Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs in small but steady amounts for normal growth, function and health. Together, vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients. Your body can't make most micronutrients, so you must get them from the foods you eat or, in some cases, from dietary supplements.
Vitamins and health.
Vitamins are essential to good health. Vitamin A helps to develop and maintain body tissues such as bone and skin; it also helps the body’s vision, nervous system functioning, reproduction, and growth. The B vitamins are responsible for increasing the production of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates as well as assisting with metabolism, building red blood cells, and maintaining the protective covering of the nervous system.
Vitamin C helps form tissues, cells, bones and teeth; heals wounds; and improves the immune system’s performance. Vitamin E protects the outer cell membranes from harm, thus assisting the immune system in fighting off diseases. Vitamin K helps the body’s blood lot in wounded areas.
Minerals also have a broad range of functions. As many as 20 minerals play significant roles in the body. “Microminerals,” or minerals that the body only needs traces of, can fight off serious illness. These include copper, iodine, chromium, iron, fluorine, tin, zinc, nickel, vanadium, manganese, silicon, molybdenum, and selenium. “Macrominerals,” or minerals that the body needs large amounts of include magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, phosphorus, calcium, and sulfur.
Zinc is responsible for helping metabolize proteins and keeping enzymes functioning. Copper is needed by enzymes for metabolizing. Iodine assists the thyroid gland in working properly. Calcium and phosphorus build bones and teeth. Iron delivers oxygen to the body’s cells. Potassium helps muscle contraction, maintains the fluid balance of cells, helps transmit messages through the body’s nerves, and keeps the kidneys and heart working correctly.
How they interrelate. Vitamins and minerals not only help the body function, but they work to strengthen each other. The body absorbs iron through the help of vitamin C. Vitamin D helps the body absorb phosphorus and calcium. Vitamins D and K are the only vitamins the body can supply for itself. The skin creates vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin K is produced by intestinal bacteria. Outside sources must supply the body with all other vitamins.