VITAMINS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
There’s been a lot of controversy about vitamins in recent years – should we take them, should we not take them? Some nutritionists claim we can get all we need from the food we eat, others say the nutritional deficiencies in our modern-day diets mean some of us need a little helping hand from time to time. But whatever side of the fence you sit on, it’s useful to know just exactly which vitamins might help improve your own individual health.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Vitamins are organic compounds we need to basically stay alive. Because the body does not produce enough of them itself, we get most of what we need from food. Every living thing on the planet needs vitamins in some shape or form. But what might be a vitamin to one species won’t necessarily be to another. For example, C is a vitamin for humans but not for dogs.
Many people tend to worry about vitamin deficiency, but in fact, vitamins can be taken in excess too which can be dangerous.
FAT vs WATER
Vitamins are classified as either fat soluble (A, D, E, and K) or water soluble (B and C) which determines how they behave in the body. Once fat soluble vitamins travel through the blood and reach tissues, they tend to stay there. So if you take too much of one of these vitamins they can prove harmful. Too much A,D,E or K can lead to a condition known as hypervitaminosis, the symptoms if which include nausea, drowsiness, hair loss and even permanent liver damage.
In contrast, water-soluble vitamins dissolve in H2O and aren’t stored by the body. They are eliminated through urine which means we need a regular daily supply of them. It also means that an overdose is highly unlikely, but that still doesn’t mean we should take huge amounts. All of the vitamins in the B group are water-soluble, which also means they can be destroyed by heat or water through cooking or by being exposed to the air. So we tend to lose many of these vitamins by the time the food in our fridges reaches our plates. The best way to retain as much Vitamin B and C as possible is to steam or grill foods, rather than boil them.