How Antioxidants May Help
Antioxidants are able to neutralize marauders such as free radicals by giving up some of their own electrons. When a vitamin C or E molecule makes this sacrifice, it may allow a crucial protein, gene, or cell membrane to escape damage. This helps break a chain reaction that can affect many other cells.
It is important to recognize that the term antioxidant reflects a chemical property rather than a specific nutritional property. Each of the nutrients that has antioxidant properties also has numerous other aspects and should be considered individually. The context is also importantin some settings, for example, vitamin C is an antioxidant, and in others it can be a pro-oxidant.
What Are Vitamins And Minerals
Your body needs vitamins and minerals to work properly. You get them from the foods you eat every day.
Vitamins fall into two categories: fat soluble and water soluble :
- The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K dissolve in fat and are stored in your body.
- The water-soluble vitamins C and the B-complex vitamins dissolve in water. Your body can’t store these vitamins. Any B or C vitamins that your body doesn’t use travels through the bloodstream and is lost . So you need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day.
Vitamins are organic substances, which means theyre made by plants or animals. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from soil and water, and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. Your body needs larger amounts of some minerals, such as calcium, to grow and stay healthy. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are called trace minerals because you need only very small amounts of them.
The 16 Essential Minerals
In addition to the 13 essential vitamins your body needs, there are 16 essential minerals, all of which you might recognize from the periodic table. Unlike vitamins, minerals are inorganic, meaning they do not contain a carbon atom.
Macrominerals are the minerals that your body needs in relatively large amounts trace minerals are those that your body needs in small amounts. The essential macrominerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The trace minerals your body requires are iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.
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When To Take A Supplement
Most people can get the nutrients they need from diet alone. So if you dont have a nutrient deficiency, you shouldnt take a supplement just for the sake of it. Synthetic nutrients dont always match up to those found naturally in foods.
A good approach is to monitor your vitamin and mineral levels with a blood test. If youre low in a certain nutrient, you can up your intake of foods rich in these nutrients. However, supplements are definitely necessary in some cases.
Vitamin D supplements During autumn and winter, Public Health England advises that everyone should consider taking a 10 mcg daily vitamin D supplement from October to March. And if youre more at-risk, they recommend taking them year-round.
If youre someone who doesnt get much sunlight during the summer months, wear sunscreen top to toe, or have darker skin, then its recommended that you take a supplement all year.
Vitamin B12 supplements If youre a vegan or vegetarian then youre more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. If a blood test shows that youre deficient or if you follow a strict vegan diet then its recommended that you take a supplement.
A cyanocobalamin supplement is a good choice as its a form that your body can easily use. Its also possible to get a vitamin B12 injection this is especially useful if your deficiency is caused by absorption issues in your stomach. The form of hydroxocobalamin can be given every three months.
Should I Take A Supplement
Lots of people wonder if they should take vitamin or mineral supplements. If your diet includes a wide variety of foods including whole-grain products, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, and meats you probably get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
There are many supplements on the market, and of course their makers want you to buy them. Beware of unproven claims about the benefits of taking more than recommended amounts of any vitamin or mineral. Healthy teens usually don’t need supplements if they eat a well-rounded diet.
Check with your doctor before taking vitamin or mineral supplements. Just because something is good for you doesnt mean that more is better. Some vitamins and minerals can cause health problems if you get too much of them.
Talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you’re skipping meals, dieting, are a picky eater, or have any concerns about your diet. They can answer your questions and help you create a healthy eating plan that includes the nutrients your body needs.
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Can I Eat Too Much Fiber
You should be careful going fiber-crazy if your body isnt used to eating very much. It might be best to slowly increase your fiber intake instead of attempting to double your consumption all at once. Consuming a lot of fiber can cause short-term constipation, bloating, and gas if your body isnt used to itsome of the very things you are likely trying to avoid by upping your intake!
Its also extremely important to make sure youre drinking plenty of water each day to help promote optimal function in your body. Fiber needs water to help it flow through your system and keep you regular. Additionally, its a lot more difficult to overdo it on the fiber or experience negative side effects when youre eating it in its natural form, so load up on those fruits and veggies!
What Supplements Does My Dog Need
Were going to give it to you straight here there is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on what recipe youre looking to feed your pup as well as your dogs weight, age, and exercise level. If you do not wish to initially consult with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist, there are ways research and figure this out yourself before checking with your veterinarian to confirm. There are online handbooks to help you figure out your pups nutritional needs based on a variety of factors, including weight and activity level. You should also research the number of calories and the nutritional value of the recipes you wish to feed your pup and go from there. Some common supplements that are used in homemade dog food are:
- Calcium supplements
- Vitamins A and E
- Hip and joint supplements
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and it doesnt mean that your pet needs all of them. Also, consider that the way your dogs food is cooked and stored can also lower the nutritional value of your homemade dog food recipes. Nutrients can be destroyed through both heating and the freezing food.
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What Do Vitamins And Minerals Do
Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. For example, you’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. It’s true! Carrots are full of substances called carotenoids that your body converts into vitamin A, which helps prevent eye problems.
Vitamin K helps blood to clot, so cuts and scrapes stop bleeding quickly. You’ll find vitamin K in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and soybeans. And to have strong bones, you need to eat foods such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables, which are rich in the mineral calcium.
What Should You Look For In A Vitamin
For one thing, its time to move away from vitamins in pill form. And if youve stocked up and dont want to throw away something you spent money on, you can crush up your pills and let them dissolve as you drink them.
That being said, when youve depleted your supply, look for alternatives to the pill. For example, new technology like our PatchMD is specifically designed for convenient, safe, and optimal absorption. There are no fillers, and its easy to use.
Other things to look for in your vitamins are fillers and binders. Check the ingredients. Make sure there arent fillers, artificial colors, corn syrup, sugar, binders, or preservatives.
Do your research. Who are you buying your vitamins from? Do they offer testimonials? Are they open and honest about their ingredients? Do they test on animals or make an effort to decrease their carbon footprint?
Look to buy from a manufacturer that has done their research and designs their vitamins to be used in the most efficient way possible.
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Where To Get A Vitamin And Mineral Deficiency Test
NHS vitamin and mineral tests The NHS offers blood tests that can be done at your GPs or a local hospital. A trained nurse or doctor will take your blood, usually a venous sample.
Home vitamin and mineral tests Its possible to order home vitamin and mineral test kits online and do it yourself. For this test, youll use a lancet to collect a finger-prick blood sample. Your results will be reviewed by a GP and are available for you to view online.
Vitamin D Levels Decline During The Cooler Months
From the end of summer onwards, you can expect your vitamin D blood level to decline by half every 2 to 3 months. The decline will continue until you are able to obtain strong, direct sunlight again.
If you supplement vitamin D 400 IU daily, you should be able to avoid the Severely Deficient band even without any sun exposure.
If your skin type is light Caucasian, you can use the method without adjustment. For other skin types, all you need to do is to multiply the given sun exposure times . Darker skins need more time to make vitamin D.
The method yields a quick estimate of your vitamin D status, assuming you do not already supplement vitamin D. Its not a blood test. But it is a good starting point. It may also help you to realize why most people are vitamin D deficient for part of the year, and others are vitamin D deficient all year.
You can also see why it is so hard for most people to optimize their vitamin D level by sun exposure alone. Most of us just dont get nearly enough sun.
Hopefully you can also work out the times of year when YOU are likely to be vitamin D deficient. This can help you decide on a vitamin D supplementation strategy.
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Everything You Need To Know About Vitamins
Following all the latest news on vitamins could be a full-time job. Actually, what the average consumer needs to know about vitamins is surprisingly straightforward.
New studies and claims about vitamins are published daily, and many seem to contradict each other.
What does an average consumer really need to know about vitamins?
The fairly simple answer is, not much, says Paul Thomas, EdD, RD, scientific consultant with the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.
Almost everyone can benefit from taking a supplement with calcium because most people dont get as much as they need through their diets 1,000 mg a day for adults, increasing to 1,200 mg after age 50.
Thomas notes that some vitamins become especially important at certain times in a persons life. Pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should be certain to get enough folate, or folic acid, a B-complex vitamin 600 units a day, rather than 400.
And as you age, you should probably take a daily supplement to get additional B12, he suggests.
You dont have to become an expert or learn all the intricacies of all the vitamins because you can’t, adds Dr. Thomas. Theres simply too much information to try to remember.
What you need to do is eat a healthy diet, selecting recommended foods based on the USDA guidelines.
Because few of us consistently eat a well-balanced diet, Thomas says taking an over-the-counter multivitamin, even a store brand, is a good idea.
How To Increase Vitamin B12 Levels
Food: When possible, it is always best to get your nutrients through food. Foods highest in B12 include beef liver, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, lamb, salmon, eggs, and milk products.
Supplementation: The route of delivery and type of supplement you use depends on a few different factors. If you are significantly deficient and symptomatic, you will benefit most from intramuscular injections of B12 initially.
In our practice, we prefer using sublingual B12 versus oral B12 because some patients have difficulty absorbing oral B12 as a result of low stomach acid, impaired intrinsic factor, or intestinal inflammation. When using sublingual B12, we prefer methylcobalamin versus cyanocobalamin because methylcobalamin is the active form used in the body, whereas cyanocobalamin must be converted prior to use in the body.
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Some Basic Macronutrient Knowledge
Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide us with the energy needed by our bodies for growth, metabolism and other functions. The prefix macro means large macronutrients are needed in large quantities in contrast to micronutrients .
Proteins, fats and carbohydrates make up the group of macronutrients. Let us take a moment to briefly look at each of these macronutrients.
Carbohydrates: These are a major source of energy for our bodies and are stored in our muscles and liver for later use. Foods that contain large amounts of carbohydrates include fruits, grains and roots . Carbohydrates provide 4 Calories of energy per gram. Check out this post to learn more about carbohydrates.
Proteins: Our bodies use proteins to grow tissue and muscle, repair organs and to create hormones and enzymes proteins are also used for energy when carbohydrates are unavailable. Foods that contain high levels of protein include poultry, fish, beans, diary, nuts and legumes. Proteins provide 4 Calories of energy per gram.
Fats: In order to absorb vitamins, our bodies need fats. Foods that contain a high percentage of fat include cooking oils, butter, nuts and cheese. Of the three macronutrients, fats contain the highest number of calories per gram fats provide 9 Calories of energy per gram.
Table 1. IOMs Macronutrient Ranges Recommendations
Symptoms Of Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies
As theres such a wide range of vitamins and minerals, the symptoms of a deficiency can vary. Here are some of the most common signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies outlined below.
Iron is a mineral that your body needs to make red blood cells these carry oxygen around your body. If you dont get enough iron you might:
- feel weak
- get heart palpitations
- get headaches
Blood loss is a cause of iron deficiency so women are more at risk due to periods and pregnancy. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet you might also be at an increased risk because plant-based sources of iron are harder for your body to absorb.
Vitamin D deficiencyVitamin D is used by every cell in your body and is essential for your bone and muscle health, as well as supporting your immune system. If you dont get enough vitamin D you might:
- feel tired
- have weak bones putting you at risk of osteoporosis long-term
- have muscle pain
- feel anxious or depressed
You get most of the vitamin D you need from sunlight but its also found in foods like eggs, oily fish, liver, and dairy although its hard to get enough from diet alone. In the UK, low vitamin D levels are common because you dont get enough sun exposure during winter.
Folate deficiencyFolate is a B vitamin thats required to make red blood cells and to make and repair your DNA. Its sometimes called folic acid the synthetic version of this vitamin. If you don’t get enough folate you might:
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How Do I Get The Vitamins And Minerals I Need
Eating well now is especially important because the body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals to grow and stay healthy.
Eating a mix of foods is the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals you need each day. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and poultry are the best choices for getting the nutrients your body needs.
When deciding what to eat, check food labels and pick items that are high in vitamins and minerals. For example, when choosing drinks, you’ll find that a glass of milk is a good source of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium. A glass of soda, on the other hand, doesn’t have any vitamins or minerals.
You can also satisfy your taste buds without sacrificing nutrition while dining out: vegetable pizzas or fajitas, sandwiches with lean cuts of meat, fresh salads, and baked potatoes are just a few delicious, nutritious choices.
If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll need to plan carefully for a diet that includes the vitamins and minerals you need. The best sources for the minerals zinc and iron are meats, fish, and poultry. But you can get these from dried beans, seeds, nuts, and leafy green vegetables like kale.
Vitamin B12 is important for making red blood cells and keeping nerves working well. It is found only in animal products. If you don’t eat meat, you can get vitamin B12 from eggs, milk and other dairy foods, and fortified breakfast cereals. Vegans may need to take vitamin B12 supplements.
Signs Of Nutrient Deficiency
Signs you may be missing key vitamins and minerals, and how to reverse deficiencies
Everyone knows that we need vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies healthy. But how do you know when you aren’t meeting your body’s needs?
“There are many telltale signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies,” says Patricia Graham, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Rush University Medical Center. “But the good news is that often, if you take steps to address the deficiency, the symptoms will either improve or go away altogether.”
Here, Graham walks through six red-flag scenarios, and how you might reverse any deficiencies found.
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