All about vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and Minerals — All You Need to Know!

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds that the body needs for normal growth and activity. They can often be obtained from eating a well-balanced diet that contains a variety of plant and animal foods.

Basic Vitamin Functions

Vitamins serve many functions in the body. Some, like vitamin D affect mineral metabolism while vitamin C may function as an antioxidant. The presence of adequate amounts of vitamins in a person’s body is essential for good health.

Characterization of Vitamins

Vitamins are generally categorized into fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, & K are fat-soluble and may be stored by the body. However, most vitamins are not stored in the body and require a person to consume them continuously for a healthy diet.

Vitamin Deficiency

Poor diets and mal-absorption disorders may lead to vitamin deficiencies. Deficiencies in vitamins can often lead to unwanted health conditions such as rickets, scurvy, and pernicious anemia. All these conditions may be preventable through proper supplementation.

The Essential Vitamins

The following are the essential Vitamins that human body needs to maintain organ activity and stay healthy:

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps to maintain normal vision and healthy skin.

Sources

Vitamin A is found in milk, cheese, liver, kidney, cream and fish liver oil.

RDA

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A is 700-900 micrograms. For pregnant and nursing women it is 1300 micrograms.

2. Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

Thiamine is required for carbohydrate metabolism. It helps support heart and nerve function.

Sources

Vitamin B1 can be obtained from whole grains, meat, fortified bread, cereals and pastas.

RDA

The recommended dietary allowance is 1.1 milligrams for women and 1.2 milligram for men.

3. Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Riboflavin is required for carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. It supports mucous membranes.

Sources

The sources of vitamin B2 are egg, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk and milk products.

RDA

1.1 milligram for women and 1.3 milligrams for men.

4. Vitamin B3 – Niacin

Vitamin B3 aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

Sources

The key sources include dried yeast, liver, whole grains, legumes, and fish.

RDA

The recommended dietary allowance for women is 14 milligrams. For men it is 16 milligrams per day.

5. Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid

Vitamin B5 is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

Sources

Vitamin B5 is found in egg yolk, liver, meat, yeast, and vegetables.

RDA

The RDA for vitamin B5 varies from person to person but a 5 milligram daily intake is generally ideal.

6. Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine

Pyridoxine is required for fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It helps in the production of red blood cells and supports nerve function.

Sources

Dried yeast, liver, organ meat, whole grains, and legumes are the main sources of vitamin B6.

RDA

1.5 milligram for women and 1.7 milligram for men is the recommended daily allowance.

7. Vitamin B7 – Biotin

Vitamin B7 helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

Sources

Liver, kidney, egg yolks, fish, milk, yeast, nuts, and legumes are the sources for vitamin B7.

RDA

30 micrograms is a good amount to take everyday.

8. Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid

Vitamin B9 is required for maturation of red blood cells. It is also critical for DNA and RNA synthesis.

Sources

Leafy green vegetable, asparagus, broccoli, and organ meats are the basic food sources.

RDA

400 micrograms is the established dietary allowance for a day.

9. Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin

Cobalamin helps in the fat metabolism. It supports DNA and RNA synthesis; it also ensures healthy nerve functioning.

Sources

Liver, meats, eggs, milk and milk products contain large amounts of vitamin B12.

RDA

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms.

10. Vitamins C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It protects cells from free radicals, promotes healing and healthy growth and also aids iron absorption.

Sources

The key sources are citrus fruits. Green pepper, tomatoes and potatoes are good vegetable sources as well.

RDA

The RDA is 75 milligram for women, 90 milligram for men and smokers should add 35 milligram to keep sustained levels of vitamin C.

11. Vitamin D

Vitamin D promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption. They help the body in mineralization, growth, and repair.

Sources

Cheese, butter, margarine, cream, fortified cereals and milk are the food sources. Sunlight is the mega source of vitamin D.

RDA

The recommended daily allowance is as follows:

-200 IU for 50 yrs or younger

-400 IU for 50-70 yrs

-600 IU for 70 yrs or above

12. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It protects cells and tissues from free radicals and is good for the skin.

Sources

Vegetable oil, wheat germ, leafy vegetables, egg yolk, margarine, and legumes are the best sources.

RDA

The RDA is 22 IU from a natural source and 33 IU from a synthesized source.

13. Vitamin K

Vitamin K stimulates blood clotting in body. This can help prevent hemorrhages.

Sources

Green leafy vegetables are the key sources. Soybeans are also a good source.

RDA

The recommended daily allowance is 65 milligrams for women and 40 milligrams for men.

What are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic chemical elements that enable the body to perform essential functions. Like vitamins, minerals can be obtained through a well-balanced diet, but individuals with certain disorders may be prone to deficiencies.

Basic Mineral Functions

The role of minerals in the body varies greatly. For example, calcium is needed to support strong healthy bones while sodium and potassium function in the body as electrolytes. Iodine, on the other hand, is needed for the body to make thyroid hormones.

Categorization of Minerals

Minerals are often separated into two categories: macro-minerals and trace minerals. The body needs larger amounts of macro-minerals than trace minerals. The macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur, and can be found in the body in abundance. Trace minerals, such as selenium and chromium exist in the body in limited quantities.

Mineral Deficiency

Most people who eat a balanced diet will consume an adequate amount of minerals. However, consuming too much may be very harmful. Your doctor can detect mineral deficiencies by performing a blood or urine test.

The Essential Minerals

Following are the most essential minerals that one must have in his/her diet.

1. Calcium

Calcium forms and maintains bones and its tissues. It also supports muscle health.

Sources

Dairy products are a good source of calcium. Additionally salmon, kale, and broccoli are good sources.

2. Iron

Iron transports oxygen throughout the muscle tissues. It also supports immune system and triggers the formulation of hemoglobin.

Sources

The key source is soybeans. Moreover, lentils, tofu, spinach and beans also provide substantial amounts.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium boosts the production of energy in the body. It also supports and stimulates brains and nerve function.

Sources

Pineapple suffices almost 60% of magnesium requirements in the body. Other sources are soybeans, rye, spinach, and oats.

4. Zinc

Zinc boosts cell development in human body. It supports a healthy immune system and is also  a great player in wound healing.

Sources

Oysters, beef, fortified cereals, and cashews are the sources for zinc.

5. Phosphorus

Phosphorus works with calcium for the development of bones and tissues and performs the function of tissue repairs in the body.

Sources

Milk products, and meat are the main sources.

Conclusions

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients as they help perform hundreds of roles in the body. Remember to keep a balanced diet to obtain these nutrients. You can also  try our vitamins and mineral supplements (click this link), if you are not getting enough in your regular diet to ensure you stay healthy.

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