Vitamins and Minerals

The body requires vitamins to function properly and to stay healthy. Vitamins and minerals are available in animal and plant-based foods. Vitamins occur in either fat-soluble or water-soluble forms. The liver’s bile acids break down and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. The body absorbs water-soluble vitamins easily and with no further help.

Vitamin Types

Vitamin A has various beneficial; actions in our bodies:

1. It sustains and improves our vision

2. It helps in bone growth

3. It helps in the functioning of our body’s cells.

The best way of obtaining Vitamin A in food is from beta-carotene, which the human body processes into natural Vitamin A. This is superior to taking Vitamin A supplements.

The very essential Vitamin B is not a single element. It consists of eight separate vitamins. These are:

1. Vitamin B1

2. Vitamin B2

3. Vitamin B3

4. Vitamin B5

5. Vitamin B6

6. Vitamin B7

7. Vitamin B9, and

8. Vitamin B12

Together, the Vitamin B group bolsters the metabolism, maintains good skin and muscle tone, helps the immune and nervous system and boosts cell growth. Good sources of Vitamin B are bananas, potatoes, lentils and chili peppers. Tuna fish, liver and turkey, and tuna also provide it Vitamin supplements are a good way to make them available to the body.

The body requires Vitamin C to fight a number of infections such as colds. Vitamin C also keeps blood vessels healthy and aids the proper development of teeth, gums and bones. Many foods contain adequate amounts of Vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli.

Vitamin D helps maintain the body’s required supply of phosphorus and calcium. This helps in good development of bones and keeps certain kinds of cancers at bay, too. Vitamin D is not easily available in a vegetarian diet. It occurs much more in fish like tuna and salmon. Dairy products are also a rich source of Vitamin D.

The antioxidant Vitamin E occurs naturally in peanut butter, almonds and other nuts, egg yolks and avocados. It is one of the body’s primary lines of defense against cell and tissue damage and aids blood circulation, too. Most of us have enough Vitamin E in our diets and its intake should not be overdone. Vitamin E overdose can cause nausea and stomach upsets.

We obtain our requirement of Vitamin K from leafy green vegetables and many cooking oils, too. Vitamin K helps maintain the proteins that regulate blood clotting. It also assists proper development of our bones.

Daily Vitamin Requirements

We need all these vitamins on a daily basis. The best diet to supply them includes whole grains, fruits and green vegetables. Vitamin supplements are not adequate sources of regular vitamins, though they provide some extra nutrients. Multivitamins are valid options only if one’s diet does not supply enough required vitamins. Many of us can develop Vitamin B6, B12, D and E and folic acid deficiencies. Use vitamin substitutes only under medical supervision.

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