It is all too easy to get some of the facts about vitamins wrong and misunderstand what is needed in our bodies. Too much of this and not enough of that we are constantly being told. There is lots of vitamin X in that and not enough vitamin Y is causing that. Where do you start?
We can split vitamins into two groups according to how they behave in our bodies. Some vitamins are fat soluble and can be stored by our body, and other vitamins are water soluble and cannot be stored at all.
Vitamins are essential to our bodies but there are many assumptions made about them, many of them untrue. The most important points to note are:
Vitamins A, D, E and K are classed as fat soluble vitamins and, as the name suggests, they are soluble in fat and therefore can be stored in our bodies. Eating excessive amounts of these vitamins will cause excessive storage and this can be harmful and in some cases toxic.
Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins are classed as water soluble vitamins. As they are soluble in water it is impossible for our body to store them. Therefore eating more of these vitamins then we need will cause the excess to be passed into our urine and excreted. This does not mean that excessive levels of these vitamins will not be harmful. Eaten in excess they cause their fair share of problems.
The only exception to the storage rule is vitamin B10, otherwise known as folic acid. This vitamin is water soluble and can be stored by our body.
We all associate vitamins with healthy eating and in turn we associate healthy eating with increased energy levels and generally feeling good. Whilst a healthy diet will help sustain energy levels (although regular exercise is the key here), the vitamins in our food do not contain energy themselves. The energy our body uses comes from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
However, the B vitamins are responsible for releasing energy from the food we eat. It is the job of the complex of B vitamins to release and transport the energy from our food and to our muscles where it can be burnt.