Are We Getting Enough Vitamins?
“Eat more whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables!” Most of us have probably heard that line from someone we love; trying to remind us to include more vitamins in our daily diet. Indeed vitamins can be found in many natural food sources that we eat. However, most Singaporeans do not eat enough fruit and vegetables – a recent survey carried out by Health Promotion Board showed that only a quarter of teenagers in Singapore were consuming enough fruit and vegetables.
In addition to that, cooking of our food results in a loss of vitamins. Exposure to heat, light or air will alter the vitamins found naturally in food, and cooking methods that involve water normally further reduces the content of vitamin left in the food.
The types of food that Singaporeans eat are also constantly changing. With the increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, processed food is rising fast in its popularity amongst Singaporeans due to its convenience. Studies have shown that processing can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of food. Blanching, milling and extrusion which are some processes involved in manufacturing processed food normally results in the loss of vitamins. If the trend of consuming processed food continues to rise, this would suggest that the amount of vitamins we get from our diet would be on a downward trend as well.
When Does Our Body Require More Vitamins?
Our body demands for additional micronutrients in situations such as during trauma or stress, just to state a few. Doctors and pharmacists alike often suggest the supplementation of vitamins during these situations to aid in the recovery process.
Vitamins are also commonly recommended by healthcare professionals to special populations such as children and the elderly. Growing children often require certain amount of nutrients greater than that of a normal adult to ensure proper growth. With the possible change in diet and the absorption capacity of micronutrients in elderly, multivitamins supplementation may be necessary to ensure optimal intake of these micronutrients.
What are Vitamins for?
Vitamins are classified as fat-soluble or water-soluble, depending on where these vitamins are stored in our body. Here, we will discuss the benefits of some vitamins and how they help us to stay healthy and function properly!
(Do you know? Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in our fat stores for up to 6 months!)
Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, nails, hair and vision. It also promotes growth and repair; and protects us against infection.
Vitamin D is important for helping our body to absorb calcium and phosphorous, and hence indirectly helping in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it helps to regulate some hormones and boost healthy nervous and immune systems.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which plays an important role in protecting our fats, cell membranes and enzymes against damage.
Vitamin K is necessary to ensure normal blood clotting, bone metabolism and kidney functions.
(Do you know? Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in our body, and any excess will be lost through our sweat, urine, etc.!)
Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B2 is required for promoting carbohydrate metabolism and normal digestion. It is also needed to support healthy growth, skin, hair, muscles, blood and nervous system.
Vitamin B6 is needed in the metabolism of carbohydrate and protein. It also plays a crucial role in the formation of our red blood cells and regulation of some hormones in our body.
Vitamin B9 is important for proper spine formation of babies; therefore an essential vitamin for pregnant ladies. It also plays a role in red blood cells formation.
Vitamin B12 is necessary for food metabolism, red blood cells formation and maintenance of healthy nerves.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen formation; hence promoting healthy skin, hair, gums and bones. It functions as an antioxidant to boost our immunity and prevent tissue damage. It is often taken together with iron as it promotes the absorption of iron.
Are Vitamins Really Essential?
A healthy and balanced diet cannot be replaced by vitamin supplements. However, to help us bridge the nutrition gaps during times of our unbalanced lifestyle or stress, we can choose multivitamins as a hassle-free method to help supplement our diet. Especially in the children and elderly population, it may even be more challenging for them to obtain sufficient micronutrients from food sources alone. Therefore, vitamin supplements help to support our overall general well-being and optimize our daily performance.
Consult your doctor, pharmacist or dietitian now for more advice on what type of vitamin supplements suits you best!