The foods you eat not only fill your stomach but also have a major role in the functioning of your body. These foods give you various nutrients in different amounts and these nutrients work as fuel to your body. One of the essential nutrients is vitamins and minerals. And these are as essential as water and air for living. Vitamins and minerals are known as micronutrients which are required by the body to carry out a range of functions. However, these micronutrients are not produced in your body. That is why you need to take various foods rich in minerals and vitamins. Also, these not just keep your body healthy and functional, but they also protect you from a variety of diseases. Therefore, you need to eat food rich in minerals and vitamins.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals come under the category of micronutrients because your body needs small amounts of them. Whereas, on the other hand, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates come under macronutrients as your body needs them in large amounts. Micronutrients must be obtained from the food you eat as these are not produced by your body. That is why they are also referred to as essential nutrients.
Vitamins: vitamins are organic substances that are present in small amounts in foods and made by plants and animals. And these are classified into two that is; fat-soluble and water-soluble.
- Fat-soluble; these are the vitamins that are dissolved in fat and can be stored in your liver and fatty tissues which your body uses in the future. These include; vitamins- A, D, E, and K.
- Water-soluble; these are the vitamins that are dissolved in water and these are not easily stored in your body and get eliminated with urine after excess consumption. These include; vitamin C and B-complex vitamins, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate.
Minerals: minerals are inorganic elements present in the soil, rocks, and water. However, you can absorb them from the plants or consume them from animals that eat the particular plants. Minerals can also be classified into two that is; major and trace.
- Major- these minerals are needed by your body in large amounts which include; calcium, chloride, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Trace- these minerals are needed by your body in very small amounts and include; iodine, chromium, copper, iron, selenium, and zinc.
Vitamins and minerals rich foods and their benefits
Several foods are good sources of vitamins and minerals and you get them by eating these foods which include; 
Vitamin A – vitamin A is also known as retinol. The ideal intake (RDA) of vitamin A is 700 micrograms for women and 900 micrograms for men a day. These vitamins can be found in many dairy products, and also in yellow-orange colored fruits and vegetables including; cantaloupe, mangoes, apricots, etc. These vitamins help in fighting infections, maintaining your healthy vision, heart, lung, and kidney health, reproduction, and strengthening your bones and teeth.
Vitamin B – is found in eight complex forms known as vitamin B complexes and has different ideal intakes. These vitamins can be found in many kinds of cereal, flour, bread, and pasta, and also in leafy green vegetables, animal proteins, and whole grains. Consumption of these vitamins helps in maintaining your brain function and memory; improves cholesterol; reduces the risk of heart disease, and stroke; produces blood cells; and functions of the nervous system.
Vitamin C – contains antioxidants that help in tissue growth. The ideal intake of vitamin C is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. You can get vitamin C from red and green peppers, oranges, kiwis, and other citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and tomatoes. Vitamin C provides you in protecting cell damage, supports your immune system, helps in making collagen for your body, and maintains your skin and tissue health.
Vitamin D – can be obtained by getting exposure to the sun. However, if you are unable to get enough UV light then you can add liver oil, fatty fish, fortified juices, milk, and cereals as an alternative. It can benefit you by influencing your immune system, maintaining the nervous system, and bone growth, and regulating calcium and phosphorus blood levels.
Vitamin E – is responsible for the proper functioning of organs. You need to take about 15 milligrams of vitamin E a day. You can get it from vegetable oils, avocados, spinach, seeds and nuts, and whole grains. These vitamins have antioxidants that help in protecting your cells from damage by toxins, maintain your muscle function, reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin K – is essential for blood clotting. The ideal intake of vitamin K is 120 micrograms for men and 90 grams for women. This can be obtained from green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, figs, natto, and parsley. Vitamin K helps in healing your wound, creating strong bones, and protecting against heart health.
Calcium – It is a mineral that is responsible for healthy bone growth. This can be taken as 1,000 milligrams for men and 1,200 milligrams for women under age 51 or older per day. You can obtain calcium by getting it from soy milk, yogurt, hard cheeses, fortified cereals, unfortified almond milk, and kale. And this will be needed for bone growth and strength, blood clotting, contraction of muscle, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, etc.
Iron – iron is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. You need to take about 8 to 18 milligrams of iron per day. You can obtain iron from red meats, beans, green leafy vegetables like spinach, and legumes. These foods help in improving your immune function, and brain function, providing energy, improving concentration ability, and carrying oxygen in the blood.
Zinc – it is one of the minerals which you need in small amounts. The ideal intake of zinc is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women. You can obtain zinc by adding beans, nuts, whole grains, red meat, and dairy products to your diet. It helps in reducing the risk of cancer, improving your immune system and memory, and reducing the symptoms of a common cold.
Iodine – It is a mineral that helps in the functioning of thyroid hormones. The ideal intake of iodine is 150 micrograms a day. Seaweed, seafood, dairy products, processed foods, and iodized salts are good sources of iodine.
Magnesium – It is a mineral that helps in the functioning of nerves and muscles. The ideal intake of magnesium is 400 milligrams for men and 310 milligrams for women. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, dairy products, soybeans, potatoes, whole wheat, and quinoa are good sources of magnesium. It helps with heart rhythm and bone strength.
Is it ok to take vitamin and mineral supplements?
Vitamins and minerals are essential as it contributes to your normal body functioning. And if you don’t consume them it will affect your body. Sometimes, you are unable to consume enough fruits and vegetables or healthy foods, which is why you tend to use multivitamins to fulfill your requirements. Also, you take supplements when you are pregnant, have certain food allergies or intolerances, having surgery on your digestive tract. Supplements are not used to replace foods but they can be used to fulfill the deficiency of these vitamins and minerals. They can’t provide you with all the nutrients that you can get from whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Because whole foods give these benefits over supplements which include;
Highly nutritious– whole foods contain a variety of nutrients that your body needs.
Rich in dietary fiber– whole foods provide you an essential dietary fiber by having fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. This will help you in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Protective substances- these substances include antioxidants which help in promoting your health by protecting the cell and damage to tissues.
Things to consider while taking supplements
- Check the labels- it tells you about the ingredients, nutrients that include, the serving size, and the number of nutrients in each serving.
- Avoid megadose– if you take high-dose supplements more than the recommended daily intake it can increase the risk of side effects.
- Don’t overdose– sometimes you take supplements and also eat foods rich in minerals and vitamins which can cause you many side effects because of taking more than you need.
- Check the expiry date- vitamins and mineral supplements can be less effective over time.
- Concern your doctor– always concern your doctor about what vitamin and mineral supplements you need to take as they can cause you many harmful effects if you are taking them without consultation.
In conclusion, we can say that vitamins and minerals work as micronutrients that can take in small amounts but play a very essential role in proper body functioning. Varieties of good sources are there that can be included in your diet for many health benefits. However, in some conditions, you need to take multivitamins which are not that much more effective than whole foods but you can take as for your safer side.
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