VITAMINS AND MINERALS: WHAT DO THEY DO, AND WHICH SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD I TAKE?
We all know that vitamins and minerals are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet, with many of us taking extra supplements in order to help with our lifestyles. But not all of us know exactly why they are considered to be important.
What Are Vitamins And Minerals?
Vitamins and Minerals are both micronutrients, which means the body requires them in small amounts to perform certain functions. Each group for represents one of the four essential nutrient groups for the human body (along with essential amino acids and fatty acids). There are slight differences between the two:
Vitamins are organic chemical compounds made up of a number of chemical elements that the body can’t produce itself. Vitamins often have a number of names; they will be known by their letter (e.g. Vitamin C) as well as by their chemical name (ascorbic acid).
On the other hand, Minerals are singular chemical elements. Minerals also are not produced by the body. So if you see something that sounds like a metal (like iron or potassium), you can tell it’s a mineral.
The function of all of them will vary, but often they will contribute to a number of different processes within the body.
Where Do We Get Vitamins and Minerals?
Both are found in different sources through our diet, with foods being rich in certain sources of these compounds. For example, Spinach contains a rich source of Vitamins A, C and K, as well as the mineral Iron. For more examples, see the list below.
However, it is common to use supplements to boost intake of certain vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have dietary restrictions. Often, these supplements will come in tablet or liquid form, and mostly available without a prescription.
Commonly you’ll also find multi-vitamins available, which will combine a number of minerals and vitamins and meaning that you don’t need to take a separate dose for everything. It is common to find some combinations (such as Iron with Vitamin C) where one will aid the absorption of the other.
NutriBrio supplements derive their vitamins and minerals from natural sources, such as fruits and plants. Not only does this avoiding artificial chemicals, but is gentle on the digestion and effectively absorbed.
Why Are They Important
Like mentioned earlier, different minerals and vitamins will perform different functions in the body, with some being used for many things. So just because you may get a lot of some, doesn’t mean you are covered for all vitamins and minerals. Getting the full range is very important for the body’s function. See the list further on which describes what each of the major vitamins and minerals contributes to.
Some people suffer from deficiencies in some mineral or vitamin areas which, if ignored, could cause short-term and long-term issues for health. It is common for people who have dietary restrictions, like allergies, or a vegan diet. These are situations where specific supplements can be very beneficial and will aid in correcting deficiencies and preventing them from occurring in the future.
Here is a breakdown of the common Vitamins and Minerals, what they do within the body, example food sources as well as what a deficiency may cause:
- Vitamin A is important in immunity, vision and skin health. A deficiency can lead to eye and vision issues. Vitamin A is commonly found in Fish and yellow or orange fruits and vegetables like Carrots and Squashes.
- Vitamin B: The B group is broken into 8 different vitamins. They are generally used in breaking down food and for good nerve function.
- B1 is known as Thiamin. Deficiency is rare, but can be serious and cause Beriberi. Found in Brown Rice, Wholegrains, pork, potatoes
- B2 aka Riboflavin is found in Dairy, Bananas and Green Beans. Deficiency can result in skin rashes, swelling around the mouth and face and anaemia.
- B3 or Niacin deficiency leads to Pellagra is an illness defined by painful skin rashes and psychiatric symptoms, in untreated cases it can kill, but is uncommon in the UK. Commonly, Niacin is found in a variety of vegetables, Mushrooms and Eggs.
- B5 is also known as Pantothenic Acid. Avocado, Broccoli and Meat are common sources of B5. Deficiency can lead to nerve issues and numbness.
- B6 sometimes is called pyridoxine. It contributes to healthy blood cells and respiration. Tree Nuts (like Almonds, Cashews and Hazelnuts) as well as Bananas contain this vitamin. Anaemia is a mark of deficiency along with limbs feeling numb.
- B7 is called Biotin. It is produced by your body’s stomach bacteria but can, strangely, be found in raw egg yolk as well as peanuts and leafy greens.
- B9, also called Folate helps with blood cell production and can be important for pregnant women for the child’s health. Deficiency can cause illnesses in babies, like spina bifida. Pasta, cereals, bread are great sources, along with leafy greens.
- B12: is used in producing red blood cells and aids in using folic acid. Anaemia is a problem caused by deficiency in this vitamin. Meat and fish, eggs, dairy all provide B12. There are few plant based sources.
- Vitamin C: Contributes to the immune system and repair of tissue. Fruit and Vegetables commonly contain rich Vitamin C sources, like Oranges and Spinach. Scurvy is a deficiency of Vitamin C, and leads to weak teeth, gums and loss of hair.
- Vitamin D: Bone problems can arise with severe Vitamin D deficiency. Eggs are a good source, as well as fish. Vitamin D is also absorbed through the skin from sunlight.
- Vitamin E is used in fighting illness, as well as maintaining skin and eye function. Due to the very small amount that is required by the body and that it is stored for future, E deficiency is quite rare. It is found in lots of fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and oils.
- Vitamin K: Eggs, leafy greens are both good sources.
- Potassium: Essential for creating energy for cells and for water regulation in the body. A deficiency can cause tiredness and fatigue and nerve irregularities. Bananas are a great source of potassium, as are Avocados, Sweet Potatoes and beans.
- Magnesium: Another mineral used in cell energy, and also for bone health. Muscle spasms, loss of coordination and shaking. Magnesium is found in grains and peanuts, legumes.
- Calcium: Well known as a main component for bones and teeth, but also is important for the heart. Deficiency can cause low bone density over time, leading to weakness. It is found in dairy, eggs, fish, soy and leafy greens.
- Sodium: Sodium and Potassium work together in producing energy for cells. It also is essential for nerve function and water movement in the body. Deficiency (called Hyponatremia) can cause heart irregularities, seizures or, in mild cases, confusion and headaches. The most common source is salt.
- Phosphorus: Wide range of uses, but interestingly used in creating DNA, in bones and energy. Low levels of Phosphorus leads to breathing trouble and fatigue. It can be found in grains and dairy, as well as rice and fish.