Vitamins and minerals are crucial for various roles in our body such as healing wounds, boosting the immune system, repairing cell damage, conversion of food into energy, and others. These are referred to as micronutrients since our body needs a very little amount of them. Heat, air, or acid can break down the vitamins that are organic in nature whereas the minerals are inorganic in nature, whose chemical structure remains intact. Intake of the right amount of these micronutrients helps in avoiding diseases and staying healthy. Let us dive into more details about the essential vitamins and minerals.
Diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies:
- Scurvy-By lack of vitamin C.
- Blindness-By lack of vitamin A.
iii. Rickets- By lack of vitamin D, resulting in weaker bones and deformities in the skeleton.
These are often found in the watery food consumed by us and are absorbed into the bloodstream directly. They can circulate in the body easily since a major part of our body consists of water. Kidneys regulate these vitamin levels and discard the excess amount in urine.
Here are their benefits:
- Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin help in the production of energy.
- Some B vitamins are crucial components of coenzymes that have a role in releasing energy from food.
iii. Amino acids are metabolized and cells multiply with vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid.
- Vitamin C promotes collagen formation that is essential for recovery from wounds, build walls of blood vessels, formation of teeth and bones.
Consumption of large amounts of micronutrients can lead to nerve damage, numbness, and weakness of muscles.
Vitamin A, D, E, and K come under this category. Proteins act as a career for fat-soluble vitamins. The stomach acid breaks down the food which then travels to the small intestine for further digestion. Bile, produced from the liver, helps in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins. This bile moves to the small intestine for breaking down the fats. Then its walls absorb the nutrients which enter the lymph vessels and then later into the bloodstream. Any excess of these vitamins is stored in the liver and fat tissues.
Here are the benefits of these vitamins:
- Vitamin A, D, and K build the bones.
- Better vision is ensured through vitamin A.
iii. Vitamin E helps in the absorption and storage of vitamin A.
- Our body is protected from damage against unstable molecules with vitamin E.
Minerals needed for the body:
Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Sodium, Sulfur, Phosphorus, and Potassium are the important minerals that our body needs.
The main role of Sodium, chloride, and potassium is to maintain water balance in the body. Similarly, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are crucial for healthy bones. Protein structures including our skin, hair, and nails remain healthy with sulfur.
The high amount of some major minerals can result in deficiency of others, resulting in an imbalance. When you take in excess salt, calcium binds with the sodium in the body. Excess sodium is excreted to normalize the mineral level in the body. Intake of too much salt results in losing the calcium in the body. Similarly, excess phosphorus lowers magnesium absorption.
Iodine, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Molybdenum, Chromium,
Fluoride and Selenium come under this category. Here are their benefits:
- Iron carries oxygen throughout the body.
- The bones remain strong and tooth decay can be avoided with Fluorides.
iii. Copper helps in enzyme formation, iron metabolism, and hemoglobin metabolism
Iv. Blood clotting, taste, and smell are taken care of by zinc. It keeps the immune system strong
Interaction of trace minerals can lead to imbalances. Excess of one trace mineral causes another to decrease. For example, manganese overload worsens iron deficit. Similarly, lowers thyroid hormone production leading to weight gain and sluggishness. This exacerbates when your body has very little selenium
A balanced diet can help in ensuring that we have the right amount of vitamins and minerals in our bodies to keep the diseases at bay. Also, it is recommended to rely on natural sources of food instead of supplements as an excess supplement can lead to side effects.