Vitamins are essential nutrients the body requires to perform chemical reactions for maintenance of overall health. They facilitate the release of energy from macronutrients, promoting reproductive health and aiding with growth. Think about it this way: You find yourself in front of a locked door trying to get in but realize you’re missing the key. Hard to get in right? That’s how vitamins act in your body. Without them, some chemical reactions simply cannot occur.
Vitamins are categorized into water-soluble, which are comprised of vitamins B and C, and fat-soluble, composed of vitamins A, D, E and K. They’re all used in different ways. B vitamins are used to facilitate energy production in your metabolism. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which helps fight free radicals in your body. Vitamin A helps with the maintenance of the corneas in your eyes. Vitamin D helps increase the absorption of calcium to your bones. Vitamin E acts as another antioxidant. Vitamin K helps with the synthesis of blood-clotting proteins in the body. These vitamins are essential in your body as they help prevent diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, anemia, rickets and others.
Just because vitamins help prevent diseases or boost your metabolism doesn’t mean you should go buy supplements and start chugging them with no end. More vitamins present in the body does not denote good health. Everything in excess eventually can cause more harm than benefits and certain vitamins do have reported toxicity levels. The body does not excrete fat-soluble vitamins as they would water-soluble, so the body simply starts to store excess fat-soluble vitamins in the liver and adipose tissue.
You have to be very careful when consuming vitamin supplements as they often have the recommended amounts or sometimes even more than the daily recommended value. Add that up with the vitamins that your body absorbs through food and you get an idea of how much of that vitamin in being consumed. Because the body can store fat-soluble vitamins for later use, you can go about your day without consuming fat-soluble vitamins and the body will use its stores whenever they are needed. On the other hand, B and C vitamins can be monitored by the kidneys which can remove small excesses via the urine so it is hard to toxify on these, though some of them can create toxicity symptoms. Niacin, when taken in supplement form, can cause the body to feel what is called “niacin flush” which dilates capillaries and gives off a tingling sensation which can be painful. However, if consumed via natural food sources, it will cause no harm.
Sometimes, certain supplements claim that consuming multi-vitamins will provide energy. Despite claims made, vitamins do not yield any energy to the body. The only nutrients that provide energy are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. To some extent, however, vitamins are necessary to facilitate the release of that potential energy found in these energy-yielding nutrients. Without them, you would feel like you lack the energy necessary to go about your day. The best way to consume any type of vitamin is from natural sources, such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits and protein-rich foods.
By Eric Ortiz