, whole food vitamins. Natural, whole food vitamins are made from a natural food source and are absorbed by the body much better than chemically produced vitamins.
There are 14 different vitamins that fall into two distinct categories. They are fat-soluable and water-soluable. In this article, I will focus primarily on fat-soluable vitamins and their functions. In part 2 of this article, I will discuss water-soluable vitamins and their purpose.
Fat-soluable vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in your body fat and liver if not used immediately for digestion. Excess fat-soluable vitamins can accumulate in your body and reach toxic levels.
The following is a description of each fat-soluable vitamin:
Vitamin A - Can be found in liver, dairy, and cod liver oil. Helps our cells reproduce normally, stimulates our immune system, and is required for the formation of protein, bone, and growth hormone. Aids in fighting infection, PMS, urinary tract infections, and acne. May reduce harmful cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Vitamin A may prevent night blindness, improve eyesight, and strengthen our teeth, bones, hair and gums.
Vitamin D - Can be found in cod liver oil, egg yolks, and butter, but the majority of vitamin D can be supplemented by sunlight exposure. Helps our bodies to absorb calcium and vitamin A. If taken with vitamins C and A, it can help to prevent colds. Without vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium cannot build strong bones and teeth. Also aids in preventing migraine headaches and osteoporosis.
Vitamin E - Look for Vitamin E in wheat germ oil, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, whole grains, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables. Aids in PMS, cold sores, increased energy, and wound healing. Helps keep our skin looking young, aids oxygen in traveling throughout our bodies, prevents and dissolves blood clots, and helps wounds heal faster. Also aids in lowering blood pressure, minimizing leg cramps, and in helping nerves convey messages faster.
Vitamin K - Found in leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K is needed for proper bone formation and blood clotting. Helps the body transport calcium.
Proper nutrition is the key to a long and healthy life. Make wise food choices each and every day to maintain the healthy lifestyle that we all aim for!
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this article when I will discuss the other category of nutrients"water-soluable vitamins.
Yours in healthy living,
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Pittsburgh, PA 15239
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