Friday, February 17, 2012

What's Eating You? Day 5: Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are organic substances found in foods that are essential for growth and development of the human body. They are classified as water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and can easily be transported through the bloodstream. The B vitamins, vitamin C, and choline fall into this category. Since the body stores very little of these vitamins in the body, they must be consumed regularly. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, do not dissolve easily in water and require fat for absorption in the intestines as well as for transport through the bloodstream. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in bodyfat, the liver, and in other organs of the body in smaller amounts. Consuming excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins, especially through vitamin supplements, can lead to a toxic build-up in the body.

Minerals are inorganic elements which contain no calories, are required by the body in small amounts, and are essential to a variety of system functions. They are classified as major minerals and trace minerals. If the body requires more than 100 milligrams per day, it is considered a major mineral. Conversely, a trace mineral is required in amounts less than 100 milligrams per day. Examples of major minerals include: calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur. Trace minerals include: iron, zinc, chromium, fluoride, copper, manganese, iodine, molybdenum, and selenium. Minerals are stored in the body. Excess mineral supplementation may lead to toxic levels in the body.

The human body cannot survive without vitamins and minerals. Depending on one's age, gender, health condition, and level of physical activity, the required amounts of each will vary. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies will lead to rapidly declining health. Therefore, a healthy, well-rounded diet is a must for optimal health.

Be good to yourself! More next time...

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