5 Essential Vitamins For Great Health

The shelves in stores are loaded with vitamins and supplements today, so how do you decide which ones are must-haves in your medicine cabinet?

These five vitamins are essential for everybody, man or woman, old or young.

Keep in mind that your body cannot manufacture any vitamins except for vitamin D, which comes from sunshine. That means you have to consume foods with adequate amounts of vitamins or else buy the supplements you need.

The B Vitamins

Just the B vitamins alone could take up a whole page—the B complex comprises many nutrients important for everything from foetal development to a healthy heart to sound mental health. Probably the two most important vitamins, however, are B6 and B12. B vitamins are water soluble, which means that whatever your body doesn’t use in a given day is flushed out in your urine. B12 is the exception, however; about 5 milligrams will be stored in the liver.

Vitamin B6: This important nutrient, known as pyridoxine, helps many of the enzymes within your body to do their jobs. It also keeps the brain functioning at peak levels. Without enough B6, you can develop anaemia. You do not need thousands of milligrams of this vitamin, however, since too much can make you feel lethargic or make arms or legs tingle or feel numb. Avoid taking more than 100 to 300 milligrams daily.

Oats Vitamin B

Find B6 in the following foods: bananas, cereals, avocados, beans, oatmeal or oat grain bread, poultry or meat, and seeds.

Vitamin B12: You need this vitamin in order to manufacture red blood cells and keep nerve endings healthy. It also helps to make and protect the DNA that all the cells throughout your body contain. Most bottles list the B12 content in micrograms, and  you need about 2000 to 3000 mcg daily—2 or 3 milligrams.

The best place to find B12 is in liver—but if you hate that, try clams, eggs, poultry, milk, or cheese. Because B12 is such an important nutrient, many cereals and breads are fortified with B12, so check packages when you’re at the grocery store.


Three other important vitamins include A, D, and C.  Here’s what they do and how much to take:

Vitamin A

There are two types of vitamin A: There are the retinoids, which help skin and cell growth. Many people have heard of them in connection with acne treatment or prevention of lines and wrinkles in ageing skin. However, Vitamin A is also present in beta carotenes that help vision and is a natural antioxidant. Because vitamin A is so helpful for cell growth, it aids in the protection of the body’s organs such as the heart, lungs, and abdominal organs.  You should take about 2,500 to 10,000 micrograms daily.

Sweet Potatos

Find Vitamin A in fish oils, but also in carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. It is also plentiful in liver and spinach.

Vitamin D

A few years ago, doctors realized that many people who live in snowy parts of the world suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. That’s not because snow diminishes the vitamin; rather, it’s because people tend to stay indoors when it’s cold outside and they don’t get the Vitamin D that the sun normally provides.  People with darker skin do not absorb Vitamin D as well as lighter-skinned folks.

Also, excessive sun exposure can cause skin cancers, so for that reason the government will not recommend a daily allotment of exposure to sun.  For that reason you should take Vitamin D to protect yourself from rickets or softening of bone tissue or teeth. D is also important because it facilitates the transmission of synapses between the muscles and the brain. People who lack enough Vitamin D feel sluggish and lethargic. It fights off viruses and bacteria, and as you age it can protect you from osteoporosis.

Besides the sun, you can get Vitamin D from mushrooms, fish, or fish oils. Many dairy products such as milk come fortified with D. Often, you will find that calcium supplements come synthesized with added D because D aids in the absorption of the calcium that’s also needed for good bone health.  You need from 1,000 to 5,000 micrograms daily.


Vitamin C

This vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, is another natural antioxidant. It protects the body’s immune system by aiding in the absorption of iron. It also manufactures collagen, a protein that aids in the healing of wounds to the skin or after surgery. People who don’t get enough Vitamin C can develop scurvy, a deficiency that causes softness and sores in the gums. You need 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams daily.

Find Vitamin C in citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, red and green peppers, and kiwi fruit. Broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, and baked potatoes have Vitamin C. Check food labels since many common grocery items are fortified with Vitamin C.


One other thing to remember in choosing a dose is that many vitamin bottles state the dosage in micrograms instead of milligrams. You may have noticed this in the recommended dosages, above, so be certain to read labels carefully before you buy vitamin supplements.

Most people who eat a well-balanced diet get enough vitamins without buying supplements. However, if you’re likely to eat on the run, skip meals, or exclude fresh fruits and vegetables from your daily diet, you really need to invest in some of these supplements.


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