Vitamins are nutrients found in different types of food that are essential to the well-being of the human body.

Vitamins are nutrients found in different types of food that are essential to the well-being of the human body. They are either fat-soluble (found in fatty foods such as butter and oily fish) or water-soluble (found in fruit and vegetables).

Water-solubles are not capable of being stored in the body and therefore if an individual consumes more of these than necessary it generally is not harmful. However, being exposed to air damages these more-vulnerable nutrients, meaning much of their value can be destroyed by cooking. Examples of these vitamins include B6, C, B12 and folic acid.

Fat-soluble vitamins are needed on a daily basis for the body to work properly. However, as they can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues they do not need to be consumed every day. Furthermore, over-consumption of fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.

Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include A, D E and K.

What are RDAs?

RDA stands for recommended daily allowance - a volume of a certain food the government expects a healthy female or male adult to eat. The first RDAs were outlined by the Department of Health and 1979 to provide consumers with a guide to how much of which types of food they should be eating; these figures, since updated, are now published on the labels of various edibles.

As well as taking into consideration calorie content, RDAs also outline the ideal daily intake of vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet, with figures adjusted according to sex.

Nutritional Vitamins

Most vitamins are nutritional in that they replenish the body in some way but each type of vitamin has its own unique set of benefits. For example, vitamin A is a needed for a strong immune system and good vision, while vitamin B is for healthy skin, and vitamin C is essential for healthy teeth and gums.

Meanwhile, vitamin E helps the body control bone formation, vitamin E ensures organ health and vitamin K is needed for blood clotting.

Vitamin Supplements

For those who do not like or for allergic reasons cannot consume certain food types a multimillion pound industry selling vitamin supplements has emerged. They are often also recommended for individuals with certain health conditions. For example, pregnant women are encouraged to take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, while children aged between six months and four years should take supplements of vitamins A, C and D.

Can you take too many?

Certain vitamins, such as C, can be overdosed on and consumers should always check the label for an idea of the quantities of the supplement that need to be administered. However, much of the bad press supplements receive comes from nutritionists' fears that individuals will consume vitamin tablets and continue to eat an otherwise negative diet.

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