What Vitamins Should I Be Taking?
Our bodies convert food into energy and nutrients to heal wounds, strengthen bones, and keep us from getting sick. Vitamins play a key role in this miraculous process. But what are the most important vitamins you should be taking? Our guide will help you learn more about essential vitamins and how they affect your body.
Vitamin D supports bone and skeletal health. It also boosts brain function and helps prevent mood disorders by balancing hormones.
Most people know that vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to the sun. However, people who live in cloudy climates or who wear sunscreen diligently can be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Increase consumption of vitamin D by getting out in the sunshine without sunscreen for 15-20 minutes a day, or by eating foods like tuna, salmon, cheese, and egg yolk.
B Vitamins (specifically B-12)
Vitamin B-12 is one of the most important nutrients for metabolic function. Along with folate, this vitamin promotes brain function by preventing fatigue and boosting cognitive functions. They work to turn calories into fuel, helping with cellular processes like growth and energy expenditure.
You can get B vitamins from an array of animal products including eggs, milk, yogurt, meat, and fish. Vegetables like spinach and asparagus or citrus fruits are high in folate.
Antioxidants (Vitamin A,C,E)
Vitamins A, C, and E work together to fight the effects of aging. They prevent free radical damage, which can lead to problems with the heart, eyes, skin, and brain. Specifically, vitamin C boosts immunity, and vitamins A and E protect healthy cells.
Fruits and vegetables like oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and lemons are high in vitamin C. Vitamin A can be found in fortified breakfast cereals, and orange and yellow vegetables like peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Find vitamin E in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
Magnesium is an electrolyte that helps regulate calcium, potassium, and sodium, which are three nutrients critical to more than 300 biochemical functions in the body. This vitamin supports bone health and prevents diabetes and premenstrual syndrome. Magnesium deficiency can lead to leg cramps, insomnia, headaches, and digestive issues.
Find magnesium in whole wheat, spinach, quinoa, almonds, and avocado. You can also get a hearty dose of magnesium from legumes like black beans and edamame, and from dark chocolate.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important anti-inflammatory vitamins. They work in balance with omega-6 fatty acids to promote health in the heart, brain, and immune system. People should strive for a 2:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega-3s, which will help to prevent arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Consume enough omega-3s by eating plenty of wild-caught fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines or anchovies. Omega-3 can also be found in canola oil, soybeans, eggs, and chia seeds.
Calcium is known as the go-to vitamin for strengthening bones, but it does much more than that. This important vitamin also regulates rhythms in the heart, enhances muscle function, controls blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and more.
You can, of course, find calcium in dairy products like cow’s milk, yogurt, and kefir. You can also find calcium in a variety of non-dairy foods, especially leafy green vegetables like collard greens and kale, or in broccoli and beans.
Iodine is an important nutrient that helps to fight off conditions like hypothyroidism, fatigue, and hormonal imbalance. Pregnant women need to be especially careful to consume adequate amounts of iodine, since it supports healthy brain development of the unborn fetus.
Americans can conveniently consume iodine by using iodized salt in their cooking, or by consuming iodine-rich foods like eggs, prunes, and dairy. Iodine can also be found in seafood such as cod, shrimp, and tuna.
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