Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies use in minute quantities for various metabolic processes. Vitamins and minerals are best obtained by eating various healthy, unprocessed foods.
While taking a general ‘broad-spectrum’ vitamin and mineral supplement poses a little health risk and may benefit someone whose diet is limited and lacks variety, taking vitamin and mineral supplements instead of eating a nutritious diet is not recommended.
They are frequently used as a form of medicine to treat ailments like colds or to combat lifestyle issues like stress. Vitamins, contrary to popular belief, are not drugs or miracle cures. They are organic compounds that take part in a variety of metabolic functions.
Minerals and Vitamins obtained from food
According to research, most vitamins obtained from food are superior to those obtained from pills. Even though vitamins in supplements are synthesized to match the exact chemical composition of naturally occurring vitamins, they do not appear to work as well.
The primary exception is folate. The synthetic form (in the form of a supplement or fortified food) is better absorbed by the body than folate obtained from food sources. Food is a complex source of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals), all of which interact. Supplements tend to work in isolation. According to research, if a food component affects the body, it may not have the same effect when isolated and taken as a supplement.
Supplements tend to work in isolation. According to research, if a food component affects the body, it may not have the same effect when isolated and taken as a supplement. This could be because other food components, not just the ‘active ingredient,’ influence the vitamins and minerals in foods.
Phytochemicals are an essential component of food and are thought to lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Supplements do not provide the benefits of phytochemicals and other food components. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is not a replacement for a nutritious diet.
Mineral and vitamins deficiency
Every day, our bodies only require a small number of vitamins and minerals. A varied diet usually provides adequate amounts of each vitamin and mineral. Some people, however, may require supplements to correct vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which include:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- People who smoke, drink excessively or use illegal drugs
- Crash dieters or those on rigorous diets.
- Older people (especially those who are disabled or chronically ill)
- Some vegans or vegetarians.
- Women who have heavy periods.
- Those are suffering from food allergies.
- Those suffer from malabsorption issues (such as diarrhoea, coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis).
- Vitamin A is essential because it:
- Improves the immune system’s ability to fight disease and infections.
- Maintains the health of our skin.
- Helps with reproduction and growth.
- Aids in vision.
Vitamin A sources:-
Vitamin A activity can be found in various compounds in both animal and plant foods. Plant foods are easy to identify because they contain the orange/yellow pigment beta-carotene.
- Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are examples of plant sources (carrots, red capsicum, mangoes, sweet potatoes, apricots, pumpkin and cantaloupe)
- Spinach, peas, and broccoli are examples of leafy green vegetables.
- Liver eggs, fortified milk, and milk products are examples of animal sources (with added vitamin A)
B-group vitamins assist our bodies in utilizing energy-producing nutrients (such as carbohydrates, fat, and protein) as fuel. Some B-group vitamins are required to assist cells in multiplying by creating new DNA.
Except for B-12 and folate, which are stored by the liver, the body cannot store most B-group vitamins. They must be consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet that includes a variety of whole foods (such as lean meat, fish, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes) and limits alcohol and processed foods consumption.
The eight types of vitamin B are as follows:
- Thiamin (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Pyridoxine (B6)
- Biotin (B7)
- Folate or ‘folic acid’ when supplemented (B9), Cyanocobalamin (B12).
A person who has a poor diet for a few months may develop a deficiency in B-group vitamins. As a result, it’s critical to regularly consume adequate amounts of these vitamins as part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
The human body cannot synthesize vitamin C from other compounds; dietary intake (from food and drinks) is required. We also need to consume vitamin C regularly because the body cannot store it for long.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is required for a variety of metabolic processes, including:
- Collagen formation – Collagen is utilized in various ways throughout the body. Its primary function is to fortify the skin, blood vessels, and bone.
- Antioxidant function– the body’s oxygen metabolism produces molecular compounds known as ‘free radicals,’ which damage cell membranes. Antioxidants are substances that help to eliminate free radicals, and vitamin C is a potent antioxidant.
- Iron absorption – Vitamin C aids iron absorption, particularly non-haem iron absorption (in plant foods such as beans and lentils).
- Fighting infections – The immune system requires vitamin C to function correctly, particularly lymphocytes.
Minerals and Calcium
Calcium is essential for maintaining the strength and health of our bones. If you don’t get enough calcium, your bones will become weak and brittle, potentially leading to osteoporosis.
Calcium is beneficial:
- Maintain bone and tooth health
- Muscle and heart function
- Enzyme function in blood clotting transmission of nervous system messages
- Calcium-containing foods
- Our calcium requirements change as we age.
Calcium from foods is preferable to calcium supplements:-
- Dairy foods like milk, yoghurt, cheese, and some plant-based foods with added calcium are good calcium sources (for example, soymilk, tofu and breakfast cereals).
- Calcium-rich foods are almonds, bok choy, kale, parsley, broccoli, and watercress.
Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate your metabolic rate (the rate your body uses energy when it is resting). They also aid in the growth and development of your brain and body.
We only require a trace amount of iodine in our diet. Iodine is naturally found in foods such as:
- Products made from milk.
- Seafood, kelp, eggs, and some vegetables.
- Iodine is also present in iodized salt. In Australia, all pieces of bread (except organic) are fortified with iodized salt.
You are most likely getting enough iodine from your diet. If you are deficient and need to take a supplement, consult your doctor. If you have an underlying thyroid disorder, too much iodine can be harmful.
Iron is a vital mineral that aids in various bodily functions, including the transport of oxygen in the blood and the delivery of energy to cells. It is also critical for our immune system to function properly to fight infection.
Iron can be found in a variety of animal and plant foods, including:
- Red meat and offal
- Fish poultry
- Iron-fortified breakfast cereals lack iron.
It is common, affecting both adults and children. One in every eight people does not consume enough iron to meet their needs. Certain foods and beverages, for example, can influence how much iron your body absorbs.
The FDA establishes daily recommendations for how much each vitamin and mineral a person should consume. This is referred to as DV by medical professionals.
While most people can meet these values through food alone, those on restrictive diets or suffering from certain health conditions may require dietary supplements.
People should always consult a doctor before starting any new supplements or multivitamins, as consuming too much of any nutrient can be harmful.