Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that play important roles in our bodies. Our bodies need these raw materials to perform activities like building bones, healing wounds, converting food to energy and repairing cells. However, as vitamins found in food sources can be broken down easily by cooking, storage and air, we may not get enough of these nutrients as we need.
Furthermore, some individuals do not consume enough fruit and vegetables in their diet to hit the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals in their everyday consumption. In addition, due to soil depletion, soils where crops are grown have become stripped of their nutrients, ensuring that we don’t get enough of these in our foods. When we age, our nutritional intake increases as our bodies make it harder to absorb these nutrients and medications worsen the situation.
One way to combat this gap is to take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement where needed.
There are generally 2 types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are directly absorbed into your bloodstream as the foods you eat are broken down and are easily circulated in your body. These water-soluble vitamins help your foods release energy, build protein and cells, produce energy and make collagen for your body and should be replenished every few days. Examples would be vitamins B and C.
On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins enter the bloodstream via the lymph channels in the intestinal wall. They help to build bones, maintain your vision, interact and help other nutrient absorption and protect the body. These vitamins are stored in your fatty tissues and liver and released when you need them. Some examples include vitamins A, D, K and E.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and is an antioxidant which fights cell damage, supports your immune system, helps you absorb iron into your body and produces collagen. It is said to encourage the production of white blood cells in the body to fight against infections and protect against cell damage. If there is a deficiency, it can lead to scurvy which causes tooth loss, anemia and bleeding sores. Vitamin C is water soluble and can only be replenished in our body through external sources. It can often be destroyed by heat or storage, so having access to raw fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C can help or taking an additional supplement for more support.
Certain groups of people are more prone to being deficient in vitamin C, such as smokers, those with restricted diets, malabsorption and chronic diseases.
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B complex refers to a set of 8 vitamin Bs combined into one tablet - B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin). Each of these vitamins have different functions not limited to converting food into energy, aiding in metabolism and DNA and red blood cell production.
These are especially essential vitamins for pregnant women who require B12 and folate for fetal development, and elderly folk whose ability to absorb B12 reduces as they age. Others who are vegetarian or have chronic illness may also be lacking in B12 and other B vitamins.
For most people, taking a daily multivitamin can ensure that they obtain all the necessary nutrients that their body needs to function. Multivitamins often contain a range of common vitamins and minerals needed according to recommended requirements, including vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E and K, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and more.
Taking a multivitamin can be beneficial in protecting against ageing and heart disease, boosting immunity, having access to water-soluble vitamins that need replenishment daily, maintaining healthy skin and hair, eye health and overall energy levels.
It can be especially helpful for those who have poor diets, high levels of stress and generally lower immunity.
On the other hand, minerals are just as important as vitamins for your body. Trace minerals also perform various roles in the body, including transporting oxygen throughout the body, strengthening bones, helping the blood to clot and blocking damage to cells. However, because having too much of certain minerals can actually contribute to deficiencies of others, it’s important to follow the daily recommendations required and not over consume them.
IronIron plays a major role in your blood cells, by combining with haemoglobin and transporting oxygen in the body. Iron deficiencies often affect women who are pregnant and menstruating and also vegetarians who consume non-heme iron from plants, which is not as well absorbed as heme iron from animal sources.
Not having enough iron can lead to anaemia with a lowered red blood cell count, as well as tiredness, fatigue, a lowered immune system and impaired brain function.
Calcium helps to strengthen and mineralise your bones and teeth, especially during growth and puberty. It also works a signalling molecule for your heart, nerves and muscles. If there is an insufficient amount, any excess calcium stored in your bones is released, leading to symptoms like osteoporosis with weakened bones. Although dietary sources like fish and dairy products are easy to find, some women and older adults still tend to be calcium deficient and require supplementation.If you want to learn more about health supplements that may benefit you, take a look at our Health Supplements - Vitamins collection page and Health Supplements -Minerals and Trace Elements collection page.