A vitamin is an organic compound that we humans need in small amounts. The majority of the vitamins that we consume will come from the food that we eat, yet it is possible to take vitamin supplements.
Why are vitamins important?
Vitamins have several important functions, such as helping our body fight against illnesses and infections that we may experience. They help to ensure that our immune system is working properly and that our skin is healthy.
They are very important in ensuring that we are kept in good health. There are two main types of vitamins: Water-soluble and Fat-soluble. They are both very important as they do different things.
Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin B and C are dissolved in our bodily fluids. We cannot store these, which means that it is incredibly important we keep up our supply of these types of vitamins. We need to ensure that we keep up the amount of vitamins in our body.
Fat-soluble vitamins, so A, D, E and K are stored in our body's fat. This means that they can be stored and transported around the body.
Below is a list of vitamins that we need.
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
- Folic Acid (Folate)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Each of these vitamins will provide different things for the body. For example, vitamin b1 is responsible for releasing energy from carbohydrates. This is why it is so important that you establish a healthy and balanced diet because these vitamins come from such diets.
Vitamins good for the immune system
Knowing that vitamins are good for the immune system, it is important to consider what type of vitamins are best for improving the immune system and keeping it healthy.
Vitamin C - This is the best vitamin for boosting your immune system. It is very important that you ensure you get the recommended daily intake of vitamin C as consuming too little can actually cause the opposite and reduce the workings of your immune system, thus making you sick.
Your body cannot produce or store vitamin C, so it is important that we consume foods that can supply this for us. With that being said, it is in a lot of foods, so ensuring our intake is provided shouldn't be a problem.
Vitamin B(6) - This vitamin is responsible for supporting the reactions of the immune system. Like vitamin C, it is found in a lot of foods, making it an easily consumable vitamin.
Vitamin E - This is an antioxidant that is good for helping the body fight off infections, contributing to the effectiveness of your immune system.
How much vitamins is too much?
Knowing how many vitamins we need can be difficult, but there are some recommended daily intakes that are used as guidelines. However, exceeding the recommended daily intake of vitamins is when research suggests that you are getting too much of the vitamin.
For vitamin A, it is suggested that men get around 0.7mg and women should get around 0.6mg. This can come from food sources such as eggs, dairy and fish (oily).
For the variety of vitamin B's, they will have their own recommended intake, but it is thought that you should have around 100mg of B-Complex vitamins a day.
For vitamin C, the amount is the same for both men and women. It is estimated that they should have around 40mg a day.
For vitamin D, you should have around 10 micrograms. This is a very small amount and can be found in food sources, such as fish (oily), red meat and eggs.
For vitamin E, men need 4mg and women need 3mg. This can be found in food sources such as nuts, seeds and types of plant oils.
Exceeding these daily limits means that you are getting too much of said vitamin. There are side effects that can come with getting too much of a particular vitamin. For example, getting too much vitamin C can cause nausea, diarrhoea and in some cases stomach cramps.
If you think you are getting too many vitamins, speak to your doctor. Additionally, with vitamin supplements being a thing, it is becoming increasingly common to take too many vitamins.
What are the vitamins you can overdose on?
To put it in simple terms, yes you can overdose on vitamins. However, this does not necessarily mean that you overdose in the way that it is commonly referred to. Consuming too many vitamins can cause them to actually become harmful to your health instead.
You are able to have fairly easy access to vitamin supplements and because it is often pushed by media that vitamins are important, we sometimes take it upon ourselves to buy and take supplements. If we know that we have a vitamin deficiency, discovered by doctors or nutritionists, then taking supplements can be extremely beneficial.
These supplements that are taken will not cause us to go over the daily recommended amount. However, with that being said it is possible to take too many and consume much more vitamins than we actually need. When this happens, it is classed as an overdose on vitamins. These can then cause problems within your body. Though no vitamin should be taken in large quantities, the following vitamins have known side effects.
Overdosing on vitamin A can result in issues such as hair loss, damage to the liver, headaches (which can range from mild to severe), blurred vision, dry skin and vomiting. The NHS website notes that if you take too much vitamin A over long periods of time, you are more inclined to have issues with your bones, meaning that they are more likely to fracture as you get older.
Overdosing on vitamin D can cause constipation, frequent urination, abnormal heart rhythms and weakness in the muscles.
Overdosing on vitamin E can mess with your body's ability to clot blood.
Overdosing on B vitamins can result in nerve damage, jaundice and nausea.
With that being said, consuming too many vitamins through food is unlikely to cause any of the abovementioned symptoms, even if you are consuming them in high volumes. Though, you should still aim for the recommended amount. The issue with overdosing comes in the form of taking too many supplements.
What are the Vitamins that you should not take together?
In some areas, such as the United States, supplements, such as vitamins are not regulated and as such, they do not come with instructions. This means it is incredibly important that you do your research before you take them or consult your doctor.
Below, we have conducted some research to find which vitamins you should avoid taking together.
Folic Acid and B12
If you are taking folic acid, it can prevent you from being able to notice any symptoms that relate to B12 deficiency. A way to avoid this is to contact your doctor and ask them to verify your vitamin levels so that you are able to actively implement the right vitamin supplement.
Vitamins E and K
If you are prescribed vitamin K to help with blood clotting, then taking vitamin E at the same time can be dangerous due to vitamin E leading to increased bleeding for some people. You do not want to take vitamins that are going to conflict with your prescribed supplements.
How are vitamins made?
Vitamins can come from plants or animal products, but they can also be produced in a laboratory.
When produced in a laboratory, vitamins will be synthesized from other sources. For example, vitamin A from acetone or vitamin C from keto acid. For vitamins found in plants, you can consider vitamin C coming from spinach. In terms of those that come from animal products, you can find vitamin A in fish oil.
Note that there is no difference in the vitamins that have been produced in a laboratory and those that have been sourced from plants and animal products. This means that there are no chemical differences.
A vitamin that is made in a laboratory will often contain additives that are added in the manufacturing process. This helps to control how the body will accept the pill and it will help the vitamin break down once you have ingested it. This can vary depending on the colour of the tablet, the flavour and how quickly or slowly the tablet will be absorbed by the body.
Vitamins will go through a manufacturing process that first involves a preliminary check where the manufacturer will purchase the raw vitamins and ingredients from another distributor, this should include an Analysis Certificate which states what the vitamins are. With that being said, the manufacturer will also run their own safety tests.
The next step involves pre-blending. In the instance that raw vitamins are not delivered in a fine powder, they will have to be finely granulated by being put through a mill that grinds the vitamins.
The third step involves wet granulation. A tabletting machine will require a certain formula in order for it to successfully create a vitamin tablet. This depends on the particle size. In the instance, this isn't correct the wet granulation step will allow the vitamin powder to be mixed with cellulose particles and then wetted.
This mixture will then be dried in a dryer and turned into chunks. These chunks will then be run through a mill and forced into a small hole that is desired.
Mixing and Weighing is the step that follows. The vitamin ingredients are weighed on a scale and this ensures that the right amount is placed into the mixer. This will be mixed for around 15 to 30 minutes. Once the mixtures have been successfully mixed, it progresses onto the next step of the encapsulating machine.
Here, the machine will measure the correct amount of mixture that is needed for each capsule and tamping pins will push the powder down into the capsule and fill both sides.
After this step, the closed capsules will run through a polishing machine and put through soft brushes that polish the capsule. They are fully inspected and they must pass inspection before they can be packaged.
The vitamins will go through various machines and no human will touch them from this point as they are counted by the machine and put either into a package or a bottle. They are finally placed into boxes, ready to be distributed.
What vitamins do you get from the sun?
The best source of getting vitamin D is through the sun. When your skin is exposed to the sun your body will make vitamin D from cholesterol by the ultraviolet B rays in the sun hitting the cholesterol in the cells from your skin. This in turn provides energy for vitamin D synthesis.
This is the best and most efficient way of getting vitamin D, since it is only found in a small amount of foods and you may not be wanting to use supplements. Some examples of food you can find it in are:
- Cod Liver Oil
- Canned Tuna
- Beef Liver
- Egg Yolk
With that being said, you would need to eat these pretty much every day in order to get just enough vitamin D. This is why it is often recommended that you get enough daylight and sun. The best recommended time to go out in the sunlight is midday during the summer months.
This is because the sun is at the highest point on that day and the rays are the most intense, ensuring that you are getting the most out of your vitamins whilst spending as little time in the sunlight as possible.
Note that there are dangers that come with getting too much sunlight. This can be any of the following:
- Damage to your eyes
- Types of skin cancer
- Changes in your skin and ageing
To avoid most of these potential causes, ensure that you are wearing sun cream and prevent going out in high temperatures unprotected.