Vitamins and Minerals: An Overview

Vitamins and minerals are vital to a healthy body. The primary role of these nutrients is metabolic functions. The best way to ensure one gets the variety and the quantity of vitamins needed is by eating a wide variety of natural, unprocessed foods. Heating, cooking, and frying will destroy delicate vitamins.

Vitamins are usually categorized into two types. Fat soluble, which means they are stored in the fat in the body, and water soluble, which are stored in the water in the body.

Water soluble vitamins include C, B complex, riboflavin, niacin, folate. Because water is constantly flushed out of the body, these vitamins are not stored for very long. This means that they need to be consumed regularly. These vitamins are also much more susceptible to destruction through food processing and storage.

Fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Because these vitamins are stored in fat they remain in the body for a long time. Because of this they can sometimes reach toxic levels, especially if one takes vitamin supplements. Excessive amounts can cause serious health problems and can even be fatal, especially in infants and children. Fat soluble vitamins are much less likely to be destroyed by food preparation such as heating.

There is great debate as to whether or not supplements are beneficial. If you decide to take supplements it is always a good idea to consult your physician, especially if you suffer from any medical conditions.

Minerals are also vital to a healthy body and help with avoiding disease. Minerals are needed in much lower quantities than vitamins and must be consumed on a regular basis. It is unclear as to how much of each mineral one needs so the best way to ensure proper consumption is to eat a wide variety of fresh foods.

Minerals can be divided into two categories: macro and trace minerals. Macro refers to minerals that are needed in larger quantities. This includes calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, and sulfur. Examples of trace minerals includes iron, iodine, fluoride, selenium, and manganese.

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