What Do Vitamins Do for the Body?

Marion Chamberlain Health Guide
  • As Hippocrates stated over 2,500 years ago: "Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food." I decided to take his advice 5 years ago. I used to be one of those individuals who popped about 20 vitamins a day. I grew up with a grandmother who worked in a vitamin store in the 70's and 80's as vitamins weren't as mainstream as they are today.


    Visits to granny's meant receiving a bag of candy, as well as our own bottles of chewable multi-vitamins and vitamin C. I followed my grandmother's example until I realized that the monthly spending was getting a tad out of hand, and a friend who worked in the health care field told me that I was contributing to the contamination of water (if you get my drift about things going into the waste treatment plants...). So, I went cold turkey and gave up all vitamins and purely focused on ensuring that I eat properly. My approach was also validated in a Readers Digest article I came across titled "5 truths, lies about the vitamins in your life." The paragraph that jumped out at me was:

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    "Once upon a time, you believed in the tooth fairy. You counted on the stability of housing prices and depended on bankers to be, well, dependable. And you figured that taking vitamins was good for you. Oh, it's painful when another myth gets shattered. Recent research suggests that a daily multi is a waste of money for most people - and there's growing evidence that some other old standbys may even hurt your health."


    As more and more research is showing that fruits, vegetables and unprocessed whole foods have properties that benefit our health, look at how you can get your nutrients and vitamins all year round from the goodies on your plate.


    I do try to eat fresh locally grown or seasonal produce as much as possible. However, in winter I buy frozen berries since I just can't do without them. As a result, my daily or weekly foods changes seasonally. Below are some of the foods that I'm eating right now on either a daily or weekly basis and the vitamins I derive from them.


    ○ Greek yogurt: Vitamins A, D and Calcium
    ○ Eggs: Vitamins A, B, D and Iron
    ○ Oatmeal: Thiamine, Niacine, Folate and Selenium
    ○ Berries: Vitamin C, Calcium, Folate, Magnesium and Potassium
    ○ Dark chocolate (85%): Vitamins A, B1, C, D, E, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus and Potassium
    ○ Spinach: Vitamins A, C, E, K, Folate, Calcium and Iron
    ○ Onions: Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc
    ○ Mushrooms: Vitamins B, c, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc
    ○ Grapefruit: Vitamins B, C, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc


    How are these vitamins and minerals vital for your health?


    ○ Vitamin A - vision, immune function, bone metabolism and skin & cellular health
    ○ Vitamin B - rate of metabolism, skin & muscle tone, immune & nervous system function and cell growth
    ○ Vitamin C - immune function, cardiovascular system, prenatal health, vision and skin health

  • ○ Vitamin D - bone health, immune system, influenza protection, cancer prevention and cardiovascular system

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    ○ Vitamin E - heart health, respiratory system, PMS support, circulation and brain health
    ○ Vitamin K - bone builder and heart protector
    ○ Calcium - healthy bones and teeth, heart health, colon cancer prevention and nutrient transporter in body
    ○ Iron - life-giving oxygen carrier to human blood cells, muscle and brain function and body temperature regulation
    ○ Magnesium - bodily nerve, bone and muscle maintenance, constipation relief, collagen production, sugar level regulation and activation of enzymes
    ○ Phosphorus - bone formation, digestion, protein formation, hormone balance, cell repair and nutrient utilization


    While the amounts of vitamins and nutrients from a specific food item may not exactly compete with that supplement you take, eating a wide variety of fresh and whole foods will provide you with enough health benefits to match what comes from the bottle.


    Let's be honest, fruits, veggies or whole foods in general just taste so much better than swallowing a vitamin. So, follow Hippocrates' advice - "Let Food Be Thy Medicine" and instead of investing in bottles of vitamins, put it into your food budget for high quality fruits, vegetables and whole foods!


Published On: March 18, 2011