What are the differences between Vitamins and Phytonutrients?
Most of the common mistakes of the people are that they do not know the differences of vitamins and phytonutrients. They always say “I have multi vitamins and it has everything in it” or “I have Centrum and it has Vitamins from A to Z” and most people claimed that they don’t need anymore of that phytonutrients since their multi vitamins has EVERYTHING it and it will keep them healthy. So, here is the difference between these two commonly-confused compounds and detail the importance of each.
VITAMINS: It is derived from the word “vitamine” which means “vital to life”. By definition, vitamins are substances that are need for life. So what are the functions of the vitamins then?
1. They are essential for the normal growth and development of our body. These vitamins must also be consumed in adequate amounts to support normal body functions throughout the lifespan. The Food and Drug Administration determines the recommended daily amount of vitamins that should be eaten each day (That is why our parents always told us when we are little to “EAT YOUR VEGETABLES AND FRUITS BECAUSE IT IS NUTRITIOUS AND HAS LOTS OF VITAMINS FOR YOU TO BECOME STRONGER AND TALLER WHEN YOU GROW UP”.
2. Vitamins are required by our body to keep it healthy and strong ( This is one of the reason why professional athletes and body builders and have a strict diet during competition, they choose, a diet consists of different vegetables and fruits that contains different class of vitamins.
3. Vitamins plays a role in all of our body’s metabolic processes and the areas of health that they support are:
• Vitamin A: vision, skin, hair, bones, immunity
• Vitamin C: antioxidant
• Vitamin D: bones, teeth
• Vitamin E: antioxidant
• Vitamin K: blood clotting
• B vitamins including B-6, B-12, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin: energy production, red blood formation, nervous system
A deficiency in any one of these vitamins can result in poor health. For example, if any of these vitamins are eaten in adequate amounts, but Vitamin A intake is low, night blindness and lowered immunity may be the result.
Some facts about vitamins are:
1. Our body cannot produce most of the vitamins so we need to ingest it through foods or food supplements (vitamins pills).
2. Deficiencies of the vitamins can caused immediate detrimental effects ( You will experienced more leg cramps if you are low in potassium, that’s is why banana will relieve you from leg cramps and prevent leg cramps)
CLASSES OF VITAMINS
1. Fat Soluble Vitamins – VITAMINS A, D ,E , K
a. These Vitamins can be stored in the body up to six months ( you don’t need to consume it everyday)
b. Fats or lipids help these vitamins to absorb better in intestinal tract (this is the reason why its called fat soluble vitamins)
c. Prone to develop hypervitaminosis since these vitamins can accumulate in the body (Too much of everything is bad right?)
2. Water Soluble Vitamins– Vitamins B complex (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Pyridoxine, Biotin, Folic acid, Cyanocobalamin, and Vitamin C)
a. These vitamins can be excreted in our body through urine (So even your intake of these vitamins are too much, the excess will just be remove through your body by peeing, so suffering for hypervitaminosis are rare unlike in the fat soluble vitamins)
b. Since it water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored, you have to take it again the every single day. (Which is hard in these days)
c. Alcohol decreases the level of all water-soluble vitamins. (That is why there is a commercials that says take these vitamins C if you are smoking)
To summarize: we need vitamins to maintain normal functions in our body and for our daily activities like standing, walking, running balance, vision, energy release and many more.
PHYTONUTRIENTS: The prefix “Phyto” is from the Greek and means plant, and it is used because Phytonutrients are compounds found ONLY in PLANTS (Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, etc) that have been shown to be necessary for sustaining human life and improve human Health.
Phytonutrients contain disease-preventing compounds that strengthen immunity and offer anti-aging benefits. The specific effects of phytonutrients in the body vary tremendously, ranging from antioxidants to hormone metabolism to anti-carcinogen activity.
Phytonutrients are categorized based on their structure or their function. The major classes of phytonutrients classes are:
The indoles are found in foods that contain high vitamin C levels. Indoles work in synergy with vitamin C to offer many health benefits including anti-carcinogenic effects, inhibition of free radical activity, aiding in hormonal balance, and enhancing cell nourishment.
Examples of phenols include resveratrol and isoflavones. Phenols serve to prevent oxidative damage from free radicals. They also have a strong protective role in the cardiovascular system including lowering blood pressure, clot formation, and vascular inflammation. The isoflavones have been shown to reduce the risk for osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease.
Phytosterols are found in green and yellow vegetables. Their primary function is to block cholesterol absorption and to rid the body of extra cholesterol, both of which may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Phytosterols are also strong anti-carcinogens, especially helpful in the prevention of prostate, colon, and breast cancer.
Terpenes are found in green fruits and vegetables as well as in soy products and grains. Terpenes are strong antioxidants that protect against free radical proliferation and tumor growth. Beta-carotene is a terpene that reduces the risk of macular degeneration and various cancers including lung, colorectal, breast, uterine and prostate
Thiols are found in onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables. The thiols also prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. Thiols can also inhibit the activity of toxins produced by certain bacteria.
The concept of food synergy is now a well-accepted term in the scientific community. Food synergy is the synergistic influence of foods and the components found in foods on human health.
So, To fight the diseases like flu, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure etc. and for longer life….You need Phytonutrients everyday.