Vitamin Supplements

Your guide to vitamins

In our busy lives, many of us miss some of the nutritional food choices needed to keep us healthy. Fortunately, nutritional supplements of every vitamin and mineral we need are readily available. Grocery stores, health food stores and pharmacies are just a few of the places where these supplements are sold.

Vitamin supplements are available in many forms. For example, vitamin C supplements come as chewable tablets or as drops or powders to be mixed into beverages. You only have to choose which is more palatable for your taste. If you need or want supplements of many vitamins, consider drinking an all-in-one liquid vitamin.

Vitamin Guide

There are two categories of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin C) must be replenished daily because they are not stored in our bodies. Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) can be stored for a while but must be replenished as our bodies draw on the reserves.

Each vitamin plays a specific role in keeping our body healthy.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A promotes healthy bones, teeth, skin and connective tissue. Retinol, a form of vitamin A, gets its name because of its importance to the health of the retina. It can prevent night blindness.

The B Vitamins

Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Pyridoxine, Biotin, Folic Acid and Cyanocobalamin(B12) are the B vitamins.The B vitamins work together to support metabolism, the immune system, healthy skin and the nervous system. They also help the cardiovascular system, aid in relieving stress and increase energy. Folic acid is necessary for healthy fetal growth and childhood development.

Vitamin C

Found in citrus fruits, vitamin C helps fight viruses and promotes healthy skin, bones, connective tissue and mucous membranes. It also aids in the absorption of iron.

Vitamin D

This is important for the growth of bones and teeth because it aids in the absorption of calcium. It is also important to the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Vitamin D is most often received through sun exposure, so if you have dark skin, live in a northern (less sunny) climate or spend little time outdoors, consider taking vitamin D supplements to compensate.

Vitamin E

It aids in the absorption of iron, helps prevent blood clots and protects cells from damage. It has also been shown to slow the aging process of organs and cells. Vitamin E is found mainly in seeds, nuts and vegetable oils (sunflower, safflower, canola and oil), so people on low-fat diets, which often eliminate these foods, may need to take vitamin E supplements. However, too much vitamin E can be harmful, so seeking medical advice before adding such a supplement to your diet is strongly recommended.

Vitamin K

This vitamin helps in the clotting of blood and healing of wounds.

Even the most well-balanced diets can sometimes benefit from a vitamin supplement. Know what vitamins and minerals you are and aren't getting from your diet or lifestyle, and talk to your doctor or a registered dietician about which supplements, and how much of them, you should take.

By Janice Gaskins