A Quick Look at What Vitamins Are and Why We All Want Them
When we talk about vitamins, what are we really talking about? Rather than thinking of the tablets to swallow or gummies to chew, what we are really talking about is some of the vital nutrients that our body needs. The word “vitamin” is rooted in the word vital, synonymous with necessary. If you ask for a definition, The American Heritage, Dictionary of the English Language will tell you a vitamin is: “Any of various fat-soluble or water-soluble organic substances that are essential in minute amounts for normal growth and activity of living organisms. They are synthesized by bacteria and plants and are obtained by animals chiefly in their diet.”
Vitamins are the nutrients or chemical compounds that our body cannot synthesize itself but are necessary to the functioning of the cells that make up our body. Of course, you have probably heard that minerals are also essential for the proper functioning of our bodies, and this is also true. Additionally, dieticians recommend differing amounts of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates for a healthy diet. Amino acids—or proteins—are building blocks for our bodies. Fats and Carbohydrates are essentially energy-storing molecules and our bodies use them as fuel, literally storing and burning them in our cells similarly to how a car stores and burns gasoline for energy—although in much smaller amounts at a time and in a very different way. Luckily, there are not explosions happening inside us all the time like the little explosions that occur every time cars use gasoline.
Vitamins and minerals are used by the body more like keys inserted into locks, or like fasteners to put things together, such as screws or glue. Vitamins are sometimes referred to as coenzymes and can also be precursors to coenzymes, or rather things the body needs to create the coenzymes. Enzymes are some of the proteins made inside our body through the encoding of our DNA, and coenzymes are the vital pieces that help the enzymes do their work. Without vitamins, enzymes might wander without attaching to the proper cellular machinery where they are needed. Having a good balance of proper vitamins helps our bodies to regulate the processes happening inside us.
How Many Vitamins Do We Need
The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, was established by the US Military around the time of the Second World War. These guidelines were established as the minimum amount of certain nutrients needed by soldiers to avoid suffering malnourishment and vitamin deficiency diseases. Before this time, people around the world routinely suffered deficiency diseases such as Beriberi, Rickets, Pellagra, and Scurvy. As important as vitamins are to human survival, we might have thought that we would have known more about them for thousands of years, but, alas, it has only been through more recent scientific study that we have been able to ascertain the importance of vitamins to our everyday lives. Again, going back to the definition, we are told that these nutrients “are essential in minute amounts.”
It is generally held that the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and the family of B vitamins can be regulated by the body such that there is little chance of reaching a point of toxicity. Whereas the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and D are not as easily disposed of when the body has too much. Also, it has been shown that absorption and use of minerals like calcium are better when combined with the proper amounts of magnesium and vitamin D.
Over 50 years ago, Dr. Myron Wentz—the founder of USANA Health Sciences, The Cellular Nutrition Company—began his work at Gull Laboratories. At his facility, he studied human cell cultures and their reactions to different pathogens. One of his most significant discoveries was what became the diagnostic test for the Epstein Barr Virus, also known as mononucleosis—or mono. In addition to many other discoveries, in the course of his studies, Dr. Wentz refined the process of “feeding” the human cell cultures that he kept for research. By giving their cell cultures the proper amounts of different vitamins and minerals, Dr. Wentz and his team were able to discover optimum cellular nutrition.
How Does This Help Us Now
The Micronutrients that we want are now easily available in USANA’s HealthPak. We have looked at the general ideas behind vitamins and why they are essential to maintaining the optimal health of our bodies. Now we will take a look at each vitamin, how they are delivered, and some of what they do for us.
In Vita Antioxidant—part of the HealthPak system—high-potency vitamin A is delivered with three sources: beta-carotene, mixed carotenoids, and retinyl acetate. Beta-carotene is a provitamin form of vitamin A, meaning that it is only converted into vitamin A by the body as needed. Retinyl acetate is a preformed vitamin A and provides for those whose bodies do not convert beta-carotene as efficiently. Carotenoids are used by our skin and eyes in maintenance.
B Vitamins are essential in many aspects of good health maintenance. They are used by our bodies’ metabolism in producing energy. Additionally, our immune systems use B vitamins, and they are found in our skin, hair, and nails. You may have heard of some of the B vitamins included such as folate, niacin, biotin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, B6, and B12.
Healthy cellular communication can also include the use of inositol, known as vitamin B8.
Sometimes people will refer to ascorbic acid as vitamin C. The production of collagen, which helps to provide elasticity to connective tissues is assisted by vitamin C. Also, vitamin C is used in healthy bones and teeth, cartilage and tendons, and even in our muscles, veins, and arteries. Ascorbate forms of magnesium and calcium are also used in the Core minerals formula found in the HealthPak, and ascorbate is another source of vitamin C.
When people talk about getting enough sunshine, part of what they are referring to is the ability that the body has to make vitamin D from spending time in the sun. Vitamin D is known to support calcium absorption which contributes to proper bone density. Vitamin D is also used by the muscles—including the heart—and by the immune system. When taken as a supplement, the HealthPak uses vitamin D3 to increase levels of vitamin D in the blood.
Vitamin E and Mixed Tocopherols
In addition to vitamin E, the HealthPak includes D-Beta, D-Delta, and D-Gamma tocopherols. While tocopherols might not be nearly as easy to pronounce, they do function similarly to vitamin E. Vitamin E can be used in your cells as they fight against the oxidative stress of pollution, sunlight, and even stress. Healthy skin also uses vitamin E when fighting against signs of premature aging.
Both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 are used in the Vita-Antioxidant formula found in USANA’s HealthPak. Our bones use both forms of vitamin K in building bone mineral density. When taken as a supplement, vitamin K is both quickly absorbed into the blood system, and quickly disappears. As a result, if you want to maintain vitamin K in the body you will also want to have a regular dietary intake.
Also included in the HealthPak is another carotenoid known as Lutein. Lutein is a yellow-pigmented carotenoid and is used in the macula of our eyes. The yellow helps to aid clear vision, as it filters some of the blue light which we have all heard more about recently as coming from our various digital devices.
Lycopene must come from your diet, as many of the essential vitamins are not produced by the body. This is a red-pigmented nutrient and one of the six major carotenoids found in human blood. It is vitally used in intracellular communication, and, as such, is included in USANA’s HealthPak.
Not technically a vitamin, Choline is often grouped in with the B vitamins, as it was once thought to be one. Nerve impulses from the brain use choline in transmission throughout the body. Additionally, choline is found in support of cell structure and even in liver function. The body also utilizes choline as it maintains healthy homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a common amino acid in our blood which we get mostly from eating meat. Thus, although not a vitamin, choline is particularly important to our bodies as well, so USANA values and incorporates it.
CoQ10, as it is sometimes called, was first discovered in 1957 at the University of Wisconsin Enzyme Institute. It was later revealed as a naturally occurring nutrient playing a pivotal role in the electron transport chain, which is a part of the energy used for cell production. It appears to be present in almost all animal life as well as most bacteria. This is a part of the USANA HealthPak as well, but as many people like to supplement with more coenzyme Q 10, also available is USANA® CoQuinone.
Wrapping It Up in a Nice, Neat HealthPak Package
All in all, it is important to ensure your body has everything it needs to keep at optimum performance. Whether you are an Olympic athlete or play social sports with your friends when not working your 9-to-5, or anywhere in between, your body can use these keys as it unlocks its potential. Check out everything USANA has to offer so you get the complete package.