Common questions about vitamins and supplements
(with answers you can understand and use to stay healthy)
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are defined as any of a variety of fat-soluble or water-soluble organic substances essential for normal growth and function of the body. Vitamins cannot be made by the body and must be consumed as part of your diet. They are obtained naturally from plant and animal foods. Without vitamins we would die.
There are two groups of vitamins; fat soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, are usually found in meat and meat products, animal fat and vegetable oils, dairy products and fish. They dissolve in fat before they are absorbed in the bloodstream and are stored in the liver.
Water-soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C. They are found in meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. They dissolve in water and are not stored in the body but are eliminated regularly in the urine. Water-soluble vitamins are easily destroyed by heat and light, or may be washed out during food preparation or storage.
Our bodies need a continuous supply of water-soluble vitamins.
Are supplements really necessary?
Vitamins, as well as minerals and essential fatty acids and other nutrients, are needed for a long, healthy life. You can get vitamins from your food and you can increase amounts of specific nutrients and combinations of nutrients through supplementation.
Today our fruits and vegetables have lost a considerable amount of their nutritional value if they have been grown on non-organic farms, processed, or stored for any length of time before reaching our plates. An apple in a bowl loses vitamins by the hour!
A diet that includes a variety of fresh, preferably organic, high quality food, from all the main food groups, may provide most of the nutrients we need. If you don't have time to shop for, prepare and eat naturally healthful meals every day, you may not be getting the small but important amounts of essential vitamins and other nutrients your body needs for optimum health.
Many people supplement for these reasons, as well as to provide support if one's health is compromised, if there is a family history of illness, if lifestyle factors reduce one's intake of healthy foods or just as health "insurance".