Vitamins and Minerals

In order for us to maintain optimum health we need to supply our bodies with macronutrients and micronutrients. We tend to remember the macronutrients; proteins, fats and carbohydrates which we obtain from the bulk of the foods that we eat. Foods like pasta, rice, potatoes, meats, fish and bacon provide us macronutrients. Most times we forget to include the food types that supply the micronutrients; vitamins and minerals in our diets. Good sources for micronutrients include, carrots, leaf and root vegetables (greens, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, cabbage, eggplant, peppers) and fruits (blueberries, strawberries, pear, avocado, oranges, bananas). Vitamins are organic substances needed in small quantities (micrograms). Vitamins help regulate metabolic processes in our bodies. They help many enzymes in our bodies work more efficiently during metabolism. Vitamins come in water soluble and fat soluble varieties. In order for us to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins, we need to have some fat in our diets. There are “good” fats that we need to include in our diets and these help with absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Minerals and vitamins do not provide calories and they are not an energy source. However, they are needed to help our bodies extract energy from the foods we consume, such as carbohydrates. Vitamins can be obtained from natural foods like fruits, vegetables, egg yolk, grains, nuts and legumes. In cases where the diet is deficient in vitamins; supplements may be taken to provide them. Food fortification and enrichments also adds vitamins and minerals to our diets. Commonly purchased fortified foods include cereal, milk and orange juice. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. The B vitamins are water soluble and available as eight different types, each with a different function. B vitamins help enzymes in our bodies work more efficiently. Some examples of B vitamins include folate, riboflavin and cobalamin. Vitamin C is also water soluble and works with vitamin E to provide strong antioxidant effects to our cells. Both help to remove the free radicals that can damage our cells, causing them to age rapidly. Minerals are also required in small amounts  and include iron, selenium, sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium. The types and combinations of foods that we eat can influence absorption of minerals. Eating a variety of foods that includes fruits and vegetables ensures the availability of micronutrients in our diets.