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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. The primary source of vitamins and minerals comes from the foods we eat, and some foods are richer in certain vitamins and minerals than others.

Essential Vitamins

There are 13 essential vitamins that are classified according to their ability to be absorbed in fat or water. The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These vitamins are typically consumed along with fat-containing foods and are then stored in body fat for use by the body as needed. For this reason, fat-soluble vitamins do not have to be consumed every day. Water-soluble vitamins include the eight B vitamins and vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins are consumed by the body right away and any excess is excreted. For this reason, water-soluble vitamins must be consumed frequently, preferably every day, to maintain optimum health.

Only vitamin D can be manufactured by the body. All others must be derived from the diet, either from food or supplements. Vitamin deficiencies in the diet can cause a wide range of health problems and dysfunctions, such as acne, fatigue, depressed immune system, and anemia.

Dietary Minerals

Even though minerals may be required in small quantities in your diet, they are still vitally important to your general health and wellbeing. Essential minerals include Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Sulfur. There are other minerals that are required in your diet, but in much smaller quantities, called Trace Minerals. The minerals in this category include Boron, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Silicon and Zinc.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants, that are substances or nutrients found in food, are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of potentially harmful molecules in you body called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced from many normal body processes, such as when cells in the body use oxygen, or during the breakdown of food. Free radicals in the body can also be attributed to exposure to environmental toxins like tobacco smoke and radiation. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, and cancer are all contributed to cellular damage by free radicals.

Antioxidants act as "free radical scavengers" and work to prevent and repair damage done by free radicals in the body. For this reason, foods naturally containing antioxidants are an essential part of a healthy diet. Antioxidant substances include Beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Antioxidants are found in many foods including fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, poultry, fish and some other meats. Some foods are higher in antioxidants than other, such as Blueberries that are considered the top antioxidant food, rating highest in their capacity to destroy free radicals compared to other fruits and vegetables.

Vitamins and Minerals Articles

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The human body requires the mineral calcium to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium, the most abundant mineral found in the body, is also needed for proper functioning of the heart, nerves and muscles so it is important to keep blood calcium at a healthy level to sustain life.   Beginning in our twenties and continuing as we age, our...

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A common misconception when it comes to eating a proper diet is that fat-free dairy products lack the dairy fats that are necessary for proper calcium absorption. Although it is true that your body does require these types of fats to use calcium, dairy fats are not required for calcium to be absorbed.   Calcium, like other minerals, is water-soluble....

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Young children with lactase deficiency should not eat any foods containing lactose. Most older children and adults need not avoid lactose completely, but people differ in the amounts and types of foods they can handle. For example, one person may have symptoms after drinking a small glass of milk, while another can drink one glass but not two. Others may...

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