The Importance of vitamins

Gabrielle Bernardini

Wellness Writer

When it comes to the content of food, it’s likely that most of us have at least heard of the terms macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients or “macros” (fat, carbs, and protein) tend to get most of the attention in the dieting world, but what about their less-hyped micro counterparts? Micronutrients consist of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and though they don’t offer any energy in the form of calories, they still play an integral role in our body’s functioning. This week, we’ll cover some functions and sources of vitamins specifically.

Vitamins are divided into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. The reason this distinction is important for us to know is that it helps us identify which vitamins could potentially be dangerous for us in large amounts. If you’ve ever heard the term “toxicity” before you know that it is the harmful result of over-consumption of a certain compound or substance. Water-soluble vitamins, when taken in excessive amounts, might have some uncomfortable side effects at most, but very rarely result in dangerous toxicity. This is because excess amounts are able to be flushed out of the body in the urine (water). Water soluble vitamins include Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, Folic acid, and Biotin. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, require more caution as they cannot be flushed out and have the potential to accumulate in the body (it’s a good idea to keep this in mind for those of you who take fat-soluble vitamins in the form of supplements). Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, E, D, and K.

On the other hand, it is still important to make sure that we are not deficient in these vitamins as they are vital for many biological processes. This means, not only consuming them in ample amounts but also facilitating absorption by eating them with compatible foods. For fat-soluble vitamins, it is helpful to also consume a healthy source of dietary fat in the same meal. This could mean eating avocado slices on your spinach or kale salad. Vitamins can also assist in the absorption of other nutrients as well. For example, consuming a source of Vitamin C can improve the absorption of iron. This could mean including slices of bell pepper in your black bean burrito.

As mentioned in the past, the best policy to follow when ensuring a range of various vitamin intake from food sources and preventing deficiencies is to “color your plate”.