In an increasingly health-conscious world, it's not enough to go to the gym anymore. You also have to eat healthy, stop your bad habits, and confront the dubious world of fads. Juices, cleanses, spinning -- where does it end? Something that might fall by the wayside is vitamins. Vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, and therefore have to be consumed through diet. But how important are vitamins? It's a good idea to get your essential vitamins, especially if you can do so through food. However, sometimes healthy foods aren't within reach, so taking supplements may help us get our daily doses. But how are you supposed to figure out what's right for you? What does it mean to be vitamin deficient?
Vitamin deficiency is "a state or condition resulting from the lack of or inability to use one or more vitamins." Different vitamin deficiencies can cause a whole host of problems. Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, for example, can lead to a weakening of the bones. Iron deficiencies commonly lead to anemia.
According to Tricia L. Psota, PhD, nutrient deficiencies help with vital processes including enzyme function and metabolism, and our deficiencies can limit our "optimal growth, development, and function."
Here are some of the most common vitamin deficiencies and how to know if you should start taking supplements or varying your diet. If you're lactose intolerant or vegan, you may be more at risk for developing these deficiencies, so listen up.
Vegans and vegetarians have a lot of trouble getting their B12. It's a vitamin found in meat and dairy products. B12 is responsible for forming DNA and red blood cells. A deficiency in B12 can lead to anemia, and also other symptoms including weakness, shortness of breath, and depression.
Iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin, a protein that aids in the delivery of oxygen to your red blood cells. An iron deficiency may also lead to anemia, which makes you feel tired and weak. You may have an iron deficiency if you feel exhaustion, look pale, and have headaches.
Folic acid is a type of vitamin B. If you drink too much and don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, you may have a folic acid deficiency. If you don't want to take a supplement, you can find folate in foods such as beans, citrus, and whole grains.
When we think of potassium, we probably think of bananas. Potassium deficiency especially occurs in people with eating disorders or other absorption disorders. Potassium is an important vitamin to maintain blood pressure via the heart. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 4,700 milligrams a day.
Magnesium is strongly linked to foods with fiber, including vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Magnesium is used to combat high blood pressure and can actually be linked to treatment for ADHD, anxiety, and migraines.
Perhaps our most popular vitamin, Vitamin D helps our bones and can be absorbed into our bodies through the sun. However, it's important to limit the skin's sun exposure, so a supplement can be a good option to be sure you're maintaining healthy levels. Vitamin D helps support cardiovascular health.
To absorb calcium, your body needs Vitamin D. Calcium builds strong bones! But what about those of us that are lactose-intolerant or dairy-free? Not a problem. A supplement or calcium-fortified foods and beverages can be the solution. Try soy products or milk substitutes.
Don't lose out on the nutrients your body needs! Vitamins can be often overlooked in the the era of health fads, but they remain a vital part of our success in body and in mind!