When talking about nutrition, we tend to focus on the big macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrates. And, while these are vital to your health, it’s also important that we not forget the little guys, the micronutrients. This group includes things like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that all perform necessary functions in your body but are needed in smaller quantities.
For now, let’s focus on just the vitamins, though. Specifically, what five vitamins are most people lacking from their diet? Why would supplementation be a good idea?
Vitamin D – Sunlight is good for you in tons of ways. It improves your mood, can boost your metabolism and may even improve your cardiovascular health. As it turns out, though, many of these benefits of sunlight are actually caused by vitamin D – which your body makes when you’re exposed to the sun. Considering how it’s made, though, it’s pretty strange to realize that vitamin D deficiency is an extremely common condition – caused by limited time outside. Not only can vitamin D deficiency impact your cardiovascular health and brain function, it could impact you in many other ways since this vitamin regulates your absorption of other nutrients, including calcium.
B12 – Also called cobalamin, B12 helps your body maintain energy levels by properly using fats and carbohydrates. The vitamin also helps to protect the health of your nerve cells and even oversees the production of DNA and RNA. Working along with other B vitamins, cobalamin supports mood, immune function and cardiovascular health as well. For the most part, B12 is fairly easy to get through your diet – unless you’re a vegan. In that case, supplementation is generally recommended.
Vitamin C – A star in the world of vitamins, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that assists in the growth and maintenance of just about every cell and tissue in your body. Because of it’s contributions to cells growth, vitamin C is also vital when it comes to wound healing and immune function. Since your body cannot produce vitamin C on it’s own – a trait we share with the humble guinea pig – it’s vital that you get enough from outside sources. Although it is possible to suffer from digestive upset when taking incredibly large doses of vitamin C, this is relatively rare – mostly because your body cannot store the vitamin.
Folic Acid (B9) – Another B vitamin, folic acid contributes to the growth of new cells. For this reason, it is particularly important pregnant women – as a deficiency could cause major birth defects in their children. Folic acid, however, is important for everyone, regardless of age.
Vitamin E – Actually a group of eight related chemicals, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your cells and tissues from free radical damage. In particular, though, vitamin E gives special attention to your skill cells, helping to protect them from the damage they endurance when exposed to too much sunlight.