Vitamins and Minerals: Choose the Right Nutrients to Stay Healthy

by Sharon Hopkins

Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Minerals are the basic components that make up all matter and are necessary for the creation of body cells. Minerals are therefore referred to as the building blocks of the body. Vitamins and minerals are required for the growth, development and functioning of the body. The body produces about 200 billion red blood cells and after every 120 days, the blood content in the body is completely replaced. In about 1 to 3 months, the skin undergoes regeneration and bone structure is rebuilt in about 90 days. In order to execute such essential and complex functions, the body needs vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins are of two type, fat soluble and water soluble. Vitamins that are fat soluble are contained in the fatty tissues and liver. They can stay in the body for up to six months. When there is a requirement for these vitamins, they are moved to that specific area. Fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. Unlike, fat soluble vitamins, those vitamins which are water soluble are not stored in the body. They move through the blood stream and the amounts of these vitamins need to be replenished on a daily basis. Water soluble vitamins are the B vitamins and vitamin C. There are many important benefits of vitamins. Vitamin A helps in maintaining health of the skin and hair. It also helps in vision. Since it is a strong antioxidant, it helps to strengthen the immune system. The B vitamins comprise a large group of various vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B6, biotic, niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. These vitamins help in energy production, digestion and cell regeneration. Vitamin C reduces the levels of bad cholesterol and also controls blood pressure. It aids in the body’s absorption of iron and is also helpful in healing of wounds. Vitamin C is beneficial for the immune system as well. Vitamin D is necessary for the health of the bones and teeth. Vitamin E helps to keep the tissues and cells healthy and ensures proper functioning of the liver, skin and eyes. Vitamin K is important for proper blood coagulation and also aids in functioning of the bones and kidneys.

Minerals perform many functions in the body. They are present in the organs, cells and tissues. Minerals are categorized into essential minerals and trace elements. The essential minerals include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, sulfur and potassium. Trace elements include boron, chromium, fluoride, cobalt, iodine, selenium, silicon, copper and zinc. Calcium is necessary for strength of the teeth and bones. Chromium enhances the effects of insulin in metabolism. Copper helps in wound healing and red blood cell formation. Iodine helps to prevent goiter and is also needed by the thyroid gland to function properly. Iron helps in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Magnesium is important for the proper utilization of other nutrients. Minerals play an essential part in the activation or catalysis of enzymes. Mineral deficiencies often result in ailments. Low levels of magnesium and potassium can contribute to heart problems. Minerals help in preventing many illnesses such as arthritis, anemia, cancer, goiter and osteoporosis. Nerve formation requires the presence of minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and sodium. Minerals are also necessary in regulating the bodily fluids within and around the cells. The food we consume is converted into energy with the help of minerals. Inadequate amounts of even one mineral can disrupt normal functions of the cells. Also, other nutrients such as vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats cannot benefit the body unless there are minerals present.

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