A Guide To Vitamins and Minerals

Essential for your well being, we all know we need them. But most of us don’t really know what we actually need them for. Here’s a guide to vitamins and minerals

It’s by no means a complete reference but here’s our guide to vitamins and minerals to help make some sense of them all.

Vitamin A
This is required for the maintenance of healthy vision, growth and repair of cells and tissue. It’s also for the proper functioning of skin and mucous membranes. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant.

The B Vitamins:

Vitamin B1
Probably better known as ‘Thiamine’. This is necessary for the body to breakdown carbohydrates into glucose. Vitamin B1 is also necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Works by influencing the production of chemicals that transmit messages between nervous cells.

Vitamin B2
Also known as ‘Riboflavin’ it is essential to the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and to the body’s ability to utilise them.

Vitamin B5
With the alternative name Pantothenic acid, vitamin B5, is needed to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is also essential in producing, transporting, and releasing energy from fats. Synthesis of cholesterol (needed for vitamin D) depends on pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid also activates the adrenal glands and has been reported to lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Vitamin B3
Otherwise known as Niacin (Vitamin B3) Helps lower blood levels of cholesterol. Acts as a detoxifying agent.

Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine. Necessary for the production of an enzyme that is involved in many metabolic processes including protein metabolism. Important in maintaining healthy skin, muscles and blood.

Vitamin B7

Better known as Biotin. Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help the body break down fat. The bacteria that live naturally in your bowel are able to make biotin so it’s not clear if you need any additional biotin from the diet. Biotin is also found in a wide range of foods, but only at very low levels.

Vitamin B12
Lesser known as Cobalamin it’s essential to the healthy functioning of all body cells particularly those within the nervous system, the gastrointestinal tract and the bone marrow (blood production).

Vitamin B Complex
Is a compound of related nutrients found together in nature that have a range of vital functions in the body. This includes the maintenance of healthy nerves, hormones, digestion, blood cells as well as the skin, hair and nails. B complex is most famous for the nerves, helping us to keep up with the pressures of a demanding lifestyle.

Folic Acid

Included in our guide to vitamins and minerals is Folic Acid. This is the man made form of Folate (vitamin B9)
Works alongside Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C to enable the body to make use of protein in the diet. It has a major role in the development of red blood cells and in the prevention during pregnancy of neural tube defects in the developing foetus.

Other Vitamins:

Vitamin C
Vitamin C has numerous roles within the body. It is required by the immune system for functioning, aids the body in fighting infections, such as colds. Also used in the formation of building blocks of collagen which collectively form the bones, teeth, gums, skin and blood vessels.

Vitamin E

This is one of the most important antioxidants used by the body to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. These are chemicals generated within the body as a side-product of its’ metabolic activities.
Vitamin E is also essential to muscle cells’ ability to use oxygen efficently. This applies particularly to skeletal and cardiac muscle.
This vitamin helps to prevent against disease of the breast, fights skin problems and baldness. It also reduces the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)

Vitamin H
Vitamin H has numerous roles within the body, it is required by the immune system for functioning, aids the body in fighting infections, such as colds. It is used in the formation of building blocks of collagen which collectively form the bones, teeth, gums, skin and blood vessels.

Vitamin K
Only a handful of researchers study vitamin K which has been long known for its critical role in blood clotting. But with the aging of Western populations, this vitamin may command a bigger following as its importance to the integrity of bones becomes increasingly clear. Research suggests it activates at least three proteins involved in bone health.

Minerals:

Calcium
Is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is essential to the formation of bones and teeth and assist in the clotting of blood. The proper functioning of the heart, nerves and muscles is also dependant upon normal levels of calcium within the blood stream.

Chromium
Chronium helps in the control of blood glucose levels and in the protection against high cholesterol levels and therefore, the development of coronary heart disease.

Iron
Adequate levels of iron within the body are required to work alongside protein and copper. This helps to manufacture haemoglobin, the pigment within red blood cells that transport oxygen to cells within the body.

There’s more…

Manganese
Manganese is a component (with copper and zinc) of an antioxidant enzyme system. Needed for healthy bones, joints and nervous system.
Magnesium is a very important chemical as a co-factor in enzyme activity. Particularly in the muscular, nervous systems, heart and circulatory systems.

Selenium
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that works alongside the antioxidant Vitamin E, to minimise the effects of free radicals within the body.

Zinc
Zinc is a trace mineral essential to health. It is important to the functioning of immune system and plays a major role in the action of many enzymes within the body. Zinc is essential for the growth and proper development of the reproductive organs.

This is just a small guide to vitamins and minerals, there are also many amino acids and micro nutrients that play a part in keeping us well.

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