The benefits of vitamins and minerals are numerous.
Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs in small amounts for normal growth, function and health. Together, vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients. Your body can’t make micronutrients, so you must get them from the foods you eat or, in some cases, from supplements.
You need vitamins for normal body functions, mental alertness and resistance to infections. They enable your body to process proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Certain vitamins also help you produce blood cells, hormones, genetic material and chemicals in your nervous system.
Providing fuel (calories) is not one of the benefits of vitamins, but they do help your body release and use calories from food.
There are 14 vitamins, which fall into two categories:
Fat-soluble. Vitamins A, D, E and K. They’re stored in your body’s fat. Some excess fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, can accumulate in your body, cause problems, and reach toxic levels.
Water-soluble. Vitamin C and the seven B vitamins: thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), folic acid/folate (B-9) and cobalamin (B-12). They’re stored to a lesser extent than are fat-soluble vitamins.
A vitamin may occur in different forms. For example, vitamin A occurs as retinal in animal products and as carotenoids in plants. This may account for different results seen in nutrition studies. Nutrition experts are exploring the roles that each vitamin form plays in health.
Vitamin A benefits:
- Promotes normal vision, and helps your eyes see normally in the dark.
- Promotes the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout your body.
- Protects your from infections by keeping skin and tissues healthy.
- Helps regulate the immune system.
- Works as an antioxidant in the form of carotenoids.
Carotenoids, such as alpha carotene and beta carotene, come from foods of plant origin. Certain carotenoids are modified to form vitamin A in your body.
Carotenoids are found in red, yellow, orange, and many dark-green leafy vegetables.
Beta carotene from fruits and vegetables are okay, however taking vitamin A supplements can be harmful if taken in excess.
Because it’s stored in your body, large intakes of vitamin A, taken over time, can be quite harmful: headaches, dry and scaly skin, liver damage, bone and joint pain, vomiting or appetite loss, abnormal bone growth, nerve damage, and birth defects.
These symptoms more likely result from high intakes of vitamin A from dietary supplements.
According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, the conversion of carotenoids to vitamin A has been overestimated. Anotherwords, you need to eat MORE fruits and vegetables to get the body’s vitamin A needs.
Just another reason we recommend whole FOOD supplements containing, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D is important for the absorption and maintenance of normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous. Vitamin D is also required for healthy bones and teeth, especially in children. You can get vitamin D from oily fish and fortified dairy products. It is also produced in your skin as a response to sunlight. Growing children who don’t get adequate levels of vitamin D can develop rickets, a condition characterized by long and soft, bowed legs. In addition, vitamin D deficiency can cause muscular weaknes and weak bones, as well as increase your risk of some cancers and autoimmune diseases. The RDA for vitamin D is 5 mcg for children and adults, and 10 to 15 mcg for adults older than 51 years.
Vitamin E Benefits
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects your red blood cells, essential fatty acids and vitamins A and C from destruction. Vitamin E supplements might also help lower your risk for heart disease and cancer, according to the “Colorado State University.” Deficiency of vitamin E is rare but can lead to anemia. You can get vitamin E in oil, margarine, green leafy vegetables, whole grain, nuts and eggs. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E as alpha-tocopherol is 15 mg for adults.
Vitamin K Benefits
Vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting and healthy bones. Vitamin K deficiency may occur in infants and people who use antibiotics and anticoagulants and can lead to hemorrhaging or excessive bleeding. Vitamin K is produced in your intestine by normal intestinal bacteria, and you can also get vitamin K from foods like green vegetables, spinach, cabbage, broccoli and oil. The adequate daily intake for vitamin K is 80 mcg.
Additional Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals
You body also needs minerals. Major minerals (those needed in larger amounts) include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are important in the development and health of bones and teeth.
Sodium, potassium and chloride, known as electrolytes, are important in regulating the water and chemical balance in your body. In addition, your body needs smaller amounts of chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. These are all necessary for normal growth and health and are the major benefits of vitamins and minerals.
Having the right balance of vitamins and minerals in your body is essential. Prolonged vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause specific diseases or conditions, such as night blindness (vitamin A deficiency), pernicious anemia (vitamin B-12 deficiency) and anemia (iron deficiency). A poor diet can contribute to these deficiencies.
Having a well balanced diet and including the right vitamins and minerals supplements can help you achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The vitamins and minerals supplement that we personally use is a whole food based beverage product that provides balanced nutrition in every scoop.
It can be used in any number of ways: as a healthful “on-the-go” breakfast, pre-exercise energy drink, post-workout recovery drink, a late night snack, or a complete meal replacement to help you watch your weight.
By Phil Downing
Personal Trainer in Liverpool