The Benefits of Vitamins: How They Work in the Body

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that work together to perform hundreds of functions in the body. They help to strengthen bones, heal wounds, and boost the immune system. Vitamins also convert food into energy and repair cell damage, allowing the body to grow and function properly. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate).

These organic substances are classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins

(vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K) dissolve in fat and can accumulate in the body.

Water-soluble vitamins

(vitamin C and B vitamins) must be dissolved in water before they can be absorbed and cannot be stored. Any water-soluble vitamin not used by the body is usually lost through urine.

Ideally, we should get our vitamins from the food we eat. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats combine with other substances to provide energy and build body tissue. Enzymes produced from specific vitamins initiate or accelerate these chemical reactions. For example, group B vitamins help form active enzymes that transfer energy from food to the body.

The body stores fat-soluble vitamins in adipose tissue and the liver; these stores can remain in the body for days or even months. Smokers should avoid multivitamin supplements with large amounts of beta-carotene or vitamin A as these nutrients may increase their risk of lung cancer (43, 4). Vegetarians should plan their diets carefully to ensure they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. Vitamins have been a source of controversy since their discovery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1950s, most vitamins and multivitamins were available for sale to the general public to prevent deficiencies; some received a great deal of marketing in popular magazines such as cod liver oil containing vitamin D being promoted as bottled sunlight.

Many people in the United States take multivitamins and other supplements even though they may not be necessary or helpful according to research. A varied and balanced diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables should be your main source of vitamins. Some studies suggest that there is no effect on cancer risk while others link multivitamin use to an increased risk of cancer (9, 11, 14, 1). Pregnant people should be especially careful with their vitamin A intake since excessive intake has been linked to congenital disabilities (3). When choosing beverages, a glass of milk is a good source of vitamin D as well as calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Ben Liebhardt
Ben Liebhardt

Amateur travel fanatic. General web buff. Certified travel junkie. Twitter nerd. Infuriatingly humble web practitioner. Certified beer nerd.

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