Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | July 9, 2012

The Vast (and often confusing) World of Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements – Part I

  • Vitamins – A, C, Thiamine and B2, what all does it mean for you?

According to MedlinePlus, a site produced by the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, there are 13 essential vitamins which are needed by the body for optimal functioning. Vitamins are interesting substances in that they do amazing things for the body, and a deficiency in even one nutrient can lead to serious health issues. Furthermore, vitamins are divided into two categories; fat-soluble vitamins stay in the body for a longer period of time, and most water-soluble vitamins are used more rapidly, leaving the residual substances to be excreted by the body through urine. The following is a list of both types of vitamins and a brief description of their purpose in bodily functions:

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Thiamine (Vitamin B1) – Helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – Aids in bodily growth and creation of red blood cells.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) – Helps maintain healthy skin and digestive system.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) – Needed for metabolism and hormone production.

Vitamin B6 – Helps in making antibodies and hemoglobin.

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) – Crucial for healthy growth and development, particularly in

fetal development.

Vitamin B12 – Aids in the functioning of the central nervous system, in addition to helping with metabolism and red blood cell formation.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) – Required for growth and repair of tissues throughout the body, this nutrient also aids in wound healing and the creation of collagen.

Biotin – Essential for growth, this nutrient also helps with metabolism.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A – Helps maintain healthy skin, mucus membranes, teeth and vision.

Vitamin D – This interesting vitamin is actually manufactured by the body through sun exposure, and plays a major role in the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin E – Performs a variety of operations including immunity maintenance, aiding in the formation of red blood cells, and protecting the body against free radical damage.

Vitamin K – Aids in the ability of blood to clot.

Again, this is merely a brief overview of each of the essential vitamins. In actuality, many of these vitamins do much more to help the body function, especially in terms of how these vitamins work together. Conversely, a deficiency in one nutrient can impact the functionality of another. Folic acid works in conjunction with the other B-vitamins, a vitamin D deficiency can result in a calcium deficiency, and vitamin E helps utilize vitamin K in the body. Having a basic understanding of these nutrients and knowing what food sources contain them can be of great benefit. So, do some research on your own using reputable resources, and always consult a physician to get an accurate picture of your health needs.

Information obtained and adapted from the following sources:

– Medline Plus: Vitamins.

– United States Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Library.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.


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