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Vitamin Basics

By HERWriter
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The best way to give your body all the vitamins it needs is by eating a well-balanced diet that contains the recommended portions of grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein. This sounds good on paper, but the reality is that most people don’t eat as balanced a diet as they should. The result is that some vitamins may be missing from our diets.

Vitamins are nutrients that are important for your overall health. Your body uses vitamins for growth, digestion, and to keep your nerves functioning the way they should. There are 13 basic vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate). Vitamins are packaged under many labels and in many combinations. Multi-vitamins often include all the primary vitamins and many minerals. You can also find formulas designed for children, seniors, men, and women.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that if some vitamins are good, more are better. This is not the case. In the United States, the Institute of Medicine, which is a private organization located in Washington, D.C., sets the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for many vitamins and minerals. This is the maximum amount that is recommended each day. If you are taking a multi-vitamin tablet and also eat foods that are super-fortified with certain substances such as folic acid, you may exceed your daily recommended dose.

Fat soluble vs. water soluble
Some vitamins are saved by the body for future use. These vitamins, known as “fat-soluble” vitamins include vitamins A and D. Because the body packs away excess of these vitamins for the future, it is possible to become sick from taking in too much of them. Symptoms of an excess of fat-soluble vitamins include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, clumsiness, birth defects, and heart rhythm problems.

Water-soluble vitamins, such as the B group of vitamins and vitamin C, are not stored by the body. If you take in more of these vitamins than your body needs, the excess is flushed out of the body when you urinate.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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