Vitamins 101

(Photo: Getty)

We all know the very best way to get the nutrients your body needs is through a balanced, healthy diet. But sometimes life gets in the way (we’ve all been guilty of the Happy Hour that turns into the chips-and-queso and margarita dinner a time or three).

A study of 3 million people revealed that less than 1% of participants got enough essential vitamins from their diet alone. So while we should all still be aiming to meet our needs through food, when your diet just isn’t cutting it, supplements can be a great way to fill in the gaps.

But how do you know what exactly your body needs and from where exactly to get it?

First, we’ve helped you identify the top 6 vitamins imperative for proper body functioning.

1. VITAMIN A

What it does: Boosts your immune system, improves vision, cuts risk of heart disease, slows skin aging.

Where to get it: Foods such as cantaloupe, apricots, egg yolk and carrots.

 

(Photo: Getty)

2. VITAMIN B

What it does: Helps maintain metabolism, muscle tone and a sharp mind; provides folic acid which keeps red blood cells healthy and guards against cancer.

Where to get it: If you’re pregnant, you’ll definitely need to take a supplement (most pre-natal vitamins incorporate this important element already). Otherwise, get this vitamin from foods like fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains, asparagus and beans.

3. VITAMIN C

What it does: An antioxidant that serves as a cold fighter, boosts immune system, helps prevent heart disease, prenatal issues and eye illnesses. It’s also known to help wounds heal faster and fend off wrinkles.

Where to get it: Citrus fruits like oranges and strawberries, vibrant colored veggies like Brussels sprouts.

(Photo: Getty)

4. VITAMIN D

What it does: Experts believe it can reduce your risk of breast cancer and offer protection from both ovarian cancer and diabetes. It also plays a role in muscle function.

Where to get it: Milk, orange juice and salmon contain small amounts, but you’ll probably need a Vitamin D supplement to ensure you’re getting the recommended daily dosage.

5. CALCIUM

What it does: Builds strong bone density, strong teeth and noursiehs your nervous system.

Where to get it: Yogurt, milk and cheese pack a good punch, but the average women doesn’t get nearly enough from food and should be taking a calcium supplement of some sort.

(Photo: Getty)

6. IRON

What it does: Keeps anemia at bay (which is a lack of red blood cells).

Where to get it: Some breakfast cereals or iron-rich foods like red meat. If you’re not a meat eater, you should be taking an iron supplement.

Next, we’ve sifted through the endless research to tell you exactly what you need to be taking.

MULTIVITAMIN

If you’re only going to take one pill, make it this nutritional superstar. One dose provides the majority of what a healthy, active woman needs in a day.

Our pick? One A Day Women’s Multivitamin, chosen by both Women’s Health Magazine and ConsumerLab.com as their top Multi.

In addition to a Multi, here are the other recommended supplements from the experts:

  • Calcium supplement
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Fish Oil/Omega 3 supplement