Vitamins are life nutrients required to drive cell processes and reactions in our bodies in order to maintain normal growth and development of our cells, tissues and organs. They help regulate our metabolism and assist the biochemical processes to release energy from digested food. Vitamins serve as essential components in enzymes and coenzymes. The best way to think of vitamins is that they act as our body’s “spark plugs” and help it function at high performance.
There are two kinds of vitamins:
- fat-soluble - which include A, D, E and K
- water-soluble vitamins - which include C and B, biotin and folic acid.
Fat-soluble vitamins play diverse roles in our bodies. Vitamins A and D may act like hormones, directing cells to convert one substance to another, or to store or release fluids. Many of their effects are felt in our genes and influence protein production. Vitamin E flows throughout our body, preventing oxidative destruction of tissues, and vitamin K is necessary for our blood to clot.
Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed easily in our bodies, but just as easily excreted from our bodies. It is important to constantly replenish these vitamins for our bodies to be at their optimum vitamin level. Vitamin C performs a variety of functions, but is best known for its work in maintaining the connective tissues, as an antioxidant, and for the way it works in helping iron absorption in our system. B vitamins act as part of a coenzyme, which helps our bodies metabolize carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids. This, in turn, helps our bodies with fuel and facilitates the work or function of every cell.
Vitamins are not a food substitutes; they help stimulate our body, but they do not provide nutrition for fuel.
Overview of vitamins:
There are three kinds of minerals:
- Naturally occurring, inorganic, homogeneous substances or chemical elements
- Major minerals – calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium, chloride, magnesium and iron; trace minerals or essential nutrients – Iiodine, iron, zinc, selenium, fluoride, chromium, copper, manganese, molybenusm, arsenic, boron, nickel, silicon, vanadium and cobalt – found in our bodies in amounts fewer than 5 grams.
All of these minerals play a vital role in our bodies and provide us balance. The distinction between major and trace minerals doesn’t mean that one group is more important than the other. A deficiency of any of these minerals can cause us health problems, but since the major minerals are present in larger quantities and influence the body fluids, a lack of one of these minerals can cause whole body issues.
Overview of minerals:
Dietary supplements are very popular yet researchers are divided on their worthiness. Some experts believe that the risks of not having these supplements outweigh the potential risks from overdosing from daily intake. Others argue that the risks incurred by taking daily supplements are considerable and often unpredictable, because an excess of an isolated vitamin or mineral can produce the same symptom as a deficiency.
Whatever you do, contact your doctor or medical advisor to discuss what’s best for you.
Most experts recognize the importance of supplemental vitamins for adequate health and nutrition due to our diets, over-processed and refined foods, and the use of chemicals in agriculture.
The balance of vitamins and minerals is important to the effectiveness of all vitamins. There is a phenomenon called synergy, whereby two or more vitamins combine to create a stronger, more potent vitamin function.
Do you have dietary mineral or vitamin deficiencies? People most at risk:
- On diets with low-caloric intake
- Anyone on medication
- Elderly people
- Women with excessive menstrual bleeding
- Pregnant or nursing women
- Recently injured people
- People with heart, cholesterol, high blood pressure symptoms