Many people know that vitamins are necessary without understanding what they really are. Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for regulating the way that the body works. Some of the functions that could not take place effectively without them are reproduction, cell division, digestion, blood clotting, energy production etc.
The chemical processes of life cannot take place without the presence of vitamins to help them. Some of these are very complex organic chemicals, which is why they are given letters rather than names. Vitamins cannot be produced within the body, and have to be taken in through eating foods in which they occur naturally, or through supplementation.
If you do not maintain a properly balanced diet, then you will not take in the full range of vitamins required by a healthy body. There are at least 13 known vitamins, and every one is essential for a healthy life and to produce the energy needed by some sections of society. The physically challenged, for example, required more energy than normal in order to move around in a wheelchair or to use crutches.
The elderly, whose diets can sometimes be relatively poor, require a balanced vitamin intake to be able to withstand the rigors of advancing years, and everybody needs vitamins simply to remain alive and enjoy a longer life. Without them our life processes slow down, and our bodies are subject to a range of illnesses and conditions. Although vitamins do not provide energy, they allow the body to process foods and create energy.
Pregnant women need a balanced vitamin intake for a healthy fetus and all women of child-bearing age should have a good intake of folic acid . People who drink a lot, especially alcohol, should also take a supplement since they will tend to wash out the water soluble vitamins. Most people fail to maintain a diet that is balanced in respect of its vitamin intake which is why supplementation is so important.
However, it is not good enough just to take vitamin supplements now and again: that does not have the required effect of maintaining a constant satisfactory level within the body. A REGULAR vitamin intake is necessary for the full benefit of supplements to be obtained. Vitamins are not like medicines, to be taken only when you are ill. They must be taken constantly, either in natural food or as supplements.
Modern food processing techniques, including over-cooking, can destroy or deplete some of the natural vitamin content of many foodstuffs. Vitamin C, for example, is leached out of vegetables by boiling water and destroyed by the heat of cooking. Regular supplementing of your diet with vitamins is becoming increasingly necessary to ensure that your intake of these essential substances is constantly maintained at a satisfactory level.
If you need to know more about vitamins and what supplements are available, then you should carry out some online research. Websites such as vitanetonline can give you more information and make some suggestions as to how to begin taking supplements. Generally, however, a good way to start ensuring that you are maintaining the correct vitamin level is to begin with a multivitamin supplement.
This will keep your vitamin intake at a good level while you have time to study your diet, and then decide what specific supplementation is necessary. For example, if you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables but no dairy products, you might need no more than a Vitamin B12 supplement that is available naturally only from meats, fish and dairy products. Some vitamins are water soluble, and not stored by the body. They have to be ingested every day, so if the correct foods are not eaten daily then supplements will be necessary.
The water soluble vitamins are Vitamin C and the B complex vitamins. However, while a regular intake of these is required, that might not be true of the fat soluble vitamins that are stored in the body and used when required. While a sufficient supply of these is recommended, an excess is not. That is why carefully formulated multivitamin supplements are preferred to individual vitamins if you are unsure about what you need or have not been recommended a specific supplement by a physician or dietician.
Because vitamins are 'used' by the body, they have to be replaced on a regular basis. In olden days, sailors were given limes to provide the vitamin C that prevented scurvy. This was effective, but once they ran out of limes the scurvy returned. This is true of vitamins today. You must take them regularly in order to replace them as they are used and depleted.
Properly formulated multivitamin supplements take the average life of vitamins in the body into consideration. They allow for the fact that the water soluble vitamins are washed out of the body but that fat soluble ones are stored until required. Their benefit is that you do not have to worry about taking individual supplements at varying periods of time, but simply take the recommended dose at the recommended times.
If you fail to take your supplements regularly, the chemical processes within your body will slow down. You might start to feel ill effects, or you might not be aware of the fact that your metabolism is slowing since the condition could affect your brain cells. Vitamin deficiencies take many forms and are not always noticeable. Long term deficiencies sometimes only become apparent as one ages.
However, in the 21st century it is unlikely that anybody eating a reasonable diet would suffer significantly, though nutritional experts maintain that all adults can benefit from a regular top-up of vitamin supplements. Especially those who live on a diet of burgers and chili dogs! For you it is particularly important to take your vitamins regularly!