Everyone knows that vitamins are an essential part of a healthy, balanced life. The ultimate goal is to eat foods that naturally supply our bodies with the vitamins and nutrients they crave. However, we don’t always achieve that daily, which means we utilize supplements to give us a vitamin-rich boost.

Vitamins not only pump-up our immune systems, they also keep our hearts happy and can even play an active role in preventing cancer. Yet popping vitamins every day has become such an integrated part of our society that many of us don’t know the basic fundamentals of vitamin consumption.

In fact, you’d be surprised what most people get completely wrong about their supplements.

So to help clarify this vitamin confusion, we’ve broken down the basics of what they do, which ones you need and what misconceptions most of us have.

The Fundamentals

Vitamins and minerals are sort of like your body’s own private army — they work together to heal, grow and maintain your cells and organs. A lack of these nutrients typically leads to exhaustion or illness, which is why their existence is so critical.

They play a key role in everything your body does, including your metabolism, heart health, bones and fertility. Each type of vitamin assists a different system.

The 411

So what vitamins and minerals do you need regularly? We’ve laid out what your body craves and where you can get them so you don’t have to consume 20 different kinds of supplements before breakfast.

B2, B6, B12 and Magnesium can be found in spinach, broccoli, beans, oats, fish, poultry and eggs.

A, C and E are mostly in fruits and vegetables.

D can be consumed through oily fish like Trout, cod oil or mushrooms.

K is typically seen in herbs and leafy greens.

Zinc is consumed through red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, pumpkin, seeds and oysters.

Beta carotene is in carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach and kale.

Folic Acid is in many foods, including asparagus, broccoli, lentils, avocado and okra.

Selenium can be found in meats, poultry and seafood, as well as Brazilian nuts and beans.

The Misconceptions

“I can eat what I want as long as I take my vitamins.” Supplements are in no way the solution to an unhealthy diet. All these vitamins and minerals must be combined with the appropriate amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc. in order to be effective. Plus, consuming a healthy diet means you naturally take in many of these vitamins and minerals.

“They can’t hurt you, they’re natural!” Actually, just because they’re natural and healthy doesn’t mean you can’t over do it. The old saying “too much of a good thing” is true here. The best way to ensure you’re taking a healthy amount of any vitamin, mineral or nutrimental supplement is by meeting with your doctor or healthcare provider.

“You can never have too many.” In order to obtain the optimal health benefits from vitamins, we need to be consuming the correct amount — no more. The truth is, if you take handfuls of vitamin C tablets to beat a cold, you could end up giving yourself cramps and diarrhea on top of the sniffles.

While vitamins and minerals are awesome, it’s imperative that we understand their purpose before we use them. Most supplements offer dosage advice on their packaging, but the best thing you can do is talk to a professional who can help guide you in the right direction.

After all, the right kind of supplements can fuel a healthy life. 

Hope it helps!

wenzelDr. Aaron Wenzel M.D.| Founder of Bariform