Five vitamins everyone should take in their 20s

It took me too long to understand the importance of vitamins in my daily routine. Now, I can't live without them. I notice a huge difference in my energy, appetite, and cognitive abilities (like focus and mental clarity) when I've run out the door in the morning and forgotten to take my handful of healthy helpers.

Being in my late 20s, my days are short and my list of demands are long...and I don't always manage to stick to a health, nutrient-rich diet every day. Here are five vitamins that help ensure my body and brain are functioning at their best, so I can function at mine.

1. Vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning that the body only uses what it needs. So you can take lots of it and your body naturally eliminates (pees out) the excess. Vitamin C helps maintain adequate nutrition and proper iron absorption. It is naturally found in citrus fruits and leafy greens, but even a healthy helping of both won't give you quite enough. Women over 20 years old are suggested to take 75 mg per day, while men are suggested to closer to 90 mg per day.

2. Vitamin D plays an instrumental role in protecting bones. Vitamin D's main function is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus - which ensures optimal bone health. Naturally it is present in fish, milk, and eggs but the best source of vitamin D comes from sun exposure through the skin. Ten minutes of sun exposure three times a week is optimal, but if you live in a rainy city like I do (Raincouver, we fondly call it) an alternative is taking a multivitamin with vitamin D at 5 micrograms per day.

3. Calcium By the 20s, bones are near full skeletal mass; however, as an individual ages, bone mass declines. Starting a calcium supplement in the 20s is important for both men and women to maintain strength and prevent later development of osteoporosis.

4. A multivitamin acts as a whole body top up. You can eat as healthy as you'd like and you'd still be missing key nutrients in your diet - a multivitamin helps balance that loss. It comes packed with small doses of dozens of vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal overall health and energy. Make sure to find a multivitamin catered to your age, gender, and physical needs.

5. Omega-3s from fish oil can significantly improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Their anti-inflammatory properties also enhance cognitive performance, which is is needed during those early professional years.

6. (This one is an addition for women looking to have children) Folic Acid is very important for women hoping to have children. It is important to take it before trying to get pregnant as low levels of folic acid can lead to a number of birth defects.

A healthy and well-balanced diet is your key to fuelling up with the nutrients - but that's not always realistic with a demanding schedule and Whole Foods may not be in the budget. It is so important to start supplementing your diet with a variety of vitamins and minerals to ensure you're physical and mental health are functioning at their highest.

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