According to food and nutrition experts, the food consumed these days does not supply the body with all the nutrients it needs to function optimally. The supply of certain essential vitamins and minerals is significantly low in most diet plans. Different researches have shown that the amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals in fruits and vegetables has been on the decline, dropping by nearly 40% over a period of less than 50 years. As such, the need to take vitamin and mineral supplements has gained recognition.
So what are vitamins and minerals and why are they important?
Vitamins are essential for the synthesis of energy, and the growth and function of cells. Since the body is a mashup of cells, then vitamins play a crucial role in all aspects of body function and health. Our bodies need 13 types of vitamins to function and stay healthy.
The body has 11 systems that work individually and collectively for our overall wellbeing. Of the 11, minerals are essential for the functions of systems such as the nervous system and the skeletal system as well as the proper functions of the metabolic processes that are necessary for the production of energy. Minerals are also important for cell processes.
The Role Of Vitamins And Minerals
From the short overview of vitamins and minerals given above, it is evident that they are essential for every bodily function and process. The two work in symphony to support and enhance the role of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to promote cellular growth and repair, energy production, and the functions of different organs and systems in the body. For instance, some minerals and vitamins are necessary for the formation of vital bodily structures such as bones and bone marrow as well as the white and red blood cells.
A deficiency of these essential nutrients leads to fatigue and lowers the body’s functions as well as the immune system increasing the risk of diseases. While a balanced diet on a daily basis helps ensure that the body gets all the nutrients it needs, the amount of vitamins and minerals in the foods consumed today is inadequate. As such, doctors and nutritionists recommend that use of vitamin and mineral supplements to enhance the nutritional content in our diets so that these essential nutrients can meet their important roles in the body that include:
1. Vitamin A (retinol): It supports bone development, skin health, eye health, reproductive health and the immune system.
2. Vitamin B1 (thiamin): Supports the functions of the nervous and metabolic systems.
3. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): It supports skin health, metabolism, and eye health.
4. Vitamin B3 (niacin): It is essential for the functions of the digestive, nervous and metabolic systems. It also promotes tissue health.
5. Biotin: The body needs it for the synthesis of fats and glycogen as well as the metabolic processes.
6. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): It promotes metabolism and can be found in most foods.
7. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): It is crucial in the production of red blood cells and the synthesis of fats and amino acids.
8. Vitamin B12: It is required for the formation of new cells and breaking down amino acids and fatty acids. It also is essential for the functions of the nerve cells and the nervous system.
9. Folate: It is essential of the formation of new cells and DNA synthesis.
10. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): It promotes immunity, metabolism and the synthesis of collagen as well as the absorption of the iron mineral.
11. Vitamin D: It is required for the self-synthesis of bone mineralisation through exposure to sunlight.
12. Vitamin E: Its role in the body is to support the stabilisation of cell membrane and the regulation of oxidation reactions.
13. Vitamin K: It supports the regulation of blood calcium and the synthesis of blood-clotting proteins.
1. Sodium: It helps in the maintenance and balance of electrolytes and body fluids, promotes the transmission of nerve impulses, and supports the contraction of muscles.
2. Chloride: It supports that maintenance and balance of fluids and electrolytes while also promoting digestion.
3. Potassium: It supports the transmission of nerve impulses and the contractions of muscles, promotes cell integrity as well as the balance and maintenance of electrolytes.
4. Calcium: It promotes the bone health and blood clotting.
5. Phosphorus: It promotes the balance of acid-base in the body and supports the formation of bones and cells.
6. Magnesium: It is essential for protein building and bone mineralisation, and it supports the transmission of nerve impulses as well as the contraction of muscles.
7. Iron: It is an essential part of the production and functions of the protein haemoglobin which transports oxygen to the cells via the blood.
8. Zinc: It is necessary for sperm production in men and the proper development of the foetus in women. It also supports the transportation of vitamin A and is essential for cell repair.
9. Selenium: It works alongside vitamin E to fight oxidation.
10. Iodine: It is one of the critical components of the thyroid hormones that support cell development.
11. Copper: It promotes iron absorption, the functions of several enzymes and the formation of haemoglobin.
12. Manganese: It supports the growth and functions of different cells.
13. Fluoride: The body needs it for bone formation and health; it especially helps prevent tooth decay.
14. Chromium: It is one of the primary components that are essential for the production and regulation of insulin as well as energy metabolism.
15. Molybdenum: It promotes cellular functions.
The Health Benefits Of Vitamins And Minerals In Your Diet
The above are the key roles that vitamins and minerals play in our bodies. From this, we can appreciate the different health benefits that these essential nutrients offer, which include:
• Supporting Metabolism
Metabolism is the process of converting the foods we consume into energy the body needs to function. It is a complex process run by certain enzymes with the support of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the body needs a substantial supply of these nutrients for digestion and metabolic processes.
• Promoting Tissue Strength
From the bones to the muscles to the skin, the body is a mesh of cells that form different tissues and structures. The growth, development of functions of cells is made possible through the presence of various minerals and vitamins in the body. As such, tissue formation and strength depend on these essential nutrients. With strong and healthy tissues, the body is to wade off pathogens that may infect the internal organs and systems.
• Heart Health
Some vitamins help lower the risk of inflammations thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and related complications. Consuming a diet with a high amount of fruits and raw vegetables is vital for the promotion of heart health and function.
The reproductive health and fertility of both men and women depend on vital functions of different organs, hormones, body structures and systems; all these need various vitamins and minerals to stay at their optimal capacities. Vitamins C and E, as well as minerals such as selenium and zinc, are essential for fertility and reproductive health.
• Bone Health
Vitamins and minerals are essential in the development and maintenance of bone health. They promote the growth of bones as well as bone strength while preventing bone diseases. The toughness of bones is attributed to certain minerals such as phosphorus and calcium among others along with Vitamins D and K.