Vitamins: What Are They and Why Do We Need Them?
Vitamins, nutrients, minerals, macros... We’ve all heard these terms but many of us don’t know the difference between them or what the heck they’re for! What most of us do know is that we need them for our bodies to work the right way and to feel our best.
We get most of our nutrients from food, because our bodies don’t make them—or can’t make enough of them for us to be strong and healthy. But what exactly are they and what happens if you don’t get enough? Can you get too much? Here’s a quick nutrition 101 to get those questions answered!
First up, macronutrients. Macronutrients, also called “macros”, refer to the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your food. All food consists of different amounts of these components. Macronutrients are what gives your body energy, also known as calories (here at VitaMomClub, we prefer the term energy!).
Food also contains micronutrients, which are the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body running smoothly. Without them, you may end up with nutritional deficiencies, which can interrupt growth and cause some serious health conditions. Each nutrient has specific jobs and each one is very important for different parts of your body. For example, Vitamin C helps hold parts of your body together, while some minerals, like calcium, help with bone health.
Can I get everything I need from food?
While getting most of your nutrition from a variety of food choices is recommended, vitamin and dietary supplements are exactly that—supplements to your nutrition from food. They are especially important if you’re deficient in nutrients, or if there’s a possibility of being deficient in nutrients due to your eating style, where you live, or different health conditions.
Does ‘‘getting too much of a good thing” really apply when it comes to vitamins and minerals?
Sometimes it can. Our bodies are usually able to get rid of most water-soluble vitamins (Vitamin C and all of the B Vitamins) when we get too much, but very high doses can sometimes cause problems long-term. Fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamins A, D, E, and K, have a higher risk of vitamin toxicity because they stay in our body’s tissues. Minerals can be toxic in high amounts as well, especially in children.
But, not to worry! Vitamin and mineral toxicities are not very common and taking supplements is ‘Generally Regarded As Safe’, or GRAS, by the FDA (GRAS means that a group of experts agreed that a particular product is safe when used per manufacturer instructions).
Bottom line, supplements are a great, safe way to support overall health and nutrition! Remember to always check with your healthcare provider about taking supplements and to keep them in a safe place, away from children.