Required by the body for metabolism, to protect health, and for the proper growth in children, vitamins are essential for health. These organic compounds also assist in the creation of blood cells, hormones, genetic material, and nervous system chemicals. The intricate ways in which all the vitamins act on and in the body are still not completely clear, although much has been learned in the recent past through research and studies.
The different vitamins are not chemically related and differ in their physical actions, but all generally act as catalysts. By combining with proteins, vitamins help create metabolic enzymes. These active enzymes are then in turn involved with hundreds of critical chemical reactions throughout the body. Without the catalyst of the vitamins, many essential functions of the body will slow down dramatically, or even cease, which will result in disease or death. We have many more Vitamins Help Articles Now Available.
There are currently thirteen well-defined vitamins, and they are classified according to their solubility – either fat-soluble, or water-soluble. Vitamins A,D,E,and K are the fat-soluble members of the family and generally come from foods that contain fat. To maintain health, it is not absolutely necessary to consume the fat-soluble vitamins daily, as they are stored in the body fat for later use if needed.
The eight B vitamins, along with vitamin C, are water-soluble. These cannot be stored up, and so must be consumed each day.
The human bodies can manufacture only vitamin D, through exposure of the skin to sunlight. When sterols, which are obtained readily from many foods migrate to the skin surface and become irradiated by sunlight vitamin D is created. As a side note, there has been a recent rise in cases of rickets, apparently linked to the overuse of shading and skin block to keep children out of the sun! Too much of a good thing…
Since 1940, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council in the United States has published Recommended Daily Allowances for vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Known as the RDA, these amounts are expressed in milligrams or in International Units (IU’s) for both children and adults.
There is some controversy surrounding the RDA’s, primarily from health professionals who state that the RDA is the absolute minimum required to avoid disease. No one denies this statement. As a matter of fact, many nutritional experts believe the RDA is far to conservative and that increased amounts of these nutrients acquired through proper supplementation, can help to avoid disease and prolong life for many people.
Other experts cite the lack of nutrients, particularly the minerals, in our modern food supply as a very good reason to take supplements. Still other authorities offer that since we live in a polluted environment and that some substances, particularly the anti-oxidants, are believed to counter many of the bad effects of that pollution, that supplementation just makes sense.
Each person must decide, for himself or herself, whether or not to take supplements. In order to do that intelligently they need to become educated in this field. Hopefully, the above brief description of the basics of vitamins will assist in that endeavour. We have many more Vitamins Help Articles Now Available.