Vitamins are micronutrients synthesized by plants. When you eat plants such as fruits and vegetables, you absorb the vitamins into your body. Animals have the same ability to absorb vitamins from plants, so you obtain some vitamins secondhand by eating animal products such as eggs, fish or meat. You also can consume supplements to meet your vitamin needs. Vitamins have a number of profound and healthy functions throughout the body.
"The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program," by Nancy Pauling Bruning and Shari Lieberman, explains that a vitamin can be defined as something that -- if missing from your diet -- results in ill health.
Many vitamins have identifiable roles in maintaining the function and health of your body. For example, vitamin C is associated with your immune system and your ability to fight off infections. Vitamin D works alongside the mineral calcium to promote healthy bones. Vitamin E is linked to skin, hair and nail health, and the B vitamins are involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates for energy. Vitamin K is necessary for forming blood clots, and vitamin A is important for ocular health and vision. Although many vitamins have identifiable roles, they seldom work alone and work far better in concert than they do in isolation.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are classed as fat-soluble vitamins and are transported and utilized in the body in the presence of dietary fats. Your body stores excess fat-soluble vitamins for use when needed. Vitamins B and C are water soluble and cannot be stored in your body. Your kidneys eliminate excess vitamin B and C in your urine, so you need to consume adequate amounts of B and C on a daily basis.
You can obtain vitamins from a variety of food sources as well as vitamin supplements. Fish oils and liver contain vitamin A; you'll find B vitamins in meat, grains and leafy green vegetables; vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits such as oranges; vitamin D and vitamin E can be obtained from fish oils and nut oils; and leafy green vegetables are a good source of vitamin K. Eating a variety of plant and animal-based foods ensures that you obtain a broad range of vitamins.
The symptoms associated with taking too many vitamins are unpleasant. Although it is very hard to overdose on vitamins, consuming too many may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, stomach upsets and Diarrhea. It is highly unlikely you will consume too many vitamins from natural foods alone, but if you take too many vitamin supplements in addition to an already vitamin-dense diet, you may consume too many. In the case of vitamins, more does not necessarily equal better.
- The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book, 4th edition: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program; Nancy Pauling Bruning and Shari Lieberman
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, 3rd Edition; Alan H. Pressman and Sheila Buff
- Time: Vitamin Overdose
- Vitamins Information: Your Online Guide for Information on Vitamin Sources
- Kathrin Ziegler/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.