Vitamins for Survival
Eating the right balance of protein, carbs and fats is essential to maintaining good health, but you also need to get the proper amount of key vitamins.
Vitamins play a role in everything from your immune system function to muscle growth. Without an adequate consumption of essential vitamins, several health complications can develop. The bottom line is, getting enough of vitamins such as A, D, E and K are not only essential for your well-being, but essential for your survival.
VITAMIN A - FOR VISION AND OVERALL HEALTH
Vitamin A is one of the essential vitamins needed for survival. It helps the body in several ways. Vitamin A is needed to maintain healthy skin, tissues and teeth. It also makes the pigment in the retina and promotes good vision.
A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to eye problems, such as night blindness. It can also cause scaly, dry skin. In developed countries, vitamin A deficiency is uncommon since it is found in a variety of foods.
Sources of vitamin A include eggs, fortified cereals, orange and yellow fruits and veggies, along with most dark leafy greens, such as broccoli.
The recommended daily intake for males is 900 mcg/day and 700/day for females. The best way to get enough vitamin A is by eating a well-balanced diet.
VITAMIN D - THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Vitamin D is nicknamed the ‘’sunshine vitamin’’ because it can be made in the body after exposure to the sun. It might be surprising to find out that vitamin D occurs naturally in only a small number of foods, such as salmon, but it is also available in supplements and fortified dairy products and juices.
Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Both nutrients are required to maintain strong and healthy bones, but vitamin D also does a whole lot more.
Without adequate levels of vitamin D, your body cannot function at its full potential. Research has indicated that a deficiency of vitamin D can contribute to fertility problems, depression, birth defects and possibly even multiple sclerosis.
The recommended intake for adults under age 50 is 800 IU/daily and 1000 IU/daily for those over 50. If you don’t spend any time in the sun, be sure to pay attention to your daily intake.
VITAMIN E - THE ANTIOXIDANT
Vitamin E is considered an antioxidant. You may have heard of antioxidants, but what do they do? Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, help protect your body from damage due to free radicals. Free radicals are molecules or atoms, which can interfere with normal cell function and harm organs and tissues. It also helps your body fight bacteria and viruses that can make you sick. Vitamin E also helps the body utilise vitamin K, another essential vitamin.
A lack of vitamin E from a poor diet (although rare) can cause such complications as: Mild anemia, disorders related to reproduction and infertility, fragile red blood cells, a decrease in sex drive, muscle, liver, bone marrow and brain function abnormalities.
The recommended amount of vitamin E for men and women is 14/mg a day. Although supplements are available, the best way to get the right amount of vitamin E is by eating certain foods. Almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds are good sources of vitamin E, as well as vegetable oils and fortified breakfast cereals.
VITAMIN K - FOR YOUR BLOOD
There are different vitamin K compounds. The most critical are vitamin K1 and K2. Adequate levels of vitamin K are essential for your blood to clot normally. Vitamin K is found in abundance in leafy, green vegetables, such as spinach kale and parsley. Vitamin K is also made by the bacteria in your intestines, but people who take antibiotics long-term can kill healthy bacteria and decrease levels of vitamin K.
Deficiencies in vitamin K can mean decreased wound healing or in extreme cases, uncontrolled bleeding. Vitamin K may also play a role in bone density. The good news is vitamin K deficiencies are uncommon.
Most adult men need about 120 mcg a day of vitamin K, and women need 90 mcg daily. Vitamin K needs increase for women who are breastfeeding or pregnant. In addition to leafy greens, good sources of vitamin K include green tea, beef liver and cabbage.
Author: MaryAnn DePietro
Author Bio: A health and fitness writer with 13 years’ experience, MaryAnn has been extensively published in magazines, newspapers and websites. Her work has appeared on websites, such as Healthline, Symptom Find, Livestrong and Modern Moms. MaryAnn earned degrees in both respiratory therapy at American River College in Sacramento and rehabilitation education at Penn State University. MaryAnn lives in northern California where she trains for 10K marathons, plays golf and hangs out with her husband and son.