Human body needs various nutrients from the food in order to maintain normal functions and support health. Some of the nutrients yield usable energy while broken down, but vitamins and minerals do not provide energy. The body needs these to grow and develop normally. They have unique role in maintaining human health. These nutrients are available from the natural foods we eat, as well as in the form of food supplements. Vitamins and minerals are best if obtained from food sources. Proper and versatile nutrition provides all of the nutrients. To meet the daily goal for nutrients most people need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day. Eating a variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables every day is the easiest way to meet this demand.
Vitamins are organic compounds found in our food. They are required in small amounts by the living organism. Vitamins are classified by their biological and chemical activity. Two primary types of vitamins, according to their absorption in humans, are water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water and they should be replenished each day. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with the help of fats. The excess amount of these vitamins accumulates in the body and may lead to hypervitaminosis.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin with an upper intake level of 3,000 µg daily. This vitamin is good for eyesight, growth, appetite and taste. If a body lacks on vitamin A, a person may suffer from night-blindness, hyperkeratosis and keratomalacia.
Vitamin B is a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. The vitamin B complex consists of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin or Niacinamide), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine or pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin B12 (various cobalamins; commonly Cyanocobalamin in vitamin supplements). B vitamins support and increase the rate of metabolism, maintain healthy skin and muscles, enhance the immune and nervous system functions, promote growth and division of the cells and may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Vitamin C plays a significant role in the immune system. It protects from bacteria and viruses, helps in healing wounds, reduces cholesterol and prevents scurvy. Deficient person will show signs of tiredness, bleeding gums and slow-healing wounds.
Vitamin D is good for strong bones and teeth. Recommended daily allowance for this vitamin is around five micrograms. Signs of deficiency include tooth cavities, weakening of the bones and rickets in children.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that fights toxins. A deficient person will have problems with muscular tone and various fertility troubles.
Minerals are naturally occurring chemical substances. These inorganic elements come from the earth, soil and water. Plants absorb minerals and this way they enter the human food chain.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals, found primarily in the bones and teeth. Calcium is important for strong bones and formation of the human skeleton. Calcium is found in many foods, but it is estimated that only 30% of dietary calcium is absorbed.
Magnesium is another important mineral that works with calcium in muscle contraction and relaxation. This mineral is employed in more than 300 enzymatic reactions within the body.
Potassium is an essential mineral and an electrolyte, which regulates membrane potential and homeostasis of cells. The potassium also maintains the electric charge of the cells, which is critical for nerve and muscle functions and contractions.