Nutrition Data for Vitamins
by Alexandra Haller
The nutrition data for vitamins are based on sound scientific research from an arm of the National Academies of Science, a nonprofit group that is not a governmental organization. Their guidelines on these crucial nutrients should urge us to look at consuming foods to get the required and vital amounts of vitamins. The guidelines differ for certain populations, but they are meant to help us avoid nutrient deficiencies and disease--- and be as healthy as we optimally can.
Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for your body's basic functions. A vitamin is considered to be so vital to your health that without it, a deficiency would cause adverse reactions from mild to severe. For example, vitamin A plays a major role in the functioning ability of the retina. People suffering from vitamin-A deficiency are at risk for cataracts, night blindness and blindness. Therefore, it's essential to consume the proper requirements of vitamin A, as well as all the other vitamins. There are fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B vitamins).
The Food and Nutrition Board is the health arm of the Institute of Medicine, which is a component of the National Academies of Science. The Food and Nutrition Board dispenses advice on health, based on strict scientific evidence. It first developed guidelines for Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) of nutrients in 1941. Every 10 years, these guidelines are re-examined. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) will replace RDAs to emphasize complete nutrition to reduce disease over merely avoiding a deficiency. Vitamins can have either an RDA or an Adequate Intake (AI) level.
There are many benefits to knowing and understanding the nutritional requirements for vitamins. You want to ensure you are at least consuming an adequate intake level so you don't suffer a deficiency. It's also important that you don't over- consume any particular vitamin. There is no need to exceed that level, and it can be toxic to do so. For example, people with a history of liver problems may be especially susceptible to vitamin A toxicity.
The Dietary Reference Intake guidelines are administered by the Food and Nutrition Board. Their recommended intake values are largely based on age and gender. So, there are nutritional requirements for different populations: infants, children, young adults, adult men and women, elderly, pregnant and breast-feeding women. For example, folate is a B vitamin that is responsible for cell growth. It's important in the formation of DNA and the production of red blood cells. The adequate intake level for newborns is about 65 micrograms. For men between 31 and 50, the amount has increased to 400 micrograms. Pregnant women of any age need 600 micrograms.
It is best to get your essential nutrients from whole-food sources instead of dietary supplements. Even though supplements technically provide your daily needs, there are many more nutrients in foods than in the pills. Whole foods provide fiber, which protects against heart disease and helps with constipation, and also phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that have been associated with a decreased risk of cancers and other diseases. If you strive to eat a well-balanced diet that consists of a variety of different foods in moderation, you are probably meeting your vitamin requirements. The exception to this general rule is population groups that have health issues or don't eat enough calories, such as the elderly, pregnant women or women who experience extremely heavy menstrual bleeding.