Understanding and using vitamins

A great way to ensure that you are getting most or all of the vitamins you need is to add to your regular diet by adding a variety of loaded foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

When considering the food we eat, we are likely to bring to mind biases that influence our selection of those foods. We will select our food based on taste, degree of craving, availability, etc.

Nutrients are the useful substances obtained from the food we eat. Approximately 50 nutrients are required each day to ensure optimal health. It is important to know and consume foods that are beneficial.

Food is classified according to the work it does as protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals and water. Because of its role in the process of food utilization, air (with its oxygen and other gases) is seen by some as an important nutrient.

Vitamins are organic substances that help to regulate the functions of the body. Thirteen major vitamins are identified. A deficiency in even one of these vitamins can produce a deficiency disease. Vitamins are sometimes classified as water-soluble or fat-soluble. They are needed in small amounts.

The 13 major vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B7, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. Up until the middle of the 1930s these vitamins were obtained solely through diet, until the production of synthetic and semi-synthetic versions.

For best results when using vitamins consider the following:

Consuming vitamins is not enough. You should also ensure that you are getting adequate amounts. It is important to note that some vitamins, especially when had through the use of supplements, are likely to produce negative side effects when too much is consumed. This is less likely to occur when your vitamins are had from the food.

A great way to ensure that you are getting most or all of the vitamins you need is to add to your regular diet by adding a variety of loaded foods. Loaded foods yield large numbers of nutrients or a high concentration of a few. When these foods are consumed daily you are ensuring the consumption of important vitamins and minerals. The following is a short list of loaded foods for you to consider:

• Brewer’s yeast

• Blackstrap molasses

• Fresh vegetable salad consisting of four or more vegetables of varying colors

• Fresh fruit salad consisting of four or more fruits of varying taste and color

Although the vitamins you need are best from the foods you eat, making use of vitamin supplements is OK, especially if you are unsure as to whether or not you are getting all of the important vitamins from your diet. The key is to choose supplements that are appropriate to your needs. Your age, gender, level of activity and state of health (e.g., are you diabetic) are just some of the things to be considered. The supplement also should be inspected for appropriateness, quality and safety. Is it starch and sugar free? Does it have salt, wheat, yeast, artificial colors and flavors or other additives that may affect you negatively? After trying a few different brands of supplements, stay with the one(s) that work best for you.

Vitamin loss is possible when certain vitamins are exposed to heat, light and/or air. It is wise to follow the instructions provided for the proper use and storage of the vitamins you are using.

For more information, call at 941-625-4175, ext. 263, or visit the Cultural Center of Charlotte County’s Fitness Center at 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte.


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