When I told some of my friends that I was studying to become a nutritionist, and one of my first topics would be vitamins they all breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Great! I just want to know which vitamins I should be taking!” Like I’ve said before, everyone is different and has different nutritional and supplemental needs. But, there are some vitamins that I think everyone should try and get enough of (from food!).
Let’s start with vitamin A. This vitamin serves many functions, but I like to think of it mainly as the vitamin that’s good for your eyes and skin. It produces retinol, which helps maintain the health of your eyes. It also helps to reduce wrinkles when our skins ages, which is why you’ve probably seen retinol or retin-A as ingredients in your anti-wrinkle cream.
This is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is the kind that is more readily stored in our body and can be toxic if too much is consumed. That being said, I would recommend getting your A mainly from food sources.
Vitamin A or retinol comes from foods like fish oils (this is why taking a good Omega-3 supplement is good for your skin!), egg yolks, whole milk, cream and butter. Provitamin A (another form of A) comes mainly from beta-carotene, which is converted into pure vitamin A in the small intestine or liver. Beta-carotene is found in a variety of orange & yellow fruits & veggies (ie. carrots), and leafy green veggies.
How much of this do we need? Well, if you include Vitamin A-rich fruits & veggies in your diet on a regular basis than you’re most likely getting enough. To put this in perspective, 2 large carrots = 10,000 IU of beta-carotene, which translates into about 3,000 IU of Vitamin A, which is a healthy daily amount. Personally, I love carrots and have about one large carrot/day, and I usually have a spinach salad. Oranges & orange bell peppers are also a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Be sure to include organic or local fresh orange & yellow produce into your diet on a regular basis, and you’ll get the daily dose of Vitamin A that your body needs!
The only time you should be taking a supplement is if you’re experiencing symptoms of deficiency. In this case, a one-on-one meeting is required to answer some questions about your diet and other habits.
Stay tuned for B,C,D & E!