Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are vital nutrients our bodies require for proper functioning. They help boost our immune system, support normal growth and development, and aid in cell and organ function.

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic substances that are made by plants or animals. There are two types of vitamins:

1. Fat-soluble

  • These vitamins dissolve in fat and are stored in our bodies.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E and K.
    • Vitamin A helps our eyesight and immune system
    • Vitamin D helps our body to absorb calcium, contributing to strong bones
    • Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps prevent cell damage
    • Vitamin K aids in blood clotting, so when we cut ourselves we don’t bleed out!

2. Water-soluble

  • These vitamins need to dissolve in water before our bodies can absorb them. This means we can’t store water-soluble vitamins, so we need a fresh supply from our diet every single day.
  • Water-soluble vitamins are Vitamins B and C.
    • Vitamin C has many functions that contribute to our overall health and well-being
    • There are actually eight different B Vitamins that contribute to our blood health, brain function and energy production.

Minerals

Minerals are inorganic substances that come from soil and water and are absorbed by plants, which animals can then eat.

  • Calcium – important in building strong bones and teeth
  • Iron – helps oxygenate our body through the blood
  • Magnesium – helps regulate our heart, keeps bones strong and helps our nerves and muscles function
  • Phosphorous – also contributes to healthy bones and teeth
  • Zinc – gives our immune system strength (why a zinc supplement is often recommended when you feel a cold coming on)
  • Potassium – helps our body maintain an appropriate fluid balance in all its tissues and the blood

What foods contain vitamins and minerals?

Overall, plant materials generally contain the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals. Here is a great chart from one of my textbooks that lists a number of common vitamins and minerals, their recommended daily intake, their functions, significant sources, and signs of deficiency or excess.

*Click on each image to enlarge it

Vitamins1Vitamins2MineralsDo you need to take a vitamin supplement? Maybe, but maybe not! Click to read more!

Read about the other nutrients we need to live: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water

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