The 13 Essential Vitamins for a Healthy Body and Brain

Don't forget zinc and vitamin B12 for a healthy body and brain. The body uses free radicals not only to destroy cancer cells, but also to fight off a variety of common bacterial infections. Too much of any vitamin can inhibit the body's natural ability to fight these diseases. It is important to understand typical dietary intake to identify potential deficiencies, and then supplement those deficits with the exact vitamins needed.

This is especially relevant for people who have dietary restrictions due to health problems, or those who choose to eliminate certain food groups from their diets. Vegetarians, for example, may need supplemental amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B12, or omega-3 fatty acids. The National Institutes of Health notes that “some ingredients found in dietary supplements are added to a growing number of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages. As a result, you may be consuming more of these ingredients than you think and more may not be better. Too much vitamin A can cause liver damage and birth defects.

Excess iron can cause vomiting. In addition, they point out that “supplements cannot replace the variety of foods that are important for a healthy diet. You are perfectly capable of getting them all from your diet, assuming you don't have a disease that prevents you from absorbing them properly, so well-thought-out foods can easily replace that multivitamin. For this reason, it is essential that adequate amounts of these vitamins are consumed regularly as part of a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against free radical damage, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or radiation. While there seem to be an infinite number of supplements available, research indicates that there are only 13 vitamins your body needs to thrive.

In the early 20th century, the discovery of the seemingly miraculous properties of the 13 vitamins meant that certain diseases, such as Lyme disease, for example, could be prevented. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal and fortified foods, as well as in small amounts in certain types of seaweed. This is one vitamin that you'll definitely want to make sure you have enough of if you're a woman planning to get pregnant. And yet, if you don't get adequate amounts of the 13 essential vitamins, you'll get sick and possibly die. Unfortunately, taking a multivitamin with at least 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of each vitamin under the sun can be dangerous. For example, vitamin K may reduce the ability of the common blood thinner warfarin to prevent blood from clotting.

You can get all of this from your diet and, in fact, you probably consume enough of the foods you eat to make a daily multivitamin unnecessary. A study that systematically looked at vitamin use was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The onset of scurvy symptoms depends on how long it takes a person to consume their limited vitamin C stores. Newborn babies receive a boost to increase their vitamin K levels because they are born without bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.There are popular products on the market with megadoses of vitamin C that claim to prevent colds (or at least shorten their duration), but research has not been conclusive. Vitamin E is best obtained from a healthy diet that contains lots of fresh, minimally processed foods. It is important to remember that while vitamins are essential for good health and wellbeing, too much can be dangerous.

Taking more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance can lead to serious health problems such as liver damage or birth defects. It is also important to note that supplements cannot replace a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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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