Essential Vitamins

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Essential vitamins are those organic and inorganic compounds that help the body perform at its optimum level. Nearly every ache and pain we feel, apart from those caused by injury or a specific medical condition, may be a result of an essential vitamin deficiency. In a perfect world, we'd get all our essential vitamins and minerals from our diet alone, but of course, few of us live in Utopia.

It's hard to get even decent, much less perfect, nutrition from diet alone. First, the very soil from which our food is grown is radically depleted in nutrients compared to just a few generations before. Modern farming techniques, which include accelerated growth, frequent harvesting, and the use of toxic pesticides, results in food less nutrient-packed than what our parents or grandparents ate. Rosy as it may be, the tomato you see at the grocery store is just not as "healthy" as the tomato your great-uncle bought in the '40s or '50s.

Additionally, Americans, in particular, are eating a lot of relatively "empty calories" in processed and fast foods. Most vitamins are simply killed at high heat. Plus, the vitamins that do make it through the commercial cooking process have their work cut out for them just to balance out the extra fats and sodium found in these "easier" foods. And finally, we simply need more nutritional punch than earlier generations did. Emotional and environmental stress eats up the vitamins in our bodies, as do environmental pollutants. As a result, contemporary people face a double whammy: more nutritional needs than previous generations to maintain even basic health, while being faced with foods less nutrient packed than earlier folks used to eat. What to do?

Essential Vitamins: Supplements

Most medical experts agree that taking at least a daily multivitamin is good nutritional sense. In addition to the 13 organic and inorganic compounds recommended by the Federal Government for basic health, many people look also for enhancers like antioxidants, and herbs that may improve memory and nerve function. Check for precise dosages, high potency, and for those that are most easily assimilated into the bloodstream.


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