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The CalorieKing Vitamin Guide

Many Australians take a vitamin pill of some sort, but often they don’t need to. Most of the essential vitamins and minerals that you need to stay healthy can be obtained through the food you consume, which is why it's so important to eat a well-balanced diet.

Read on to learn more about vitamins and how to get the right amounts.

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What are vitamins?

Vitamins are chemical compounds that are essential for normal growth and metabolism; we need them to keep healthy.

The main role of vitamins is to help convert the food we eat into energy and living tissues, such as bones, muscles, blood, nerves, and skin. Vitamins also help the body resist infection and protect body cells. Although vitamins are essential to life, they are only required in tiny amounts. 

Because vitamins cannot be made by the body (except vitamin D), we must obtain vitamins from food. Most vitamins are not stored in the body to any great extent and must be replenished regularly, which is why it’s so important to eat a well-balanced diet.

New research also suggests a greater role for vitamins (and minerals) in the prevention or slowing down of many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, cataracts, osteoporosis, and birth defects. The total effects of vitamins on the body are still not fully known or understood.

There are two broad groups of vitamins:

  • Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, K, and beta-carotene
  • Water-soluble vitamins, including the B vitamins, (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12) vitamin C, and folate.

Understanding the recommended dietary intake (RDI)

RDI's are the amounts of essential nutrients that are considered adequate by the National Health and Medical Research Council to meet the nutritional requirements of healthy people. They are designed to prevent nutritional deficiency diseases such as scurvy, beriberi, pellagra, rickets, and anemia. Following RDI recommendations for vitamins and other nutrients helps keep your body in good health.

However, it’s important to remember that the RDI's do not address the extra nutrient needs of persons who have certain chronic ailments, who smoke, or who are on prescribed medications.

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