Vitamins and Minerals put together constitute the essential nutrient system human body needs. These play a vital role in day-to-day functions of the body from producing the muscle and bones to develop skin and red blood cells. These take part in hundreds of activities to keep the body functioning efficiently and ensuring the overall wellness of an individual.

Vitamins and types

Vitamins are the organic chemical compounds, which are required for effective functioning of the body in small amounts. The major source of the vitamins is the food we eat. The body either does not produce these in the required amount or does not produce at all. The right diet is important because the essential components for body functioning should be supplied through the diet as the body cannot produce some of these.

There are 13 known vitamins in all. These have been classified into two categories based on their properties. The group of vitamins that is soluble in water called water-soluble vitamins and the other group, which is only soluble in the fat, referred to as fat-soluble vitamins.

As the name suggests the water-soluble vitamins are impossible to store, hence needed continuous supply either through the diet or by supplements.Whereas the fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body.

Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Vitamin C, Biotin, Folic acid, and Pantothenic acid are the water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are the fat soluble-vitamins.

Minerals and varieties

Minerals are substances required for body growth and development. Unlike vitamins, minerals are not organic, hence not breakable and carry its structure intact. These do not give energy and contains no calories. Again, the body does not make minerals and the main source is the diet. Hence the importance of a balanced diet, where foods from all food groups are incorporated.

Depending on the daily requirement, these can be divided into two groups. The macro minerals, require 100mg or more a day and micronutrients required 15 mg or less a day. Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, and Sodiums are the Macro minerals and Iron, Zinc, Copper, Chromium, Fluoride, Iodine, Selenium, Manganese, etc. are the Microminerals.

Deficiency and Consequence

As the vitamins and minerals are essentials nutrients required by the body, the deficiency of the same will create and sometimes exacerbate the chronic health conditions. The importance of vitamins and mineral is such that most of the health problems can be traced either to the deficiency of these or to the overdose.

Vitamin B1 deficiency leads anorexia, gastrointestinal problems; Vitamin B2 to dermatitis, conjunctivitis; Vitamin B3 to diarrhea, dementia, and stomatitis; B6 to anemia and depression and B9 to leukopenia and thrombocytopenia; B2 to neurological problems, sprue, and Vitamin C to dental cavities and scurvy, etc.

Likewise, deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins like A leads to eyes problems, D to weak bones, joint pains, kidney diseases, and inflammatory bowel syndrome; E to malnourishment and Vitamin K to hemorrhage and anemia.

Minerals deficiency and toxicity also leads to severe and chronic health problems. Calcium deficiency will cause rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis; Potassium to cardiac arrest; sodium to cramps, fatigue, and disorientation. Inadequate intake of micro minerals too can cause health conditions over a long period.

As minerals and vitamins essential, it is important to see to it that all food groups are incorporated in the food to supply different essential vitamins and minerals to the body’s functioning.

If the diet lacks some vitamins, it is always advisable to take the vitamin supplements to lead a happy and healthy life.

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M.Sc. (Dietetics and Food Service Management). Passionate about sharing the healthy & balanced lifestyle needs to be followed in today’s era. Determined to motivate people more about their health & nutrition, by analyzing their dietary concerns and daily life challenges.