Did you know that you need vitamins daily?

Did you know that you need vitamins daily?

Saara Aarnio

Vitamins are chemical compounds which we need for the biochemical reactions in the body, such as regulating metabolism and supporting the function of enzymes. Thirteen of the vitamins are essential and we need to get them regularly in order to sustain health. All vitamins can be acquired from food but very few people eat in such a versatile way that the need of each vitamin is fulfilled every day. In addition, our bodies are strained by different life situations, such as stress, sadness, physically demanding work or hobby, environmental factors, long and dark winter, smoking and other drugs, genetic factors, the condition of the gut, malabsorption, pregnancy, breastfeeding and many other factors. All of these factors affect our need for vitamins.

In this article we go through all the vitamins that a human being needs. In addition, we go over their health claims accepted by the EU as well as in which foods you can get each vitamin.

Table of contents

1. Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins
2. The health claims of vitamins
3. Vitamin A
4. B vitamins
5. Vitamin C
6. Vitamin D
7. Vitamin E
8. Vitamin K
9. The prevention of deficiencies

1. Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamins are classified into water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and they require food which contains fat in order to absorb. This also applies to vitamins taken as supplements, so remember to take vitamin D with food which contains fat to optimize the absorption. B vitamins (thiamine or vitamin B1, riboflavin or vitamin B2, niacin or vitamin B3, pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, pyridoxine or vitamin B6, biotin or vitamin B7, folic acid/folate or vitamin B9 and cobalamin or vitamin B12) and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins don’t require fat in order to absorb. Therefore you can take for example vitamin C supplement with a glass of water first thing in the morning after waking up.

2. The health claims of vitamins

Since our online store operates under the Finnish Food Act, we are bound by the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the nutrition and health claims made on foods. Therefore we can present our customers only the accepted health claims listed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), even though it is general knowledge that vitamins have other health effects as well. Luckily for example libraries and Google Scholar are full of high-quality research in which anyone can learn more about the health effects of vitamins.

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient which is needed for example for normal sight, the defense mechanism of the body, embryogenesis and the growth and differentiation of cells.

Sources of vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which is effectively stored in the liver. Liver foods are one of the most important sources of vitamin A. In addition, vitamin A can be acquired from dairy, edible fats and eggs.

Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A so it converts to vitamin A in the body. Many vegetables are excellent sources of beta-carotene such as leafy green vegetables, red and orange fruits (tomatoes, oranges etc.), berries (rosehip, sea-buckthorn), sweet potato, carrot and many others. Vitamin A is added to certain margarines and juices. However, vitamin A supplements or liver foods are not recommended to pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A is expressed with a unit called retinol equivalent (RE). Various retinolia and precursors of vitamin A are retinol equivalents.

The minimum daily intake of vitamin A

  • for women 800 µg RE / day
  • for men 900 µg RE / day
  • during breastfeeding 1200 µg RE / day

The accepted health claims of vitamin A

  • Vitamin A contributes to normal iron metabolism
  • Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of normal mucous membranes
  • Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of normal skin
  • Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of normal vision
  • Vitamin A contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Vitamin A contributes to the differentiation process of cells

4. B vitamins

B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins which are needed in the body especially for energy metabolism, the renewal of cells and the function of the nervous system. Because B vitamins are water-soluble, they are not stored in the body (except for vitamin B12) so they need to be acquired regularly from food or supplements.

The sources of B vitamins

B vitamins can be acquired from bread and cereal products, meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, potatoes, fruits and berries.

The recommended daily intake of B vitamins

No specific recommendations for the daily intake of B vitamins have been established.

  • Vegans need to take vitamin B12 supplements because vitamin B12 can only be acquired from foods of animal origin. It has also been suggested that seniors and people with certain diseases (such as atrophic gastrite) should also take vitamin B12 supplements due to the weakened absorption of the vitamin.
  • Pregnant women and women who are planning to get pregnant (as well as women who are breastfeeding) should get 500 micrograms (µg) of folic acid per day.

The accepted health claims of B vitamins

Vitamin B1, thiamine

  • Thiamine contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Thiamine contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
  • Thiamine contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Thiamine contributes to the normal function of the heart

Vitamin B2, riboflavin

  • Riboflavin contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Riboflavin contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
  • Riboflavin contributes to the maintenance of normal mucus membranes
  • Riboflavin contributes to the maintenance of normal red blood cells
  • Riboflavin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin
  • Riboflavin contributes to the maintenance of normal sight
  • Riboflavin contributes to normal iron metabolism
  • Riboflavin contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
  • Riboflavin helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue

Vitamin B3, niacin

  • Niacin contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Niacin contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
  • Niacin contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Niacin contributes to the maintenance of normal mucus membranes
  • Niacin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin
  • Niacin helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue

Vitamin B4, choline

  • Choline contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism
  • Choline contributes to normal lipid metabolism
  • Choline contributes to the maintenance of normal liver

Vitamin B5, pantothenic acid

  • Pantothenic acid contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Pantothenic acid contributes to the normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and certain neurotransmitters
  • Pantothenic acid helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Pantothenic acid contributes to normal mental performance

Vitamin B6, pyridoxine

  • Vitamin B6 contributes to normal cysteine synthesis
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to normal protein and glycogen metabolism
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal formation of the red blood cells
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Vitamin B6 helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Vitamin B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity

Vitamin B7, biotin

  • Biotin contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Biotin contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
  • Biotin contributes to the normal metabolism of macronutrients
  • Biotin contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal hair
  • Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal mucus membranes
  • Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin

Vitamin B9, folic acid / folate

  • Folate contributes to the growth of tissue during pregnancy
  • Folate contributes to the normal amino acid synthesis
  • Folate contributes to the normal formation of blood cells
  • Folate contributes to the normal homocysteine metabolism
  • Folate contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Folate contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Folate helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Folate participates in the cell division process

Vitamin B12, cobalamin

  • Vitamin B12 contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
  • Vitamin B12 contributes to the maintenance of normal homocysteine metabolism
  • Vitamin B12 contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal formation of the red blood cells
  • Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Vitamin B12 helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Vitamin B12 participates in the cell division process

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin which contributes to the absorption of calcium and non-heme iron in the body and also acts as an antioxidant (preventing the oxidation of vitamins E and A and certain fatty acids). Vitamin C is also needed for the formation of collagen, certain hormones and the neurotransmitters of the nervous system and the absorption of vitamin B12 and folic acid. Vitamin C needs to be acquired from food daily because the body cannot produce it itself.

Sources of vitamin C

Natural sources of vitamin C are for example citrus fruits, berries (especially rosehip, sea-buckthorn and blackcurrant), nettle and vegetables, especially dark cabbage plants (broccoli and kale). Vitamin C is also added to foodstuff: its E numbers are E300 (ascorbic acid), E301 (sodium ascorbate) and E302 (calcium ascorbate).

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C

  • Adults min. 75 mg / day
  • Children min. 20-40 mg / day
  • Pregnant women min. 85 mg / day
  • Breastfeeding women min. 100 mg / day

Accepted health claims of vitamin C

  • Vitamin C contributes to the maintenance of normal immune system during and after heavy exercising
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal formation of collagen and for the normal function of blood vessels
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal formation of collagen for the normal function of the bones
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal formation of collagen for the normal function of cartilage
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal formation of collagen for the normal function of gums
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal formation of collagen for the normal function of skin
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal formation of collagen for the normal function of teeth
  • Vitamin C contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system
  • Vitamin C contributes to normal psychological functions
  • Vitamin C contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system
  • Vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
  • Vitamin C helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Vitamin C contributes to the return of vitamin E to its reduced state
  • Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a hormone-like, fat-soluble sterol molecule which prevents and cures rickets, for example. Vitamin D is formed on the skin as the result of UV radiation. Vitamin D needs to be acquired from food and supplements during the darker wintertime especially in the Nordics. Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium so vitamin D deficiency can cause osteoporosis.

Sources of vitamin D

Vitamin D can be acquired from food such as fish (e.g. pike perch, whitefish and baltic herring), fish oil, dairy (in which vitamin D has been added), eggs and wild mushrooms.

The official recommendation for the daily intake of vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for everyone but its sufficient intake is important especially for children, adolescents, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, vegans and elderly people. The official recommendations for the daily intake are generally considered as too low.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D

  • adults and children min 10 µg/day
  • people over 75 years min. 20 µg/day

The accepted health claims of vitamin D

  • Vitamin D contributes to the normal absorption and utilization of vitamin D and phosphore
  • Vitamin D contributes to the normal calcium level in the blood
  • Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones
  • Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle activity
  • Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal teeth
  • Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Vitamin D participates in the cell division process

7. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which is stored in the body. It is known as nature’s most powerful antioxidant which prevents cell damage by protecting the cell membranes. The antioxidant effect is based on its ability to neutralize free radicals. Vitamin E affects the blood cholesterol level and the immune system. The need of vitamin E can be increased as the result of dieting, illnesses, one-sided diet and heavy physical strain.

The sources of vitamin E

Good sources of vitamin E are for example whole grain products, broccoli, egg yolks, colorful fruits, vegetable oils, sunflower seeds and almonds.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin E

The recommended daily intakes of vitamin E are reported as the amount of tocopherol by milligrams.

The minimum daily intakes of vitamin E are:

  • For women 8 mg / day
  • For men 10 mg / day
  • For children 6-7 mg / day

The accepted health claims of vitamin E

  • Vitamin E contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
  • Vitamin C contributes to the return of vitamin E to its reduced state

8. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin which can be found from the plant and animal kingdom products – in plants as phylloquinone and in meat as menaquinone. The human gut can also produce menaquinone.

Sources of vitamin K

Sources of vitamin K include especially leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, basil, broccoli and kale, as well as vegetable oils, liver and eggs.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin K

Adults need approximately 1 microgram of vitamin K a day for each kilogram of their body weight.

The accepted health claims of vitamin K

  • Vitamin K contributes to the normal blood clotting
  • Vitamin K contributes to the maintenance of normal bones

9. The prevention of deficiencies

Health and wellbeing are the result of daily choices and the prevention of nutrient deficiencies. We at Arctic Pure want to encourage our customers to feel better through little daily actions.

We believe in balance in wellbeing: for example by adding something good to your diet each month some worse options will automatically disappear from the diet. Add for example one deciliter of berries to your morning porridge or enjoy nuts and fruits as snacks. You can also make one of your daily meals consisting of only vegetables. Every little deed matters, so you don’t need to make it anymore complicated than this. 💚

Do you believe that you get enough vitamins daily? A general recommendation is to eat at least a half a kilo of berries, fruits and vegetables every day. If your diet is one-sided and mainly consists of white flour products, processed foods, bad-quality fats, bananas and iceberg lettuce, you most likely don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from food. To get a better understanding of what actually is on your plate we recommend to keep a food diary for for example three days. If your diet doesn’t contain a half a kilo of berries, fruits and vegetables every day, think about what you could do to improve the situation. An easy way to add more vegetables to your diet is to change pasta, rice and potatoes to for example steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrot or dark lettuce. Another good way to increase berries and fruits to your diet is to make a habit of preparing a morning smoothie.

The internet is full of smoothie recipes but here is one easy and foolproof recipe:

  • half of a banana
  • 2 dl frozen berries, such as blueberries, lingonberries or blackcurrants
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 dl unflavored whey protein powder
  • 3 dl oat milk
  • 0,5 tsp psyllium

In case you feel like you can’t invest enough on your diet at the moment, we recommend taking at least a multivitamin supplement to support your daily diet.

In addition to diet we recommend to take a look at your lifestyle as a whole:

  • Do you exercise a lot with high intensity?
  • Do you regularly use intoxicants?
  • Do you suffer from continuous stress?

In case your answer was “yes” to some of these questions it is good to add a multivitamin product to your daily diet. Remember also to use vitamin D supplement during the darker time of the year.

 

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