What Vitamins Should I Take? Everything You Didn’t Know About Vitamins
You’re cruising through the aisle at the grocery store.
Your cart is full of good, high-quality food: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, multi-grain bread, and milk.
You’re trying to keep yourself and your family happy and healthy, and it shows.
But how can you be sure that your food is giving you all of the vitamins and nutrients that you need? Can you get everything you need through just your daily diet?
As you approach the pharmacy section of the store, you find yourself wondering: what vitamins should I take?
You’re in luck, my friend. Your days of wandering and wondering are over. Read on to discover not only what vitamins you should take but how to know when you’re getting enough, what will happen if you get too much, and how you can include these vitamins in your everyday life with ease.
What Vitamins Should I Take?
Your foods and drinks are full of vitamins, but just because you try and eat balanced meals doesn’t mean you’re necessarily getting everything your body craves. Check out this list of the 16 most important vitamins for your body to learn exactly how to make yourself and your family as healthy as possible without breaking the bank in supplements.
Ever since your mom told you to finish your milk you’ve known that calcium was an important nutrient. But it does more than just keep your bones strong, and it comes in more than just milk.
In terms of “what vitamins should I take,” calcium is a big one. There is more calcium in your body than any other nutrient, and you risk more than a broken wrist if you aren’t getting enough.
Whether you’re pouring milk over your morning cereal or eating legumes and leafy green veggies with dinner, you’re helping your body by giving it the calcium it needs. Calcium does strengthen your bones, but it also helps your blood clot properly and keeps your muscles moving and strong.
In addition to traditional dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk, seeds (especially poppy seeds and chia seeds) are full of calcium. Beans, lentils, almonds, and rhubarb all pack a calcium punch, too.
No, fiber isn’t just for old people.
Everyone needs fiber, and yes, it will help keep you regular.
But getting plenty of fiber could also decrease the possibility of heart disease and lower your cholesterol. And who doesn’t want that?
In terms of fiber-rich foods, you’ve got your traditional broccoli and other dark green veggies, but wheat, bread, and nuts will also up that fiber content. Try making a banana-kale smoothie for breakfast or spreading some hazelnut spread on that multigrain toast. Your body will be feeling smoother in no time.
Yep. One you probably haven’t heard of.
Don’t sweat it, though. Even if you have no idea what folate is or how you get it, you might be consuming it just fine. Folate is a B-vitamin that helps your body make red and white blood cells and produce DNA and RNA. It’s a pretty big deal.
If you’re eating or drinking something with folic acid, you’re getting your folate. It’s especially important for babies, adolescents, and pregnant women to get enough folates, so if you fall into one of those categories, pay special attention to this one. But if you’re reading this as a baby, you’re probably doing just okay on your own.
To add some folates to your diet before jumping on the supplement wagon, try adding more nuts (especially peanuts) and dark leafy greens to your diet. See how those leafy greens come up a lot? Maybe just add more of those, period.
Iron does help your cells develop and use energy, though, and if you’re anemic, you know the effects of low iron all too well. Not getting enough iron can make you dizzy, tired, headache-y… it’s not great.
Before you start popping those iron pills, though, try eating some spinach. Or tofu. Or apples or carrots or eggs. Sprinkle anything and everything with some nuts, and you should be good to go.
Getting a lot of muscle cramps during leg day and wondering, what vitamins should I take to fix this?
Magnesium is your answer. As the fourth most present mineral in your body, magnesium is a big deal. Getting enough magnesium is essential to keeping your bones strong, maintaining good blood pressure, and reducing the occurrence of muscle cramps.
To up that magnesium, eat some beans or lentils or peas (AKA pulses), or double down on those leafy greens. A salad sounds pretty good, right?
These guys know what’s up.
Potassium, found in bananas among other foods, will help keep your body strong and metabolizing properly. It will also help you feel better after a stroke, and it will potentially prevent you from even having one in the first place.
There’s a great big list of potassium-rich foods, so if you’re not into bananas, you’re okay. Try some prunes instead, or some potatoes or orange juice. Dairy also has a lot of potassium, as do fish and meat. And you can’t go wrong with spinach.
This one gets a little tricky.
Sodium is an essential nutrient for your body — it regulates your blood and helps in brain development and fluid regulation — but too much of a good thing isn’t any good.
There is a pretty well-established link between sodium and high blood pressure, but everyone’s body is a little bit different. If you are sensitive to salt or have a family history of high blood pressure, you might want to watch how much you consume. However, if you’re generally healthy, the recommended daily dosage of sodium is about 1500 milligrams.
Processed foods, snack foods, and straight-up table salt are all good ways to get your daily sodium allotment but don’t overdo it. Fish, meat, and poultry all have high levels of sodium, too.
The “ayes” have it.
Vitamin A will boost your immune system and will also keep your eyes healthy and happy. When you’re trying to determine how much Vitamin A you’re really getting, think about the color yellow.
Yellow fruits and carrots and eggs and butter all have high levels of Vitamin A, so stick with those bananas and lemons, and you should be seeing clearly.
Vitamin B1, AKA thiamine, helps your body use carbs as energy. In our world that has become pretty hateful to carbs as of late, this is a big deal.
Thiamine is found in milk and eggs, but also in legumes and kidney beans. The next time you’re staring down your serving of beans, remember that it’s helping your morning bagel become your afternoon run.
Love shack, anyone?
Vitamin B2 (AKA riboflavin) will help you out. It helps your body process carbs and proteins, but also keeps your skin and your eyes in good health. Your nerve tissues will also thank you for keeping that riboflavin up.
Eat some wheat, nuts, or cereals to boost that Vitamin B2, or keep your intake of eggs and milk nice and consistent.
So many Bs.
But in the case of your health and what vitamins you should take, that’s a good thing.
Vitamin B6 (AKA pyridoxine) is used in your body to absorb and metabolize amino acids. It also helps to form red blood cells. So yeah, pretty important.
In addition to your standbys like spinach and fish and wheat, bananas and carrots also contain a big helping of Vitamin B6. Eggs and poultry will also do the trick.
It’s the last of the Bs, but it’s certainly not the least.
Vitamin B12, AKA cobalamin, helps create DNA and brings red blood cells, proteins, and nucleic acid together in the body. It’s traditionally found only in animal products, but some modern foods are fortified with B12 to help non-meat-eaters avoid a nasty type of B12 anemia.
Look for the B12 fortified label, or eat some animal products (fish, eggs, butter, meat, poultry, etc.). Need an excuse to eat that steak? Here it is.
Finally, back to one we all know.
But vitamin C isn’t just in orange juice, and it won’t only help you when you’re sick.
Vitamin C will help you grow big and strong, maintain healthy teeth, and keep your immune system in top condition, sick or not.
You’ve got plenty of vitamin C in your standard oranges, but look for it in tomatoes, potatoes, and even guavas and papayas, too. And yes, there is vitamin C in leafy green vegetables.
Collaboration is the name of the game here, folks.
Vitamin D helps your body use the calcium and phosphorus picked up by other foods. Without it, you’ll be in trouble.
And, unlike most of the other vitamins, you should make sure you get, you don’t have to consume vitamin D through your mouth. If you lack vitamin D, go outside and get some rays! Just remember sunscreen.
If it’s the dead of winter and you haven’t seen the sun in months, though, you’ve got some options. Eat fish or take some fish oil pills, or put some butter on that egg toast. The yolks are the vitamin D heavy part of the egg, though, so skip the egg whites for a couple of mornings, okay?
Vitamin E will help you build strong muscles, but that’s not where it ends. Vitamin E will also help boost your immune system, and it will help protect your cells from compounds (like cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light) that would damage them.
You can’t just step into the sunlight to get vitamin E, but you can eat butter and eggs. Corn is also a big holder of vitamin E, as are nuts, tomatoes, and, you guessed it, leafy green vegetables.
These aren’t all the vitamins and minerals in the world, just the ones that answer the question “what vitamins should I take” the best.
Vitamin K will help your blood clot so that paper cut doesn’t turn into a giant gushing mess of blood loss. It’s a pretty good deal, but the paper cut will still be annoying, sorry.
Can you guess where you’ll find vitamin K in addition to egg yolks, fish, veggie oil, and legumes?
Yep. Leafy green vegetables.
The Moral of the Story
Eat more leafy green vegetables. Nearly every single vitamin on this list can be supplemented and provided by leafy green vegetables, so check them out. In a smoothie, in a salad, in an omelet — the sky is the limit.
Your mom was right: eat your vegetables. But you don’t have to be sad about it. Just think about all the good those leafy greens are doing for your body, and before you know it, you’ll be begging for more.
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