Vitamins! A tale of tragedy and triumph.

Vitamins! A tale of tragedy and triumph.

Time to move on to vitamin supplements. Why are they important?

Let’s start with a little background. Vitamins have been around for a while now.  The history is filled with pirates, love, loss, and scientific misconduct.  The discovery of vitamins cannot be attributed to any one person, but dozens of brilliant minds throughout the 1800s to the mid 1900s.  Starting with François Magendie who tried to feed gelatin broth to the poor (gross).

Most people know that vitamins are a thing and that they are necessary.  Most have heard of scurvy and that it is attributed to a lack of vitamin C.  Diseases related to vitamin deficiencies such as pellagra, scurvy, rickets and beriberi perplexed scientists for years, unable to determine what is causing such debilitating conditions. Scientists in the mid to late 19th century were able to determine that these conditions were not infectious, but were due to an inadequate diet.  Many studies were conducted in an effort to figure out the cause of these diseases and eventually, breakthroughs were made and the compounds were discovered, isolated, then synthesized.

Vitamins are compounds that our bodies need in trace amounts. Because our bodies cannot consistently synthesize sufficient quantities, we need to make sure we are getting the proper amounts within our diet. A nutrient dense diet is a definite must to make sure that we are getting the necessary amount of vitamins to ensure optimal functioning.

Unfortunately, choking down a large pizza with a liter of Dr. mountain beer does not make for a nutrient-dense diet.

Vitamins are separated into two groups: fat soluble and water soluble.  Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water upon entering the body and are transported to the body’s tissues.   Water-soluble vitamins need to be taken regularly to avoid deficiency.  B-12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored for multiple years.  Water-soluble vitamins include the ever popular vitamin C and the B-vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are absorbed best when taken with dietary fat and are stored in our fatty tissue.  The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K.

These vitamins are necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies.  Vitamins are needed for proper mineral regulation, to the creation of neurotransmitters, to proper brain function to even DNA creation.

I mentioned that to make sure that we are getting the necessary vitamins, we need to have a nutrient-dense diet. I love pasta. Pasta takes me to a happy place, akin to Nirvana. Unfortunately, pasta is a far cry from nutrient dense. We will go over what constitutes a nutrient dense diet in a later post.  Tomorrow, we will go over vitamin deficiencies!

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