If you are one of the more than two-thirds of American adults who regularly take nutritional supplements, bravo! You are likelier to have better dietary habits and an overall healthier lifestyle than nonusers. Surveys show that dietary supplement users are making concerted efforts to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, avoid tobacco products and improve their nutrient intake, all of which contribute to a healthier way of life. Evidence suggests that those who take dietary supplements as a part of their wellness plan are adopting positive lifestyle strategies that contribute to overall vitality and healthy aging.
According to surveys conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the majority take supplements to maintain or improve overall health, support bone and joint health and ensure adequate nutrient intake. Additionally, supplement users are seeking to prevent future health problems, boost immunity, improve digestion, reduce stress, enhance sleep and increase energy production. Why are sufficient amounts of micronutrients so important to our health, and how do vitamins, minerals and enzymes support your wellbeing?
Let’s start at the beginning with vitamins A, B and C:
Vitamin A is actually a group of retinoids that include retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A is stored, largely by the liver, until needed. Naturally present in many foods, “preformed” vitamin A, found in animal tissues can be directly used by the body, while “provitamin A” carotenoids, found in fruits and vegetables, require conversion by the body into a bioavailable form for utilization. Sufficient amounts of vitamin A are essential for:
- Vitamin A is necessary for regulating the growth and formation of all bodily cells. It’s needed for cellular communication and cellular differentiation, the ability of cells to specialize and perform their various functions.
- Vitamin A is essential to embryonic and fetal development of the limbs, heart, eyes and ears, and is crucial to the proper development and maintenance of a range of organ systems.
- Vitamin A supports the normal development and function of the immune system, and aids the production and efficacy of lymphocytes, white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infections and defend against disease.
- Vitamin A is critical to retinal health, function and proper vision, especially low light vision. Studies have shown that, as an antioxidant, vitamin A may help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and may help slow the progression of the disease to preserve vision.
- Vitamin A helps to form and maintain healthy skin, tissues and teeth. Vitamin A supports the skin and mucous membranes that line the intestines, airways and urinary tract, assisting immune health by providing a more effective barrier against pathogens, bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin B consists of a group of 8 distinct water-soluble vitamins, often working in synergy, yet each performs unique functions. With the exception of B-12, B complex vitamins are not stored, requiring daily replenishment to support wellbeing. As multitaskers, B vitamins promote wellness by supporting cognitive functions, healthy mood, energy production and cardiac health.
- Thiamine – Vitamin B1 acts as an antioxidant and has a positive effect on digestion, energy, growth, nerve cell health, carbohydrate metabolism, and cognition.
- Riboflavin – Vitamin B2 supports red blood cell formation, antibody production, cell respiration, and metabolism of fats, carbs and protein. B2 also helps to prevent cataracts, facilitates oxygen use in the tissues and aids the absorption of iron, B6 and other nutrients.
- Niacin – Vitamin B3 is necessary for proper nervous system function, energy production, digestion, macro nutrient metabolism, and sex hormone synthesis. Niacin supports circulatory health and helps to lower cholesterol.
- Pantothenic acid – Vitamin B5 aids in energy, adrenal hormone and neurotransmitter production, vitamin utilization, and antibody formation. B5 also enhances stamina and supports mood and normal functioning of the GI tract.
- Pyridoxine – Vitamin B6 is a busy little nutrient required for physical and mental health. It helps to maintain fluid balance, aids digestion and absorption of nutrients, and promotes red blood cell formation. B6 is necessary for nervous system and brain function, for cellular growth, and for the synthesis of RNA and DNA.
- Methylcobalamin – Vitamin B12 is a chemically complex group of essential nutrients known as cobalamins, which play critical roles in protein and DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation and healthy nervous system function. B12 is necessary for proper digestion, absorption and metabolism of nutrients.
- Biotin – Vitamin B6 aids cell growth, metabolism of nutrients and utilization of other B complex vitamins. Biotin supports healthy hair, skin, nails, bone marrow and nerve and muscle tissue.
- Folate – Vitamin B9, also called folic acid is very important before and during pregnancy as it helps to regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation, which happens very early in pregnancy. Folate supports brain health, energy production, red and white blood cell production, and healthy cell division and replication.
Along with a multivitamin/mineral complex, water soluble, highly effective antioxidant Vitamin C is the most consumed nutritional supplement. Necessary for tissue growth and repair, collagen formation, adrenal function and wound healing, vitamin C must be obtained through the diet or supplementation.
- Required for hundreds of metabolic functions, vitamin C works synergistically with other nutrients such as folic acid, beta carotene and vitamin E.
- Vitamin C aids the formation and maintenance of bones and connective tissue, blood vessels and skin.
- Recent studies show that vitamin C benefits cardiovascular health by reducing oxidative damage and lowering inflammation, seen as key to protecting against cardiovascular disease and the progression of atherosclerosis.
- Vitamin C is believed to be cancer-protective by its abilities to fight free radicals and reduce cellular DNA damage. Vitamin C binds to heavy metals, aiding their elimination from the body, and helps to neutralize the effects of nitrate preservatives found in some processed foods.
- By enhancing the absorption of iron, vitamin C helps the strengthen the body’s resistance to infection. Vitamin C supports healthy immune function by stimulating foreign invader fighting white blood cells, and protecting the integrity of immune cells.
- Vitamin C has a positive effect on overall cholesterol levels, helping to raise HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Vitamin C aids in the management of H. pylori, a stomach acid-resistant bacteria that causes gastric distress and stomach ulcers.
Professional Supplement Center carries many quality brands that provide vitamins A, B and C:
Vitamin A 25,000 IU by Vital Nutrients – One capsule provides 25,000 IU of vitamin A, sourced from fish liver oil, in support of proper immune function, vision health and the maintenance of skin and mucous membranes.
Vitamin A 25,000 IU by Thorne Research – This high potency, stand-alone source of vitamin A provides support for healthy vision, cellular development and immune health. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Active B complex by Integrative Therapeutics – This product provides a full complement of bioavailable B vitamins in support of neurotransmitter production, healthy mood, energy production, and overall wellness. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.
B Complex Plus by Pure Encapsulations – This popular product provides optimal bioavailable forms of all eight B vitamins in support of energy metabolism, nervous system function, hormone synthesis and a healthy GI tract. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Buffered Vitamin C Powder by Designs for Health – This non-acidic vitamin C, buffered with calcium, magnesium and potassium, is formulated for support of immune health, adrenal function, collagen formation and cardiovascular health. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Liposomal Vitamin C by NuMedica – One teaspoon provides 1,000 mg of vitamin C delivered in phosphatidylcholine liposomes for optimal absorption and bioavailability in support of immune health, antioxidant protection and healthy collagen and connective tissue production. Gluten and soy free, vegetarian formulation.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. Penguin Group 2010.
Health habits and other characteristics of dietary supplement users: a review. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-14
Vitamin A – http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-A
Three Forms of Vitamin A Found in the Body. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/three-forms-vitamin-found-body-9563.html
What Does Vitamin A Support? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/vitamin-support-3037.html
Vitamin A and the developing embryo. http://pmj.bmj.com/content/77/910/489.full
The Benefits of B Complex. http://dailyburn.com/life/health/benefits-vitamin-b-complex/
Vitamin C. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02811/facts-on-vitamin-c