Daily vitamins are of considerable importance

Vitamins: important for a functioning metabolism (1/14)

Those who eat a balanced diet usually achieve the recommended amount of vitamins. However, adolescents, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, the elderly and people who suffer from certain illnesses or persistent stress should pay more attention to an adequate supply of vitamins.

How many vitamins do we need?

With a mixed diet recommended by the German Nutrition Society, which includes five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, most people are adequately supplied with vitamins.

Additional vitamins in the form of dietary supplements are then usually not necessary. In special life situations such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, with extreme stress or exercise, the vitamin requirement can increase. In this case, it is best to speak to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist about an appropriate nutritional supplement.

Be careful with dietary supplements

Many vitamin preparations are so-called dietary supplements. This means that they are intended to supplement the menu, but not to compensate for an unhealthy diet. Some higher-dose vitamin preparations are considered medicinal products and are therefore only offered in pharmacies. Large amounts of vitamin A or D are particularly problematic, as an excess of these fat-soluble vitamins cannot simply be excreted in the urine as with the water-soluble vitamins!

You should be aware of this

  • Many of the statements made in the product advertising of dietary supplements are controversial and scientifically unsustainable.
  • Avoid the combination of several preparations, an overdose could occur.
  • In special life situations such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, illness, sport and old age, the need for nutrients is increased. In these cases, talk to your doctor or dietitian about suitable nutritional supplements.
  • Be aware that drug interactions are possible.
  • Remember: Many foods, for example ACE juices, breakfast cereals or corn flakes, are already fortified with vitamins.

Conclusion: Dietary supplements cannot replace fruit and vegetables, they can only supplement them. The reason: In addition to vitamins and minerals, they provide bioactive substances that are not yet known in detail. In contrast, food supplements usually only contain a few isolated substances.

Who Needs More Vitamins?

Special life situations or eating habits can lead to an increased need for vitamins.

Who is under stress

Emotional influences, physical or mental overstrain can result in an increased need for vitamins. However, people who suffer from acute infections or are in a postoperative phase are also affected. Every form of stress leads to a general increase in vitamin consumption and thus vitamin requirements. This is an important prerequisite for reducing stress.

Smoker

Here it is often mainly vitamin C and folic acid that are missing. In general, the general need for vitamins increases with heavy smokers, since numerous vitamins are used by the body for "cleansing", ie to detoxify harmful smoke components. The need for vitamin C, for example, is 40 percent higher than that of non-smokers.

With increased alcohol consumption

Regular alcohol consumption leads to loss of appetite and thus less food intake. In part, this is also due to the fact that attempts are made to compensate for the high calorie intake caused by alcohol by eating sparingly. In addition, alcohol in every form has a negative effect on the absorption and utilization of vitamins. Wine and beer, which in small quantities can have a positive effect on the nutrient balance, also lead to the same result in excess. Vitamins B1 and B6, C, folic acid and niacin are particularly affected.

Diets

Even with a diet of 1,500 kilocalories per day, it is difficult to set up a balanced nutrition plan that optimally secures the supply of vitamins and minerals. One can imagine that with an even lower food intake, an undersupply is programmed. Extreme diets are therefore not advisable with regard to the nutrient supply.

teenager

On the one hand, growth and development during puberty lead to an increased need for nutrients - including vitamins. On the other hand, fast food is particularly popular with young people. Apart from other "unhealthy" factors such as too much fat and sugar, it is usually characterized by a low vitamin content. For adolescents, folic acid, vitamins B1 and B2 are particularly important, as are the minerals iron and iodine.

The pill"

Above all, birth control pills with a high proportion of estrogen lead to an increased need for vitamins. In particular, the need for vitamin B6, but also B2 and folic acid increases.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

Here it is often the vitamins A, B1, B2 and B6, C and folic acid and the minerals iron, zinc, iodine and calcium that are insufficiently supplied. Overall, the vitamin requirement during pregnancy is at least 30 percent higher than normal, and up to 100 percent higher during breastfeeding. That is why you must pay particular attention to a diet rich in vitamins and minerals during these times.

Elderly people

With increasing age, the energy requirement decreases and with it the natural appetite. Raw vegetables, vegetables that are difficult to chew or dishes with considerable effort in preparation often disappear from the menu. The intake of vitamins can therefore drop drastically. Above all, vitamins A, B2 and B6, folic acid, C and the minerals iron and calcium are missing. In addition, the regular intake of medication, which is necessary for many older people, has an additional negative effect on the vitamin balance.

Process vitamins gently

In order to preserve all vitamins as much as possible, careful handling of the food is necessary. You can get lots of vitamins and nutrients with these tips:

  • Never store fruit, vegetables, herbs for too long and only in a cool and dark place.
  • The products should be washed thoroughly, but not for too long. Cleaned vegetables, peeled potatoes and lettuce leaves lose many vitamins when they are in water. Most vitamins are retained when the food is freshly prepared.
  • It is best to enjoy freshly squeezed fish juices or grated fresh food straight away
  • Chop herbs just before use.
  • The following applies to vegetables and potatoes: With steaming or steaming and short cooking times, a particularly large number of vitamins remain in the food.
  • Fruits and vegetables with water-soluble vitamins should be eaten as raw vegetables as often as possible, provided the product allows it.
  • For fish and meat, we recommend cooking methods that achieve the necessary internal temperature but do not take too long. For example, grilling is preferable to long roasting.
  • Meat with an "unprotected" surface, for example skinned fillets, steaks or chops, should not be washed under running water, and certainly not in standing water, but should only be dabbed with a dampened kitchen towel or kitchen paper.
  • Fish, especially fish fillets, must be patted dry immediately after rinsing under running water and prepared as quickly as possible.

List of vitamins

In nutritional science, a distinction is made between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's adipose tissue and therefore do not have to be constantly supplied like water-soluble vitamins.

Similar, but different - vitaminoids

Vitaminoids are essential substances with vitamin-like properties. The body can produce them itself in limited quantities. At the same time, however, they are also taken in with the food. As long as the body's own production and supply are correct, there are no deficiency symptoms.

In special situations such as stress or increased sporting training, the vitamin reserves are stressed above average. In addition, if the diet is not balanced, a long-term vitamin deficiency can result. Chronic diseases, for example in the cardiovascular system, can be favored as a result. Fatigue, irritability, frequent infections or skin changes can be the first unspecific signs of a deficiency.

The most important vitaminoids

Carnitine

This vitaminoid plays a key role in burning fat. The daily carnitine intake should be between 10 to 70 milligrams. Carnitine is mainly found in milk and meat.

Ubiquinone (Q 10)

Ubiquinone is significantly involved in the energy metabolism. Natural sources of ubiquinone are meat, eggs, vegetable foods and germ oils. From the age of 40, the ubiquinone concentration in the human body - especially in the heart - decreases.

Alpha lipoic acid (thioctic acid)

This vitaminoid is involved in the metabolism in the heart and liver. Small amounts of alpha lipoic acid are found in most foods.

Beta carotene

This vitaminoid is mainly found in fruits and vegetables - just like all other phytochemicals. The best food sources for beta-carotene are unpeeled apples, carrots, parsley and leafy vegetables. Beta-carotene is a powerful free radical scavenger, and the body can also extract vitamin A from beta-carotene. Beta-carotene foods should always be consumed with some fat, as beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Hunt for free radicals

Vitamins C and E as well as beta-carotene as a precursor to vitamin A belong to the so-called antioxidants. They act as a kind of police force in the body and catch cell-damaging free radicals. These extremely aggressive oxygen particles pounce on living cells and can cause lasting damage. The cell perishes or degenerates into a cancer cell.

If free oxygen radicals occur particularly heavily, an "oxidative stress situation" arises for the affected people. This occurs above all when the body has to defend itself against infections and inflammatory processes or when one is under great physical or mental tension. There are also external triggers such as UV radiation, chemicals or drugs.

But the same applies to our organism: No attack without defense. That is why he has "radical catchers" ready. In addition to various enzymes, also the antioxidant vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. For example, so that the phagocytes, which are so important for the immune defense, are not destroyed by the radicals themselves, they equip themselves with plenty of vitamin C inside the cells. They consume about 50 times as much vitamin C as other cells. The same applies to the other antioxidant vitamins.

Good sources of antioxidants are almost all types of fruit and vegetables, particularly intensely colored green vegetables, tomatoes, carrots and high-quality vegetable oils.

Infarct protection

Free radicals are obviously also involved in the development of hardening of the arteries, arteriosclerosis. And that in turn is a significant factor in heart attacks and strokes. At the Institute for Physiological Chemistry in Düsseldorf it was found that the oxygen radicals attack the harmful LDL fraction of blood cholesterol and break down the fatty acids. It is only because of this somewhat rancid LDL cholesterol that "fatty waste" forms, which is deposited in the inner wall of the arteries and with which arteriosclerosis begins. The higher the content of antioxidant vitamins in the blood, especially vitamin E and beta-carotene, the lower the possibility of LDL cholesterol oxidation and the better the protection against deposits in the blood vessels.

Secondary plant substances

This collective term covers various substances that influence a large number of metabolic processes. Secondary phytochemicals are found in many foods - around 100,000 different are known to date, with around 5,000 to 10,000 occurring in human food.

Various health-promoting effects are ascribed to secondary plant substances. They may protect against cancer and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. However, the data on the effects are still thin on the whole. In addition, the absorption of various plant substances in the compound of a food may be necessary for the effect in the body.

Nevertheless: The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables and other plant-based foods in order to get enough secondary plant substances.