The Role of Vitamins and Supplements in our Health
In the modern world, it is basically impossible to go through your day without seeing an advertisement that promotes a certain vitamin or dietary supplement.
Some advertisers take this further by misleading customers about the benefits of their products and how they could improve quality of life in endless ways.
Due to the poor regulation of these products, it is extremely challenging to determine whether a supplement is truly beneficial or just another scam.
For this reason, I have teamed up with a certified physician and decided to write this article so we can cover the most common vitamins and supplements that is necessary.
Why do you need vitamins and supplements?
Inside every cell of the body, hundreds of biochemical reactions take place every second.
These reactions serve multiple purposes, including the synthesis of necessary compounds that intervene with metabolism, breathing, and other physiological functions.
Furthermore, metabolic cascades need substrates and enzymes as mediators, such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and coenzymes.
While all vitamins are involved in some biochemical reactions, not all supplements serve the same purpose since we may simply take them to improve digestion (e.g., fiber supplements).
The major vitamins and supplements you need to consider
Vitamin A is an umbrella term used to describe numerous compounds known as retinoids, which mediate many physiological and biochemical reactions.
By interfering with the action of several hormones, such as T4, insulin, and cortisol, vitamin A has diffused metabolic effects on the cell, including a vital role in the different stages of wound healing.
This compound stimulates the growth of epithelial cells, fibroblasts, granulation tissue, angiogenesis, and collagen synthesis, which are all crucial steps for wound healing and the reduction of scarring surface area.
In one study, researchers found that local and systemic supplementation with vitamin A increases dermal collagen deposition, accelerating wound healing in acute injuries and improving its appearance in chronic scars.
Vitamin A interferes with numerous immunological reactions, including the ones that involve the stimulation of immune cells to fight off infections.
Another vital role of this vitamin to promote the growth of B- and T-cells, which are part of the cellular immune system that reacts to foreign pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi).
To add to this argument, vitamin A deficiency often leads to abnormally high levels of pro-inflammatory compounds that disrupt immune system response and predispose you to various infectious diseases.
Vitamin C is an essential compound that cannot be synthesized inside the body.
Consequently, the unique source to get vitamin C is through dietary intake (e.g., fruits, vegetables). Sadly, the vast majority of the general population does not get sufficient amounts of this vital compound through their diet, hence the need to take supplements.
Vitamin D is an essential compound that mediates numerous biochemical reactions to ensure the proper function of your organs.
One unique feature of vitamin D is that it acts more like a hormone rather than a vitamin, which gives it additional properties to affect a wide range of cellular functions.
In fact, you can find vitamin D receptors on every cell of your body.
Generally speaking, vitamin D is obtained through dietary intake or synthesized by a complex biochemical cascade that involves the skin, liver, and kidneys.
The bad news is that not everyone has sufficient quantities of vitamin D in their blood circulation, which increases the risk of some maladies and makes you miss out on the potential benefits of this fascinating compound.
Here are some benefits of taking vitamin D supplements:
- Increase bone mineral density
- Boosted weight loss and basal metabolic rate
- Optimized cardiovascular functioning
Iron is an essential mineral that’s mostly associated with the production of red blood cells. However, iron also intervenes in several other biochemical functions, including immune optimization, energy production, and wound healing.
Iron is an essential mineral that’s primarily obtained through dietary intake. This mineral has complex biochemistry and is responsible for several physiological functions, such as red blood cell formation, cognitive function, and immune reactions.
Iron is integral for hematopoiesis (i.e., the process of producing white and red blood cells). More specifically, haemoglobin (the protein responsible for carrying oxygen inside the RBCs) needs iron to bind oxygen, which will be transported to various organs and tissues.
To prevent iron deficiency or reduce its impacts on your body, you should opt for iron-rich foods and high levels of vitamin C.
You see, vitamin C is crucial for the initial transformation of iron from the ferric to the ferrous form, which is vital for absorbing this mineral. (3)
In fact, researchers found that taking iron supplements with vitamin C significantly increases the concentration of iron in the bloodstream, which prevents and treats iron deficiency anaemia.
Copper mainly aids wound healing by promoting angiogenesis and producing stabilization extracellular matrix proteins.
Researchers believe that introducing copper to wound dressings could potentially accelerate the process of acute wound healing.
Zinc is an essential mineral that mediates several biochemical reactions and helps in the formation of connective tissue.
Unfortunately, our cells are unable to naturally produce zinc, which leaves dietary intake as the unique source of getting this mineral.
The optimal way to reach your daily intake of zinc is by eating a varied diet that consists of meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, dairy, and legumes, which are very rich in this mineral.
Ensuring that you are getting enough zinc through your diet is fundamental to prevent health problems and optimize the function of your organs.
Talk to your nutritionist if you suspect zinc deficiency.
We should note that consuming too much zinc may produce counterproductive results
Here are some benefits of zinc:
- Optimizes the immune system – Zinc mediates the production and signalling of immune cells, which gives it impressive immune-boosting properties.
- Accelerates the production of red blood cells – The cells require zinc to produce and deposit collagen fibres.
- Protects the cells against oxidative stress – Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are the hallmarks of several debilitating diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and cancer. The good news is that zinc possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which may decrease the risk of these illnesses.
As we mentioned earlier, the cells are an active hub of biochemical reactions, which need vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to run smoothly.
According to reports, the body houses 37 thousand-billion-billion reactions every single second!
If you consider the enzyme to be the hero of biochemistry, coenzymes are the sidekicks that increase the rate of reactions.
Deficiencies in coenzymes are often problematic as it could lead to life-threatening complications, and in milder cases, debilitating dysfunctions.
Coenzyme Q10 is a dietary supplement that increases the rate of mitochondrial biochemical reactions to produce Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP).
For reference, ATP for the human body is like gas for your car. Both entities cannot survive without fuel.
Coenzyme Q10 is a crucial element of several metabolic cascades that include the three major macronutrients (e.g., carbohydrates, protein, fat).
L-Arginine is an amino acid that’s crucial for several structural and biochemical functions. The main role of this amino acid is to mediate the production of nitric oxide (NO), which is a molecule that regulates the diameter of blood vessels.
L-Glutamine is another amino acid that mediates wound healing and scar formation.
While researchers are still debating about the exact mechanisms involved in the action of L-Glutamine, many studies confirmed its effectiveness in this area.
According to researchers, L-Glutamine is an excellent choice for post-operative healing, especially when started early on.
In one animal-based study, they concluded that “Administration of glutamine supplements accelerated the wound healing process, and it seems that glutamine is effective in the initial stages of healing. Therefore, the authors recommend oral glutamine for patients with a burn injury.”
Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and coenzymes all play a role in the optimal function of our cells. Each of these compounds has a specific role to fulfil, and deficiencies often lead to serious complications.
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“If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider”
“If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention”
Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on the importance of supplying your body with the essential supplements without being subject to misleading advertisements.
If you have any questions about what we discussed, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.