In order for your body to work properly it needs, in small quantities, the essential nutrients – minerals and vitamins.
The vitamin is an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts. Minerals are also as vital as the vitamins so that you body can stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different things, such as: building strong bones and teeth, turning the food you eat into energy, controlling body fluids inside and outside cells.
Normally, most people get all the nutrients they need just by eating a varied and balanced diet. But there is another choice – mineral supplements and vitamins. You should be aware that taking too many or taking them for too long can cause harmful effects.
Minerals are necessary for three main reasons: building strong bones and teeth, turning the food you eat into energy, controlling body fluids inside and outside cells. You can find them in foods such as: meat, cereals (including cereal products such as bread), milk and dairy foods, fish, vegetables, fruit (especially dried fruit) and nuts.
Essential minerals include calcium and iron, although there are also many other types of minerals that are important for a healthy diet.
Trace elements are also essential nutrients that your body needs to work properly, but in much smaller quantities than vitamins and minerals. You can find them in small amounts in a variety of foods such: as meat, fish, milk and dairy foods, cereals, vegetables and nuts.
Iodine and fluoride are examples of trace elements.
There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. Your body needs them every day in order to work properly. They’re found mainly in fatty foods such as animal fats, including butter and lard, dairy foods, vegetable oils, liver and oily fish. Remember that you do not need to eat such foods every day, because your body stores these vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for future use. However, if you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.
Water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C, the B vitamins and folic acid. Contrary to the fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so you need to have them more frequently. The excess of these vitamins in your body is flushed out of by urinating. Since your body doesn’t store water-soluble vitamins, they’re generally not harmful. However, this doesn’t mean that all large amounts are necessarily harmless.
You can provide your body with water-soluble vitamins when eating fruit, vegetables and grains. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they can be destroyed by heat, by being exposed to the air, or even be lost in the water used for cooking. The best way to keep as many of the water-soluble vitamins as possible is to eat foods that are steamed or grilled, rather than boiled.
There are also many other types of vitamins that are important for a healthy diet.
Tip: If you’re trying to cut down on your salt intake, you might want to avoid vitamin and mineral supplements which come as effervescent or fizzy tablets. These, and also some effervescent painkillers, can contain up to 1g salt per tablet.