Vitamins are nutrients that are found in the foods we eat. They’re needed for functions such as growth, metabolism, and nervous system activities.

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Often, a health-promoting diet can provide all the vitamins your body needs, but a vitamin supplement can help if there’s a vitamin you’re lacking. However, vitamins can pose risks and cause side effects, so it’s always important to talk with a doctor before taking them.

Vitamins are found naturally in the foods you eat. The human body uses them to function. They play an important role in supporting a positive health outlook. Typically, a diet that’s balanced and nutrient-filled is enough to get all the vitamins your body needs.

Supplements can help people get essential vitamins if they’re unable to obtain them through their diet.

There are 13 essential vitamins. They’re used throughout the body for different functions. The 13 essential vitamins include:

The benefits of vitamins depend on the specific vitamin. However, getting the daily recommended amount of each vitamin can help keep you healthy. Some key benefits of vitamins include:

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps with your vision and the formation and maintenance of your teeth, bones, skin, and soft tissues.
  • Vitamin B6: B6 helps you maintain healthy brain function and form the red blood cells you need.
  • Vitamin B12: B12 helps maintain your central nervous system, it’s also important for metabolism and for the formation of red blood cells.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps maintain healthy tissue and promotes dental health. It’s also important for wound healing.
  • Vitamin D: You need vitamin D so that your body can absorb enough calcium and develop healthy teeth and bones.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is important for organ function.
  • Vitamin K: Vitamin K helps your blood clot.
  • Thiamine: Thiamine is essential for turning the carbohydrates you eat into energy you can use.
  • Riboflavin: Riboflavin helps your body produce red blood cells.
  • Niacin: Niacin helps maintain your skin and nervous system.
  • Pathogenic acid: Pathogenic acid is important for metabolism and the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Biotin: Biotin helps the body metabolize proteins and carbohydrates and helps the body produce cholesterol and hormones.
  • Folate: Folate helps produce red blood cells and DNA.

Vitamins can sometimes cause side effects. Typically, this happens at high doses. Since vitamins are already in the foods we eat, it can be easy to accidentally take a higher dose of a vitamin than you need. This can lead to side effects, including:

  • a bad taste that lingers in your mouth
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation

You might have additional side effects depending on the type of vitamin you take.

Taking vitamins can have risks. It’s possible to take a very large dose and cause vitamin toxicity or an overdose of a vitamin. It’s also possible that a vitamin could interact with your prescription medications and change how they work.

Some risks of taking vitamins include:

  • vitamin A toxicity when vitamin A is used with retinoid acne medications like Accutane
  • nerve damage after long-term use of high dose vitamin B6
  • reduced effectiveness with phenytoin, an anti-seizure medication, and levodopa, a Parkinson’s medication, when taking vitamin B6
  • dangerously high blood calcium levels when taking vitamin D
  • increased action of blood thinners when taking vitamin E
  • reduced effectiveness of blood thinners when taking vitamin K

Dietary supplements refer to a broad group that includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, probiotics, and other nutrients. Vitamins that you take in the form of pills, tablets, powders, and other add-ons are a type of dietary supplement. Vitamins that naturally occur in the food you eat are not considered supplements.

The exact outlook for taking vitamins depends on the vitamins you take and the reason you’re taking them. For instance, folate is recommended during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of some birth defects and is typically used under the supervision of a medical professional.

However, someone taking a vitamin such as vitamin K or vitamin A without letting their doctor know could be at risk of medication interactions. It’s always best to discuss any vitamin use with a healthcare professional.

Why are vitamins important?

Vitamins help your body with important growth and daily functions.

What are three things vitamins do?

Vitamins play key roles in your metabolism, the health of your bones, and the creation of blood cells.

What food has all 13 vitamins?

There’s no single food that provides all 13 essential vitamins at once. Some foods, such as eggs, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains, are packed with a variety of important vitamins and minerals, but it’s still important to eat a variety of nutritious foods. Check out our guide regarding which foods can help increase some vitamin levels when planning your next meal.

Vitamins are essential nutrients that are found in the food we eat.

Your body needs these nutrients for important functions such as metabolism, creating blood cells, and building bones. Often, a nutritious and varied diet is enough to get all the vitamins your body needs.

Vitamin supplements can be a good choice if there’s a vitamin your diet is lacking, but it’s always important to talk with a doctor or another healthcare professional, such as a registered dietician, before starting vitamin supplementation.