With so many vitamin and mineral supplements on the market, it can be confusing to know which ones are right for you. Help is at hand. Here we guide you through the essentials and explain why these key vitamins are so important. This includes dosages and supplement options.
Why are vitamins important?
If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably asking yourself why vitamins and minerals are important? And are they underrated?
When it comes to nutrition, we tend to focus on our macros (carbs, fats, protein) and the ways in which they can help us lose weight or gain mass. However, that often puts us in a position where we’re overlooking our micros. Even though the name might suggest otherwise, micronutrients are essential to the functioning of our bodies. Why?
Vitamins and minerals play a major role in our energy levels, immune system, overall growth and more. We simply refer to them as micronutrients because we need them in smaller amounts compared to macronutrients. But they’re equally important. Small but mighty.
What are the essential vitamins?
There are 13 essential vitamins that our body needs. Let’s take a look at the most important vitamins below:
Fundamental for maintaining healthy skin, tissues and boosting your immune system. You can find it in dairy products as well as yellow fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. That’s because they contain beta carotene that our body can convert into vitamin A.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Key antioxidant for collagen production and wound healing. Plus, it supports the immune system. You’ll find it in citrus fruits as well as broccoli, spinach, potatoes and berries. You can also get it as Vitamin C Powder.
The sunshine vitamin. Essential for calcium absorption, teeth and bone health. Our bodies need sunlight to make vitamin D, but with sun safety being a primary concern, deficiency is widespread. It can also be found in fish-liver oils and fortified foods (milk and healthy grains).
Another antioxidant that eliminates unstable molecules that can potentially damage other cells and protect fatty acids. We can find it in leafy greens, whole grains and nuts. Supplements like Vitamin E Softgels are a convenient way to up your intake.
Vitamin K is essential for blood coagulation. Without vitamin K our blood wouldn’t be able to change from liquid to gel form, which is necessary to stop excessive bleeding if a blood vessel is compromised.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Key for converting food into energy and maintaining a healthy metabolism, brain and nerve function. Pork, nuts, brown rice, grains and most nutritious foods contain it.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
It’s also important for energy production and maintaining healthy skin, vision, blood and brain. Dairy products, leafy greens and whole grains are a great source of this essential vitamin.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Also contributes to metabolising energy and supports psychological function. You’ll find it in legumes, lean meats and dairy products.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Supports our metabolism and hormone production. You’ll find this in a huge variety of foods including chicken, whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms and more. You may also like to try supplementing your diet with Vitamin B5 Powder.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
B6 helps to maintain brain function and supports the production of red blood cells, as well as promoting the metabolism of proteins and carbs. We can get Vitamin B6 from leafy greens, meat, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu and other soy products. There’s also potatoes, bananas and watermelons. We wouldn’t recommend eating these all in one meal.
Key for healthy skin and hair, Biotin helps to convert food into energy. You’ll find it in soybeans, egg yolks, whole grains and nuts.
Vitamin B8 (Inositol)
Inositol isn’t strictly a vitamin, although it is often referred to as vitamin B8. It is a type of sugar used in a variety of ways by your body. From being a key component of cell membranes, to moderating insulin function, to impacting the function of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy).
Vitamin B9 (folate)
This one is especially important for pregnant women as it’s fundamental for cell creation and tissue growth. You’ll find it in spinach, okra, chickpeas, asparagus, orange and tomato juice, broccoli and black-eyed peas (no, not the band).
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
This one’s found primarily in animal products, so it can be lacking in vegetarian and vegan diets. Vitamin B12 supports the creation of new cells and red blood cells and is important for the nervous system. You can find it in all animal products and fortified soya milk.
What is the most important vitamin to take daily?
There isn’t just one vitamin that is the most important to take daily – all vitamins, by their nature, are essential for our bodies to function properly. It depends entirely on your current diet and what deficiencies you might have. There are some areas where you might benefit from supplementation. If you’re vegan, for example, you might want to supplement vitamin D and vitamin B12. However, most people should be able to get the majority of their vitamins from their diet. It might be useful to take a look at your diet and see what areas you’re lacking in.
As with everything in your diet, it’s all about balance. You shouldn’t go overboard on dosage if you choose to supplement any vitamins. If you’re suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it will take time for your body to absorb the nutrients and feel the benefits once you start supplementing. Incrementing your intake overnight won’t make up for the imbalance instantly.
Remember to always follow the recommended dosage for each supplement you’re integrating. Exceeding that dosage can accentuate those very deficiencies you’d like to balance. For example, (1) shows that taking too much vitamin A over a long period of time may make our bones more fragile and prone to fractures.
What are the most important vitamins for building muscle?
Again, there isn’t a single vitamin that is important for muscle building. Every vitamin has its role in helping your body function well. However, some vitamins might be slightly more useful in the context of trying to build muscle.
Vitamin D is one of these – research suggests that it plays a role in improved muscle growth. For example, one study of healthy older men found that supplementing with vitamin D and leucine at breakfast enhanced muscle protein synthesis after the meal, as well as increased muscle mass after 6 weeks of supplementation. Remember, Vitamin D supplementation is especially important between October and March, when there’s less sunlight.
B vitamins in particular are key for supporting normal energy production – making sure you’re getting enough of them will help ensure you’ve got the energy you need to smash your workouts. On the flip side, not getting enough of them might have a negative effect on your workouts – one study showed that severe deprivation of vitamin B12 results in reduced endurance work performance.
Finally, since vitamin C plays such a vital role in collagen production, it therefore plays a role in keeping connective tissue healthy – including your tendons, which connect your muscle to your bone. By strengthening this connective tissue, your muscles should be able to continue to work hard (2)(3).
Are vitamin supplements necessary?
If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, taking supplements can allow you to get those essential vitamins and minerals that are primarily available from animal sources. It’s an easy and straightforward way of integrating your diet.
Even if you don’t have any specific dietary requirements, supplements are an effective way of covering multiple deficiencies at the same time. Plus, you’ll be definitely getting the correct amount of your vitamin of choice as the formulas are in line with daily nutritional requirements.
How are vitamin supplements taken?
We have a wide range of vitamin pills and capsules available, depending on what you find easiest. Pills are taken by swallowing them through the mouth. Some people like to sip water to help it go down.
If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy taking pills and capsules, enter our Vitamin Sprays. These might be easier for some people than swallowing pills or capsules, and ours have the added bonus of tasting great.
Studies have shown that vitamins in spray form are just as effectively absorbed as those in pill or capsule form, and in some instances are more effectively absorbed. So don’t worry about switching to a vitamin spray, if that’s what you find easiest (4)(5).
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