A-Z of Vitamins and Minerals & their benefits

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Introduction

The human body performs hundreds of functions daily. The multiple organs work in concert to keep the body functional. The heart pumps the blood throughout the body. Lungs capture the oxygen from air and the red blood cells transport this oxygen to every cell in the body. The nervous system sends hundreds of thousands of signals through sensory neurons to control the movements of bones and muscles. The digestive system helps to breakdown the food to extract nutrition so that the cells must be provided with energy. Other than that, there go multiple repairs and maintenance functions such as healing of wounds, bone formation, making blood cells and skin cells.

Our body requires raw materials to perform these functions. Other than the macronutrients the Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, our body needs small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are the substances that our body cannot manufacture on its own and can only obtain from the food that we eat. These vitamins and minerals are so essential that our body cannot function well without them.

Vitamins:

Vitamin

Important Functions

UK Recommended Dietary Allowances

Deficiency Disease

Sources and Foods

Vitamin A

Boosting the Immune System

Helping vision in dim light

Protecting the lining of sensitive body parts

Age: 19 – 64

0.7 mg/day for men

0.6 mg/day for women

Night Blindness

Cheese, Eggs, Oily Fish, Fortified Low-Fat Spreads, Milk and Yoghurt, Liver, Spinach, Carrots, Mango, Papaya, Apricot

Vitamin B1

Helping in food break down

The health of the nervous system

Age: 19 – 64

1 mg/day for men

0.8 mg/day for women

Beriberi

Peas, Fresh and Dried Fruit, Eggs, Whole Grain Bread, Breakfast Cereal, Liver

Vitamin B2

The health of skin, eyes and nervous system

Age: 19 – 64

1.3mg a day for men

1.1 mg a day for women

Ariboflavinosis, Glossitis, Angular Stomatitis

Milk, Eggs, Fortified Breakfast Cereal, Oats, Cooked Beef, Mushrooms, Rice,

Releasing energy from food

Yoghurt

Vitamin B3

Releasing energy from food

Keeping the nervous system healthy

Age: 19 – 64

16.5 mg a day for men

13.2 mg a day for women

Pellagra

Meat, Fish, Wheat Flour, Eggs, Milk

Vitamin B5

Releasing energy from food

Must be taken every day

Paresthesia

Chicken, Beef, Potatoes, Porridge, Tomatoes, Kidneys, Eggs, Broccoli, Rice, Bread

Vitamin B6

Allowing the body to use stored energy

Making Hemoglobin

Age: 19 – 64

1.4 mg a day for men

1.2 mg a day for women

Anaemia, Peripheral Neuropathy

Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Bread, Oatmeal, Brown rice, Eggs, Vegetables, Soybeans, Peanuts, Milk, Potatoes

Vitamin B7

Breaking down fat

Bacteria in the bowel makes Biotin

Dermatitis, Enteritis

Raw Egg Yolk, Liver, Peanuts, Leafy Green Vegetables

Vitamin B9

Forming Red Blood Cells

The health of the Nervous System

200 micrograms of folate a day

Megaloblastic Anemia

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Liver, Leafy Green Vegetables, Peas, Chickpeas, Cereals

Vitamin B12

Making Red Blood Cells

Keeping the Nervous System Healthy

Releasing energy from food

Using Folic Acid

1.5 micrograms a day for adults of age 19 – 64

Anaemia

Meat, Salmon, Cod, Milk, Cheese, Eggs, Cereals

Vitamin C

Protecting cells and keeps them healthy

Maintaining healthy skin, bones, cartilage

Healing wounds

40 mg a day for adults of age 19 – 64

Scurvy

Orange and Orange Juice, Red and Green Peppers, Strawberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes

10 micrograms a day for adults of age 19 –

Salmon, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel, Red

Vitamin D

Keeping bones, teeth, muscles healthy

64

Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms

Rickets

Meat, Liver, Egg Yolks, Cereals

Vitamin E

Maintaining healthy skin and eyes

Strengthening the immune system

Age: 19 – 64

4 mg a day for men

3 mg a day for women

Deficiency is very rare.

Plant Oils such as Soya, Corn and Olive Oils, Nuts and Seeds, Wheat germ

Vitamin K

Heals the wounds properly

1 microgram a day for each kilogram of the bodyweight

Bleeding Diathesis

Leafy Green Vegetables, Vegetable Oils, Cereal Grains

 

Minerals:

Mineral

Important Functions

UK Recommended Dietary Allowances

Deficiency Disease

Sources and Foods

Calcium

Building Strong Bones and Teeth

Regulating Muscle Contractions

Controlling Heart Beat

Blood Clotting

Adults aged 19 – 64 need 700 mg/day

Rickets in children

Osteoporosis

Milk, Cheese, Broccoli, Cabbage, Okra, Soya Beans, Tofu, Nuts, Bread, Sardines, Pilchards

Iodine

Making Thyroid Hormones

Keeping cells and the metabolic rate of healthy

Adults aged 19 – 64 need 0.14 mg/day

Goitre

Seaweed, Grains, Eggs, Iodized Salts, Sea Fish, Shell Fish

Iron

Making Red Blood Cells

Carrying oxygen around the body

8.7 mg for men over 18

Women aged 19 – 50 need 14.8 mg/day

8.7 mg for women over 50

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Liver, Meat, Beans, Nuts, Dried Fruits, Brown Rice, Cereals, Soy Bean Flour, Green Leafy Vegetables

Chromium

Influences the behaviour of Insulin Hormone

Provides energy from food

25 micrograms/day for adults

Weight Loss, Confusion, Impaired Coordination, Increased risk of Diabetes

Meat, Bread, Oats, Lentils, Broccoli, Potatoes, Spices

Fish, Nuts, Green

Cobalt

A part of Vitamin B12

1.5 micrograms/day of Vitamin B12

Anaemia

Leafy Vegetables, Cereals

Copper

Producing Red and White Blood Cells

Triggering the release of iron to form haemoglobin

Adults aged 19 – 64 need 1.2 mg/day

Fatigue, Weakness, Reduced Iron Levels

Nuts, Shellfish, Offal

Magnesium

Turning food into energy

Ensuring normal functioning of Parathyroid gland

Age: 19 – 64

300 mg a day for men

270 mg a day for women

Tremor, Poor Coordination, Muscle Spasm, Loss of appetite

Green Leafy Vegetables, Nuts, Brown Rice, Bread, Fish, Meat, Dairy Products

Manganese

Making and activating enzymes in the body

Very small amounts that you get from the daily diet

Impaired growth, Impaired reproductive function, Skeletal abnormalities

Tea, Bread, Nuts, Cereal, Green Vegetables

Molybdenum

Making and activating proteins involved in a chemical reaction

Repairing and making genetic material

Very small amounts that you get from the daily diet

Deficiency does not occur in humans

Nuts, Tinned Vegetables, Cereal such as Oats, Peas, Leafy Green Vegetables, Cauliflower

Phosphorus

Building strong bones and teeth

Releasing energy from food

Adults need 550 mg/day

Bone diseases such as Rickets and Osteomalacia

Red Meat, Dairy foods, Fish, Poultry, Bread, Brown Rice, Oats

Potassium

Controlling the balance of fluids in the body

Helping Heart muscles work properly

Adults aged 19 – 64 need 3500 mg/day

Chronic vomiting, Diarrhea, Excessive Sweating, Blood Loss

Bananas, Broccoli, Parsnips, Brussels Sprouts, Pulses, Nuts, Seeds, Fish

Selenium

Helping Immune System work properly

Helping damage to cells and tissues

Improving Reproduction

Age: 19 – 64

0.075 mg a day for men

0.06 mg a day for women

Keshan Disease

Brazil Nuts, Fish, Meat, Eggs

Sodium Chloride

Keeping the levels of fluids in the body balanced

Digestion of food

Adults need 6 g/day of salt

Headache, Nausea, Vomiting Fatigue

Ready Meals, Meat products, Cereals, Cheese, Tinned Vegetables, Bread

Zinc

Making new cells and enzymes

Processing Carbohydrates,

Age: 19 – 64

9.5 mg a day for men

7 mg a day for women

Growth retardation, loss of appetite, hair

Meat, Shell Fish, Milk, Cheese, Bread, CerealsMeat, Shell

Proteins and Fats in food,

Healing Wounds

loss

Fish, Milk, Cheese, Bread, Cereals

 

Conclusion:

From the information recorded in the tables above, it can be fairly concluded that without vitamins and minerals, several of the body functions would not be performed. Vitamins and minerals are inevitable parts of our daily diet. Any deficiency can be fatal. But the bright side of the story is that most vitamins and minerals are a part of the diet we consume. Some specific foods even contain more than one vitamins. Dairy products, for example, contain many vitamins and minerals. Hence we need to balance our diet and makeup if there is any deficiency in our body of a vital vitamin or mineral.

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