Vitamins and Minerals
Though vitamins and minerals are different, they are often grouped under the common heading “dietary supplements”. This is because all natural vitamins are organic food substances found only in living things i.e., plants and animals. Most cannot be manufactured within our body. The only way to get them is to incorporate them in our diet. Vitamins help regulate metabolism, help convert fat and carbohydrates into energy, and assist in forming bone and tissue.
Food is the best way to ensure that our bodies get their daily dose of vitamins and minerals. But due to unhealthy and irregular eating habits, most of us at some time need to take something to supplement our diet. Each vitamin and mineral has a different role to play with regard to our bodily functions. Some of the essential vitamins are Vitamin A, B, C, D and E. Vitamin A supports the immune system, sharpens vision and aids the growth and maintenance of bones, cells and skin. Vitamin B can be further divided into B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12. Folate or folic acid is also a member of this family. The main function of these vitamins is to keep the body energized by stabilizing appetite, regulating metabolism, protecting the nervous system and supporting hormone activity.
Vitamin C helps prevent disease and infection and helps promote the body’s absorption of iron. It helps bones grow, is involved in the formation of scar tissue and strengthens the blood vessels. Citrus fruits are believed to be good sources of this vitamin. Vitamin D is essential for supporting maintenance of the brain, pancreas, skin, muscles, reproductive organs and immune system. But the human body is capable of making this vitamin with the help of sunlight. Vitamin E gives healthy skin and protects the lungs from air pollutants.
Minerals play a smaller role, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc are some of the essential minerals. Calcium strengthens bones and keeps them from becoming brittle while iron is essential for transport and release of oxygen throughout the body. Magnesium is used in manufacturing proteins and regulates body temperature. Potassium aids muscle contraction and helps the kidney and heart function normally whereas zinc plays a role in your sense of taste, helps make sperm and heals wounds.