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Why Are Vitamins Essential?

Most multi-vitamins contain both vitamins and minerals. There are 13 essential vitamins and 16 essential minerals. Both are necessary for keeping your body functioning at it’s best. 

Your eyesight, bone strength, heart function, nervous system, digestion, metabolism, immune strength, and muscle development all depend on having enough vitamins and minerals in the right proportions. You can obtain them from food or supplements. Your body cannot make enough to function optimally. 

Water-soluble vitamins leave in your urine, so they need almost daily replenishment. These include your B and C vitamins. Eating the rainbow of raw or steamed fruits and veggies each day can help you meet your body’s needs. Boiling and baking, however, may decrease the nutrients. 

The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. The body stores these vitamins for days at a time, which is why avoiding excessive doses is so important. Here are some foods that contain each of these vitamins:

  • A: eggs, butter, carrots, milk, and cabbage
  • D: eggs, milk, fish, and fish oil
  • E: eggs, bananas, green vegetables, almonds, soy, wheat germ
  • K: leafy greens, tomatoes, lean beef, soy, and turnips 

While our 16 essential minerals are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, molybdenum, chromium, and fluoride, there are two where the common nutrition plan falls short: iron and calcium. 

  • Iron is commonly found in meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, as well as some enriched foods like whole-grain breads. 
  • Calcium is found in most dairy products, although it can also be found in tofu and greens like broccoli. There are many fortified foods like calcium-enriched juices and cereals too. 

A lack of vitamins and minerals can slow your metabolism, increase fatigue, and present a host of other symptoms from blurry vision to bizarre aches and pains. 

Overall, vitamins and minerals in optimal amounts for your dietary habits, age, gender, and activity level are absolutely essential

Like any health and nutrition plan, individualization leads to optimal health, wellness, and fitness. Your health care provider or a nutrition coach can help you craft an individualized vitamin supplement strategy. 

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About the Author: Dr. Meredith Butulis is a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Certified Nutrition Coach in practice since 2002. She consistently walks the talk as a fitness, physique, and OCR world level competitor and lifestyle transformer since 2006, celebrating many wins along the way. 

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