Nutrition

Vitamins and Minerals, what are they?

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Vitamins and Minerals

 

Vitamins

Vitamins are chemicals found in food and can’t be produced by our bodies, therefore they have to be provided by our diets.

We only need a very small amount of vitamins but their intake is essential for all body functions.

Vitamins are divided into two categories:

Water Soluble                                                  Fat Soluble

C                                                                             A

B group                                                                    D            

                                                                               E                             

                                                                               K

The water soluble vitamins are essential helpers for enzymes, without these vitamins, enzymes could not function properly. Vitamin C and B group control all of the chemical processes in our bodies, including the one of extraction of energy from food and the growth of new body tissues.

The fat soluble ones have a more vast range of function and are equally important. Fat soluble vitamins are mainly obtained from animal sources.

Although the fat soluble vitamins come mainly from animal products, it is important to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables to ensure an adequate intake of all vitamins. Some people turn to vitamins and minerals pills in the hope to reach the RDA. A balanced diet should provide all sufficient vitamins and minerals needed by our bodies on a daily basis. Supplementing can also bring to an excess of vitamins in our systems. Whilst an excess of water soluble vitamins is not a real problem as they will be expelled from the body by urine, fat soluble vitamins can be toxic as they are stored, mainly in the liver, and can interfere with normal liver function.

Vitamin deficiency is very rare in developed countries, however recent studies have shown that it can become a problem in young children, particularly if they are fussy eaters, weight conscious teenagers and those people who cut out some foods from their diets altogether.

 Here is a Vitamin Table with the main Vitamins, their functions, the main food sources and what happens in case of deficiency:

Name

Main occurrence

Effectiveness

Lack

Overdosing

Increased need

Characteristics

Daily need

Vitamin A(Retinol)

Cod-liver oil, liver, kidney, milk products, butter, yolk, as provitamine A in carrots

Normal growth, function and protection of skin, eyes and mucous membrane

Growth stop, night blindness

Impaired visions, headache, nausea, vomitus, tiredness, skin change

Smoker, vegetarian, in case of high alcohol consumption, intake of cathartic, birth control pill, antibiotics

Fat-soluble, light and oxygen-sensitively

approx. 1 - 5mg

Vitamin B1(Thiamin)

Wheat germs, wholemeal cereals, peas, heart, pork, barm, oatmeal, liver, brown rice

Important for the nerve system, liver damage, inefficiency, pregnancy, mosquito protection (high-dosed), production of energy, affects the carbohydrates metabolism, important for the thyroid function

Heavy muscle- and nerve disturbances, tiredness, dyspepsias, dropsy, cardiac insufficiency, cramps, paralyses, prickle in arms and legs

none

Diet, youth, pregnant and nursing women, alcohol consumption, intake of birth control pill, antibiotics, chemotherapye

Water-soluble, Thiamin gets destroyed by heat and long storage, but not by freezing. Daily intake of vitamin B1 is important, because the body can´t store B1, which comes over the food

approx. 2mg (At carbohydrates-packed nutrition some more)

Vitamin B2(Riboflavin)

Milk products, Meat, wholemeal cereal, cheese, eggs, liver, sea-fish, green leafy vegetables, whey powder

Important for body growth, untilization of fats, protein and carbohydrates, well for skin, eyes and nails, important energy bringer, oxygen transport

(rarely) skin inflammation, brittle nails, anaemia, callus attrition

not known

Pregnancy, intake of birth control pill and antibiotics, chemotherapy, fever, smoker, old people

Water-soluble, food with Vitamin B2 should be stored cool and dark.

approx. 2 mg

Vitamin B3(Niacin, Nicotine acid)

Barm, peanuts, peas, liver, poultry, fish, lean meat

Building and degradation of fat, protein and carbohydrates, good sleep

Skin and mucosa inflammation, headache, trembling, vertigo, sleep disturbance, depressions, feeling of prickle and deafness in the limbs

(with over 100mg a day) pruritus, nausea, allergies

Labor, fever, nursing women

Water-soluble, effect is outweighed by sugar and alcohol

13 - 16 mg

Vitamin B5(Pantothen acid)

Liver, vegetable, wheat germs, asparagus, crabs, meat, sunflower cores, Pumpernickel

Against turning grey, hair loss, hair and mucous membrane illnesses, necessarily for the dismantling of fat, proteins and carbohydrates

Nerve malfunctions, bad healing of wounds, early turning grey, weakened immune system

Over urine excreted

Old people, pregnant and nursing women, burden, drinking much coffee an tea

Water-soluble, heat-sensitive

approx. 10 mg

Vitamin B6(Pyridoxin)

Bananas, nuts, wholemeal products, yeast, liver, potatos, green beans, cauliflower, carrots

Travel sickness, neuralgia, liver damage, premenstrual syndrome, digestion of protein, most important hormone in pregnancy together with folic acid, detoxication

(rather rarely) intestine problems, bad skin, tiredness, rough corners of the mouth

With intake of this for a longer time in form of tablets it can deposit in the body tissue and lead to nerve damages.

Period of growth, intake of birth control pill, cortisone, during physical and mental load, before the menstruation

Water-soluble, neither heat nor light-resisting

approx. 2 mg

Vitamin B7(Biotin, Vitamin H)

Liver, cauliflower, champignons, wholemeal products, eggs, avocado, spinach, milk

Skin deseases, loss in growth of hairs, liver damage, assists metabolism, carbohydrate and fatty acid activity, together with vitamin K it is needed for building up the clotting factors

States of exhausting, skin inflammations, muscular pains, hair loss, nausea

not known

Intake of birth control pill, antibiotics and cathartics

Water-soluble

approx. 0,5 mg

Vitamin B9(Folic acid, Vitamin M)

Liver, wheat germs, cucurbit, champignons, spinach, avocado

Liver damage, cell division, healing and growth of muscles and cells, protein metabolism

Anaemia, digesting disturbances, disturbances of hair -, bone and cartilage growth

Allgergies, sleep disturbances and bad moods (with more than 15 mg a day)

Pregnant and nursing women, smoker, youth

Water-soluble, do not tolerate with heat, light or oxygen

approx. 160 µg

Vitamin B12(Cobalamin)

Liver, milk, yolk, fish, meat, oysters, quark, barm

Building substance of cytoblast and erythrocyte, nerve pains, skin and mucosa inflammation, liver damage

Aenaemia, nerve disturbances, nervous disturbances, changes in the lung and the spinal marrows

Not possible, because surplus B12 will be excreted by the body

Diabetics, pregnant and nursing women, vegetarian, vegan, intake of birth controll pill, antibiotics and anti cramp means, chemotherapy

Not water-soluble, heatproof

approx. 5 µg

Vitamin C(ascorbic acid)

Dogroses, sea buckthorn, citric fruits, black currants, potatoes, paprika, tomatoes, collard, spinach, vegetables, radish

Inflammation and bleeding-restraining, assists the body's defences, protects cells against chemical destruction, activates enzymes, structure of connective tissue, bones and dental enamel, faster healing of wounds, stabilisation of psyche

Gum-bleed, tiredness, joint pain and headache, bad healing of wounds, lack of appetite, scurvy, inefficiency

In the case of overdosing in form of powder and pills nausea, vomiting and urine stones can be the result.

Smoker, pregnant and nursing women, older people, diets, alcohol consumption, intake of birth control pill, antibiotics, cortisone, analgesics and barbiturates

Water-soluble, oxygen and dryness-sensitively, not for a long time store

approx. 75 mg - 200 mg

Vitamin D(Calciferol)

Cod-liver oil, liver, milk, yolk, butter, sea fish, herring, champignons, avocado

Regulation of calcium- und phosphat household, structure of bone, assits admission of calcium

Bone curvature and softening, increased infection sensitivity, amyasthenia

(only with man-made Vitamin D) Calcium deposists in bones, heart muscle, blood vessels, stomach, headache, vomiting, swindle, gastro-intestinal diseases

Babies, older humans, intake of birth control pill, cathartic, antibiotics, barbiturate

Fat-soluble, light sensitively, heatproof

approx. 5 µg

Vitamin E(Tocopherole)

Sunflowers -, corn -, Soja and wheat germ oil, nuts, flaxseed, salsify, peperoni, collard, avocado

Stabilization of the immune system, anti-inflammatory, cell replacement, protection from radicals, modulates cholesterol level and hormone household, important for blood vessels, muscles and reproduction organs

(rarely) amblyopia, tiredness, amyotrohia, dislike, reproduction problems

(particularly by synthetically manufactured caps) bad healing of wounds, deficiency symptoms, swindle, nausea

intake of cathartics and blood-fat-lowering medicines, high consumption of alcohol

Fat-soluble, it is destroyed by open storage, deep-freezing or cooking with much fat

10 - 30 mg (with fat-enrich nutrition more)

Vitamin K(Phyllochinone)

Eggs, liver, green collard, green vegetable, bulbs, oatmeal, kiwi, tomatoes, cress

Necessary for formation of the blood clotting factors

High doses of vitamin A and E work against vitamin K.

With intake for a longer time, it can become toxid, bleedings, hot flashes, renal diseases

Babies, high consumption of alcohol, intake of birth control pill, antibiotics and carthartics

Fat-soluble, food with Vitamin K schould be stored darkly

approx. 2 mg

 

 

Minerals

Minerals are also chemicals found in our food, they take the name of food minerals. The minerals found in food normally come from solid materials found in rocks and soil. Minerals are the simplest compound found in nature formed by environmental processes and, like vitamins, are essential for optimal body functions and growth. Different minerals help the body’s organs, bone, systems and cells in different ways, some help vitamins and other nutrients to work more efficient in our bodies.

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and some protein sources, such as meats or beans, is enough to provide all the minerals your body needs, however some people have difficulty with absorbing some minerals, such as iron, and have to take supplements to meet their required daily amounts.

Minerals can be divided into two main types: macro elements and trace elements. The names derive from the amount in which they are required in the body.  Macro elements are required in bigger quantities e.g. half a teaspoon whilst trace elements are required in minute quantities invisible to the naked eye.

Macro elements include: calcium, chloride, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and sulphur.  Trace elements include: zinc, iron, copper, chromium, manganese, iodine, copper, cobalt and fluoride. With the exception of iodine, which is found in salt, both macro elements and trace elements can be found in food, mineral water and special pill formulations that can be found over the counter.

Some trace elements have only one specific function therefore are required in very minute quantities. Chromium for instance has the only function to regulate insulin activity. The fact they are needed in such small amounts makes deficiency very unusual. It is not recommended to take more than needed, more will not improve health.

 

Here is a Mineral Table with the main minerals, their functions, the foods they can be found in, the RDA and what happens in case of deficiency:


List Of Minerals & Trace Elements Required By Our Body

Mineral

Benefits

Food Sources

Deficiency Symptoms

CALCIUM

There is an indication, from population surveys in different countries, that adequate calcium intakes may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Adequate amounts may also reduce blood pressure in those who are sensitive to salt consumption.

Stimulates the clotting of blood after injury, and is required for normal nerve and muscle activity

Builds and maintains bone strength, which prevents stress fractures,

Builds and maintains teeth,

Helps regulate heart function,

Assists in muscle growth and contraction.

Milk & milk products, Calcium fortified juices, Beans, Oranges, Broccoli

Spontaneous nerve discharge and tetany (cramps)

RDA: Adults 1200 mg, Children 800 mg, Infants 500 mg, Pregnant & Lactating Women 1200 mg

CHLORINE

Maintains nerve impulses that control the muscles,

Maintains water balance and distribution,

Needed for the production of stomach acid.

Table salt (sodium chloride)

Acid-based imbalance

RDA: Adults 750 mg, Children 600 mg

CHROMIUM

If your diet is high in simple sugars, or you are prone to physical trauma or infection, your diet may be in need of Chromium.

In some individuals it increases the concentration of HDL cholesterol.

It affects many of the body's metabolisms, including: glucose, carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism.

Chromium is found in eggs, beef, whole grains, brewer's yeast as well as molasses.
 

A shortage of chromium may also lead to anxiety, fatigue, glucose intolerance (particularly in people with diabetes), inadequate metabolism of amino acids, and an increased risk of arteriosclerosis.

RDA: 120 mcg is indicated as dosage.

COPPER

Copper may also play a role in the body's thermal regulation, cholesterol metabolism, glucose metabolism, as well as immune & cardiac functions

Copper is part of an antioxidant enzyme.

It affects many of the body's functions, including: iron metabolism, the nervous system, bone health, and protein synthesis.

It also affects pigments in the skin, eyes, and hair.

Copper is made available from a variety of foods, such as whole grain, liver, molasses, and nuts, but water from copper pipes will also carry copper in it, and copper cooking utensils will also add more copper to be ingested.

If copper is deficient in the body, iron is also normally in short supply, leading to anaemia as well as the likelihood for infections, osteoporosis, thinning of bones, thyroid gland dysfunction, heart disease as well as nervous system problems.

RDA: 2 mg per day is required.

IRON

Along with protein, helps form haemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs through the blood to the body tissues, which includes the muscles.

Iron is an essential part of haemoglobin (the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen). It is also involved in energy metabolism.

 

Beef, Lamb, Pork, Leafy green vegetables, Iron fortified cereals, Breads

Anaemia, decreased oxygen transport, and energy loss

Anaemia develops from iron deficiency, and it is a major problem around the world. It most commonly occurs in young children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

RDA: Men 10-12 mg, Women 15 mg, Children 10 mg, Pregnant Women 30 mg

IODINE

If you have an under-active thyroid try and avoid large amounts of raw cabbage, peaches, pears, spinach and Brussels sprouts as they may block the absorption of iodine.

Goiter is not always the cause of iodine deficiency, but can in some cases be caused certain micro-organisms.

Iodine is a part of the thyroid hormone, and as a part of that hormone it helps regulate growth, development, and energy metabolism.

 

Iodine is found in eggs, milk, shellfish, sea fish and sea food, sea vegetables - such as kelp, asparagus etc. and in certain countries, salt

If your diet does not include salt or seafood, iodine supplements would be in order.

When iodine is deficient the thyroid gland enlarges (referred to as a goitre) to maximize the amount of iodine to be extracted from the blood, and if this problem is not corrected, a shortage of this hormone in the body may lead to constipation, obesity, weakness, mental slowness as well as mental problems.

RDA: 150 mcg per day is indicated as dosage.

MAGNESIUM

This mineral is involved in energy metabolism (ATP) and DNA, a genetic material.

The functional significance of magnesium in bone has yet to be determined, even though that's where sixty percent of the body's magnesium is located.

Magnesium is required for normal muscle and nerve activity.

Aids in the body's energy production,

Combats stress,

Assists in bone growth,

Helps regulate body temperature.

Bananas, Green vegetables, Corn, Apples, Whole wheat bread

Increased nervous system irritability, vasodilation, and arrhythmias

The adequate intake of magnesium may help to control blood pressure, while low levels of magnesium has been found in those who have migraines.

RDA: Men 350 mg, Women 300 mg, Children 150-200 mg, Infants 40-60 mg

MANGANESE

Required for the normal development of your bones and connective tissues.

It is part of an enzyme that is involved in the breaking down of carbohydrates, and the synthesis of fatty acids.

It is found in nuts, avocados, eggs, brown rice, spices, whole grains, leafy greens as well as tea and coffee.

A manganese deficiency may contribute to poor bone health, increasing your chances of osteoporosis.

RDA: 2 mg per day

MOLYBDENUM

High rates of oesophageal cancer have been reported in regions where the soil levels of molybdenum are low as well as vitamin C intake - although this does not clinically prove that molybdenum might be involved with prevention of certain cancers.

Molybdenum is an essential nutrient for many of your body's enzymes.

Molybdenum may affect the metabolism of one type of hormone-glucocorticoid.

Milk, lima beans, spinach, liver, grain, peas and other dark green leafy vegetables contain molybdenum.

Deficiencies of molybdenum are identified by the absence of the three molybdenum enzymes.

The absences of sulphite oxidase in metabolic disorder can lead to death at an early age.

RDA: 250 mcg per day

PHOSPHORUS

Phosphorous regulates the energy release from foods, and is a component of ATP, the body's major energy source, and DNA, a genetic material.

Phosphorous has been shown to decrease lead absorption and is abundant in many types of food.

Helps in almost every chemical reaction in the body, assists in the use of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy,

Stimulates heart and muscle contractions,

Along with calcium, phosphorous forms bones and teeth.

Prevents tooth decay.

Meats, Fish, Chicken, Eggs, Whole grains, Chocolate!

Loss of energy and cellular function

RDA: Adults 1200 mg, Children 800 mg

POTASSIUM

Aids in the conversion of glucose to glycogen,

Nourishes the muscles,

Stimulates the kidney to get rid of body wastes.

Bananas, Green leafy vegetables, Oranges, Potatoes, Raisins, Dried beans

Muscle weakness, abnormal electrocardiogram, and alkaline urine

RDA: Adults 2000 mg, Children 1500 mg

SODIUM

With water, helps retain fluids that counteract dehydration,

Helps our bodies produce a thirst sensation so we'll drink more fluids.

Seafood, Poultry, Carrots, Beets

Nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and dizziness

RDA: Adults 500 mg, Children 400 mg

SELENIUM

Selenium is part of an enzyme system, and acts as an antioxidant.

Boosts your immune system and helps protect your body from cancer.

Selenium is also important to the metabolism of thyroid hormones.

Seafood, liver, lean meats, grains

No specific symptoms

RDA: Men 70 mcg, Women 55 mcg, Children 20 - 30 mcg, Infants 10 - 15 mcg, Pregnant Women 65 mcg, Lactating Women 75 mcg

ZINC

Zinc is an important part of growth and development.

Helps remove carbon dioxide from exercising muscles,

Protects against pollution.

 

It affects many of the body's major functions, including: protein synthesis & digestion, wound healing, healthy bones, and the synthesis of DNA.

It moderates the functions of the immune system, and is a major component in the antioxidant enzyme systems of your body.

Lean meats, liver, eggs, seafood, whole grains, dairy products

May be cause of anaemia, retardation in growth, and delayed genital maturation

The elderly are at risk of zinc deficiency because as we get older our ability to absorb & utilize zinc decreases.

RDA: Men 15 mg, Women 12 mg, Children 10 mg, Infants 5 mg

* RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance