Vitamins are indispensable for a functioning metabolism. Since the body – with a few exceptions – cannot produce them itself, they must be ingested with food.
Anyone who eats a balanced diet usually achieves the recommended amount of vitamins. However, adolescents, pregnant women, nursing mothers, senior citizens and people suffering from certain diseases or constant stress should pay more attention to an adequate vitamin intake.
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 sufficiently supplied with vitamins.
Additional vitamins in the form of dietary supplements are then usually not necessary. However, in special life situations such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, extreme stress or sporting activity, the vitamin requirement may increase. In this case, it is best to talk to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist about a suitable Women’s Vitamin Pack.
Caution with dietary supplements
Many vitamin preparations are so-called dietary supplements. This means they are intended to supplement the diet, but not to compensate for an unhealthy diet. Some higher-dose vitamin preparations are considered medicines and are therefore only available in pharmacies. Large quantities of vitamins A or D are particularly questionable, since an excess of these fat-soluble vitamins cannot simply be excreted in the urine as is the case with the water-soluble vitamins!
Daily requirement of vitamins
Of course, knowing how deficiencies in certain vitamins manifest themselves doesn’t fix the problem. What counts is to take action: If your diet is too one-sided, you should spice up your diet with a healthy combination of different vitamin-rich foods.
- Vitamin A: 0.8 – 1.1, mg
- Vitamin D: 5 µg
- Vitamin E: 11 – 15 mg
- Vitamin K: 65 – 80 µg
- Vitamin B1: 1.0 – 1.3 mg
- Vitamin B2: 1,2 – 1,5 mg
- Vitamin B3: 13 – 17 mg
- Vitamin B5: 6 mg
- Vitamin B6: 1,2 – 1,6 mg
- Vitamin B7: 30 -60 µg
- Vitamin B9: 400 µg
- Vitamin B12: 3 µg
- Vitamin C: 100 mg
Requirements may vary depending on height, age and weight.
You should pay attention to this
Many statements of product advertising of dietary supplements are controversial and scientifically untenable. Avoid the combination of several preparations, an overdose could occur. In special life situations such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, illness, sports and age, the nutrient requirement is increased. In these cases, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about appropriate supplements.
Vitamin deficiency – When important vitamins are missing
You feel kind of floppy and yawn diligently with your neighbor? Then vitamin deficiency could be the cause. We can help you to recognize if you suffer from vitamin deficiency:
- Vitamin A: increasing vision weakness, growth inhibition, brittle fingernails.
- Vitamin D: muscle weakness, increased susceptibility to infections
- Vitamin E: fatigue
- Vitamin K: bleeding gums
- Vitamin B1: indigestion, fatigue, loss of appetite
- Vitamin B2: brittle fingernails, anemia, corneal clouding
- Vitamin B3: sleep disorders, headaches, dizziness
- Vitamin B5: mucous membrane inflammation, dizziness, sleep disorders
- Vitamin B6: bad skin, brittle mouth corners, fatigue
- Vitamin B7: hair loss, muscle pain, fatigue
- Vitamin B9: indigestion, anemia, pigmentation disorders
- Vitamin B12: nervousness, stomach problems, anemia
- Vitamin C: loss of appetite, reduced wound healing, bleeding gums
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 vitamin requirement. However, people who suffer from acute infections or are in a post-operative phase, for example, are also affected. Any form of stress leads to generally increased vitamin consumption and thus vitamin requirements. This is an important prerequisite for reducing stress.
Here it is often vitamin C and folic acid in particular that are lacking. In general, heavy smokers increase their general vitamin requirements, since numerous vitamins are used by the body to “cleanse”, i.e. detoxify, harmful smoke constituents. The need for vitamin C, for example, is 40 percent higher than in non-smokers.
With increased alcohol consumption
Regular alcohol consumption leads to a loss of appetite and thus to lower food intake. In part, this is also due to an attempt to compensate for the high calorie intake caused by alcohol by eating sparingly. In addition, alcohol in any form negatively affects the absorption and utilization of vitamins. Even wine and beer, which in small quantities can have a positive effect on the nutrient balance, lead to the same result in excess. Vitamins B1 and B6, C, folic acid and niacin are particularly affected.
Even with a diet of 1,500 kilocalories per day, it is difficult to set up a balanced diet plan that optimally ensures 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, also in terms of nutrient supply.
On the one hand, growth and development during puberty result in an increased need for nutrients – including vitamins. On the other hand, fast food is especially popular with teenagers. 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.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers
Here it is often vitamins A, B1, B2 and B6, C and folic acid and the minerals iron, zinc, iodine and calcium that are not supplied enough. Overall, vitamin requirements are at least 30 percent higher than normal during pregnancy, and up to 100 percent higher during the breastfeeding phase. For this reason, special attention must be paid to a diet rich in vitamins and minerals during these periods.
With increasing age, the energy requirement decreases and with it the natural appetite. Raw vegetables, vegetables that are difficult to chew or dishes that require considerable effort to prepare 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 lacking. In addition, the regular intake of medication, which is necessary for many elderly people, has an additional negative effect on the vitamin balance.
Processing vitamins gently
To preserve all vitamins as much as possible, gentle handling of food is necessary. With these tips, you can preserve many vitamins and nutrients:
- Never store fruits, vegetables, herbs for too long and only in a cool, dark place.
- Wash the products thoroughly, but not too long. Cleaned vegetables, peeled potatoes and lettuce leaves lose many vitamins when they are in water. Most vitamins are preserved when food is prepared fresh.
- Fish pressed juices or grated fresh foods are best enjoyed immediately
- Chop herbs just before using them.
- The following applies to vegetables and potatoes: Steaming or steaming and short cooking times retain a particularly large number of vitamins in the food.
- Fruits and vegetables with water-soluble vitamins should be eaten raw as often as possible, if the product allows.
- For fish and meat, cooking methods are recommended that achieve the necessary internal temperature but do not take too long. Grilling, for example, 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 merely dabbed with a moistened kitchen towel or household paper.
- Fish, especially fish fillets, must be washed thoroughly under running water immediately after rinsing.