It is important for everyone to take vitamin supplements particularly if they are at risk of some type of deficiency or to prevent a deficiency down the road. If you are pregnant or going through menopause, this becomes very important. Even so, many of us don’t eat properly every day for one reason or another so it’s a good idea to add supplements to your diet. A good daily vitamin should contain a balance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. So, let’s take a look at the components that should support your overall health.
Your vitamin supplement should contain A, C, D3, K and B complex which includes B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. Vitamin A is important for vision, reproduction and your immune system. C is a potent antioxidant that is water soluble that prevents cell damage from free-radicals. D3 is important for the absorption of calcium from the stomach and calcium functioning in the body including bones and teeth. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting to prevent internal bleeding. B vitamins have hundreds of functions but in particular are important for energy production in the form of ATP which runs most of your metabolic functions.
Your daily vitamin should include certain minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, boron and vanadium. The body uses minerals to perform a myriad of functions from building and maintaining bones to neuronal signaling. A number of the minerals you need actually act as cofactors which are important for activating enzymes. Without these minerals, enzyme can’t do their work.
Vanadium is a cofactor that activates enzymes responsible for the transport and breakdown of glucose in cells. Boron aids in absorption of other minerals such as magnesium and phosphorous. Molybdenum aids in the breakdown of amino acids, fats and sugars. Manganese is an important cofactor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) which is a powerful antioxidant your body makes. Chromium aids in glucose transport into your cells effectively lowering blood sugar levels. Selenium is very important for reproduction, DNA production, thyroid function and inhibits cellular damage from free-radical production. Iodine is important for the production of thyroid hormone that controls metabolic rate for all your cells in your body. Phosphorus is important for teeth, bones and all cells for energy production in the form of ATP. Calcium has many functions but particularly important for muscle contraction and signal conduction in neurons. And, copper is important for red blood cell production and energy as well.
Botanicals and Their Antioxidants
Many vitamins contain natural blends of their choosing but there are some botanicals that are really powerful in what they have to offer in terms of their antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Consider beetroot, carrot, black currant, blueberry, broccoli, cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry and spinach.
Beetroot promotes a healthy cardiovascular system because of its powerful antioxidants. Carrot has the ability to lower bad cholesterol (decreasing risk of heart attack), can prevent certain cancers, slow down aging process and support eye health. Both black currant and blueberry contain powerful antioxidants, minerals and vitamins such as vitamin K. Broccoli is considered to be one the healthiest foods you can eat. It contains powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Cranberry, pomegranate and raspberry all contains powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Spinach has vitamins, minerals such as iron and powerful antioxidants as well. Although the botanicals all contain powerful antioxidants, they are all different and work differently in the body. The chemical names involved are too complicated to get into here. So, it’s important to take in a variety of botanicals to cover all your antioxidant needs.
It’s important to have enzymes that can break down sugars, fats and protein so that your gut can absorb them better. Look for digestive enzymes such as protease, amylase and lipase. Proteases break down proteins into smaller units known as amino acids. Amylases breakdown large carbohydrates into smaller sugar units and lipases break down fats. You might also consider taking a vitamin that contains Bacillus laterosporus (B. laterosporus). This is a healthy bacterium that maintains a healthy large intestine (colon) and protects your immune system. Remember, most of your immune system is in your gut.
It’s a good idea to take a daily vitamin that specifically supports some brain function and in particular look for ingredients such as Ginkgo biloba, choline, inositol and boron. Boron is a mineral that has the ability to improve cognitive function. Ginkgo biloba increases blood circulation allowing for more oxygen and nutrients to get to your cells (brain included) to make them work better. Choline is an important component of the plasma membrane and it is also used to make acetylcholine which is the neurotransmitter responsible for short term memory. Choline increases focus and concentration. Inositol is also a part of the plasma membrane of cells and is important for synthesis of molecular messengers and aids in the binding of certain neurotransmitters to their receptors. For example, acetylcholine and GABA. Recall that acetylcholine is involved with short term memory (focus and concentration). GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter that keeps the brain from getting over-excited. Inositol and choline work together as a nootropic (smart molecules) combination that boosts memory, focus, motivation and overall cognitive function.
Any daily vitamin should support heart health and one way to do that is by combining botanicals that are specifically oriented around the heart. Consider cinnamon, Resveratrol, grape seed and Coenzyme Q10. Cinnamon is known for its ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular issues because of the powerful antioxidants it contains. It also lowers blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. It also decreases inflammation. Grape seed contains powerful antioxidants known as proanthocyanidins which are know to support heart health. Coenzyme Q10 activates enzymes involved in the production ATP from the breakdown of glucose. Although Coenzyme Q10 is found in all cells it is particularly important for the heart. The heart works hard every-day and needs an ample supply of energy to do all of its contractions. Resveratrol contains powerful antioxidants that complement all the other antioxidants by preventing cell damage due to free-radical formation.
Eye health is very important and any daily vitamin should contain components that support proper eye function. Consider ingredients such as rutin, lycopene, lutein and astaxanthin. Rutin has many health benefits particularly involving blood flow. It increases blood flow specifically to the eye while protecting the vasculature of the eye. It helps to provide clear vision. Lycopene and lutein are powerful antioxidants that keep your eyes protected from free-radicals. Astaxanthin is another antioxidant that particularly protects your eyes from free-radical damage. In fact, astaxanthin is more powerful than lycopene and lutein.
There seems to be different points of view on whether you should take a daily vitamin. Some people seem to think that if you have a good diet, you don’t need it. But, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most people don’t have a good diet even if they think they do simply because the foods we eat today are not as nutritious as they once were. Our soils have been depleted of the nutrients you need so the plants you are eating are lacking in essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. On top of that, we eat a lot of processed foods that take even more nutrients out of the food. Not to mention the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. It’s a good idea to take a daily vitamin to fill in the gaps to maintain a healthier life style.