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What Do All These Vitamins Do?

Vitamins are essential to the body's functions: supporting your immune system, encouraging normal growth and development, and assisting cells and organs.... Read More

What Do All These Vitamins Do?

Vitamins are essential to the body’s functions: supporting your immune system, encouraging normal growth and development, and assisting cells and organs.

The body doesn’t retain all vitamins the same, however. It stores fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E and K – in your fatty tissue, while using most water-soluble vitamins right away and passing excess amounts through your kidneys. The only exception, vitamin B12, is held in the liver. As a result, recommended daily values vary. You only need small, occasional amounts of fat-soluble vitamins – too much, and they become toxic to the body. For water-soluble vitamins, you should be consuming these in small, regular doses.

Beyond these distinctions, each offers specific benefits:

Vitamin A – Whether from retinols in the body or beta carotene, vitamin A is a must for vision health and supports teeth, bone growth, soft tissue and mucous membranes.

Vitamin B1 – B1, also known as thiamin, helps convert carbohydrates into energy and supports healthy skin, hair, muscles and brain development.

Vitamin B2 – Also known as riboflavin, B2 works with other B vitamins to support growth and red blood cells.

Vitamin B3 – B3, known as niacin, assists with converting food into energy and may help lower cholesterol. The vitamin is further essential to maintaining skin, blood cell, brain and nervous system health.

Vitamin B5 – This vitamin is crucial for converting food into energy and assists with generating lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones and hemoglobin.

Vitamin B6 – This vitamin helps lower homocysteine levels in the body, and is essential for creating red blood cells, converting tryptophan to niacin and serotonin, and supporting brain and nerve functions. Usage may also lower heart disease risks.

Vitamin B12 – Also responsible for lowering homocysteine levels, this vitamin helps the body generate new cells, breaks down fatty and amino acids, protects nerve cells, supports your metabolism and central nervous system, and encourages growth. Vitamin B12 may also lower heart disease risks.

Biotin – Biotin is vital to your body’s metabolism, as it helps convert carbohydrates and proteins into energy. At the same time, it’s essential for creating glucose, breaking down fatty acids, and having healthy bones and hair.

Vitamin C – Sometimes labeled as ascorbic acid, this vitamin assists in multiple functions: making collagen, serotonin and norepinephrine; supporting the immune system; healing wounds; absorbing iron; and keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Consumption may also protect against cataracts.

Choline – This vitamin assists in two of the body’s functions: making and releasing acetylcholine, a substance necessary for nerve and brain function, and helping you metabolize and digest fats.

Vitamin D – Your body naturally makes this vitamin after you’ve spent time in the sun. In supporting your body’s functions, it helps to balance your calcium and phosphorus levels and assists with forming teeth and bones.

Vitamin E – This antioxidant protects vitamin A and lipids, and helps the body use Vitamin K. Incorporating it into your diet may lower Alzheimer’s and prostate cancer risks.

Folic Acid – Whether as folic acid or folate, this vitamin is essential in creating new cells. Particularly, it assists your body’s DNA production, tissue growth and cell function. Expecting mothers are recommended to take it during pregnancy, as it helps prevent brain and spinal defects.

Vitamin K – Vitamin K activates proteins and calcium to help your blood clot. Studies have further associated it with promoting bone health and preventing hip fractures.

The best way to get the proper amount of these essential vitamins is through a varied diet and balanced lifestyle. Consult your doctor before beginning any vitamin regimen.