Why Vitamins and Minerals are important?

May 25, 2016

Why Vitamins and Minerals are important?

Why Vitamins and Minerals are important?

Vitamins and minerals are substances that are found in foods we eat.Your body needs them to work properly, so you grow and develop justlike you should. When it comes to vitamins, each one has a special roleto play. There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble andwater-soluble. When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins,the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in yourliver. Fat-soluble vitamins stay stored in your body and are only usedwhen your body needs them. Some stay stored for a few days, some for upto 6 months! Then, when it's time for them to be used, special carriersin your body take them to where they are needed. Vitamins A, D, E, andK are all fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are different.When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don'tget stored in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstreamand whatever your body doesn't use, is excreted when you urinate. Thiscrowd of vitamins includes vitamin C and the big group of B vitamins -B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12(cyano-cobalamine), biotin, and pantothenic acid.

VITAMIN A - Essential for night vision

Term Description 
Beta Carotene  Serves as as antioxidant 
  Food that contains traces of Vitamin A: 
Sweet Potatoes

VITAMIN D – Helps calcium absorption

Food that contains traces of Vitamin D:

Milk and other dairy products fortified with vitamin D
Egg yolks

VITAMIN E – Necessary for normal growth and development

Food that contains traces of Vitamin E:

Whole grains, such as wheat and oats
Wheat germ
Leafy green vegetables
Egg yolks

VITAMIN K – Forms part of your body’s blood clotting cascade

Food that contains traces of Vitamin K:

Leafy green vegetables
Dairy products, like milk and yoghurt

VITAMIN C – Aids your immune system and helps with wound healing

Term  Description 
Thiamin  Serves as an coenzyme for carbohydrate metabolism 
Riboflavin  Helps in red blood cell formation 
Niacin  Needed for carbohydrate, protein and fast synthesis 
Pyridoxine  Involved in hormone synthesis 
  Food that contains traces of Vitamin C
Citrus fruits, like oranges


Term Description 
Folic Acid  Reduces risk for neural tube birth defects 
  Food that contains Vitamin B 
Whole Grains (wheat and oats)
Fish and Seafood
Poultry and meats
Dairy products (Milk and yogurt)
Leafy green vegetables
Beans and peas
Citrus fruits (Oranges)


Term   Description 
Calcium  Essential for healthy bones and teeth 
  Food that contains traces of this mineral: 
Dark green leafy vegtables
Fortifies orange juice
Term Description 
Phosphurs Essential for energy production 
Manganses This mineral activates nearly 100 enzymes 
Food that contains traces of this mineral
Whole grains

Term Description 
Copper Plays a role in iron metabolism and nervous system functioning 
Food that contains traces of this mineral 
Organ meats
Term  Description 
Iron  Essential for red blood cell formation 
  Food that contains traces of this mineral 
Red meat
Organ Meat
Egg Yolk
Green leafy vegetables
Dried Fruit
Term  Description 
Zinc  Vital part for more than 100 enzymes that play a part in digestion, metabolism and reproduction 
  Food that contains traces of this mineral
Whole grain cereals
Breads, legumes and nuts 

Sugars and the Benefits

Term  Description 
Surcose  (Table sugar) Will increase your energy levels during training 
Maltadextrin  (Dectrose polymers) Will increase your energy levels during training 
Fructose  (Fruit, sugar) It is advised not to take in fructose during exercise as it will have no benefit.  Sustained energy release. 
Ribose  (Supplements) This will help your muscles recover faster by aiding the resynthesis of ATP in your muscles 
Lactose  (Milk) Just look out for this if your lactose intolerant 
Honey  (solid pure form) Tastes great, but too concentrated 


Itis necessary to have an excellent nutritional status in order for yourbody to fight infections. A well-balanced meal will help you to preventvitamin and mineral deficiencies. Our immunity may also be affected bythe build-up of free radicals in our bodies

When weakbonds split, free radicals are formed. These radicals are unstable andwill react quickly with other compounds that are trying to stabilisethem. Basically, these free radicals attack the nearest stablemolecule, stealing its electron causing this molecule to lose itselectron and becoming a free radical itself. The process continues fromthereon. Metabolic waste, pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke andherbicides all combine to form free radicals in your body.

Immune Booster

The best way to better your immune system is by eating raw foods. Try to incorporate your raw foods by drinking smoothies.

Make your own salsa by chopping chilly, garlic, green, red and yellow peppers, parsley and tomatoes. This can be used moderately over your meals to make it more interesting and to give it more taste.
Blend oranges, carrots and other citrus fruits for a refreshing drink.
If you want to indulge yourself, mix strawberries and raspberries with non-fat plain yoghurt and a little bit of skim milk for the smoothest smoothie.
Instead of plain mash, include sweet potato (full of beta carotene and vitamin E) and pumpkin for a more interesting smoothie.
Skimmed milk or soy with added non-fat plain yoghurt. Fruit according to your taste. Flax seed oil (about 1 tablespoon). Oat bran for added fibre. Add 10mg of zinc, 100mg of selenium and 50-100 IU of vitamin E.
Add the following to your smoothie to make it even more nutritious and healthy:

Vanilla extract. This flavour capturing ingredient can be added to nearly everything, making your smoothie/meal taste better and also filling your house with a full aroma.
Pumpkin is not necessarily the best tasting vegetable (without added sugars) for any man (especially the ones that live on meat and only eat vegetables at Christmas), but added to a smoothie, the story changes. One cup delivers about 7-8grams of fibre that is essential for muscle building and high protein diets.
About one cup of peaches will increase your shake’s vitamin C concentration by about 235mg. Unknown to most, this will also increase cytokine levels in your blood that will keep you from getting sick as often.
Make your smoothie sweeter (obviously not for those who need to count the calories) by adding condensed milk. This added calcium will help increase the strength of your bones.

Immune Boosting Nutrients


Except for being a powerful antioxidant that aids against free radicalsclotting your body, beta carotene increases the amount ofinfection-fighting cells. Our body converts beta carotene to vitamin A.If your body has enough vitamin A, the conversion will stop to avoidvitamin A toxic levels.


• Cardiovascular
It interferes with fats and cholesterol that can be found in thebloodstream and cause arterial plaques (through oxidation).

• Cancer
Beta carotene also stimulates macrophages that produce a product (tumornecrosis factor), which has been found to kill cancer cells. Betacarotene also increases the ability of the body’s natural killer cellsto attack cancer cells.

  • • Biolavonoids
This is part of the phytonutrients that protect the body againstpollutants that are found in the atmosphere. These pollutants areattracted to the body’s cell membranes and gather in the receptor sites(spaces along the membranes of the cell). Bioflavonoids fill thesespaces to protect the body against pollutants adhering. Bioflavonoidsreduce cholesterol’s ability to form plaques in the arteries thatdecrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes (2).


Zinc increases the production of white blood cells and antibodies.
Just make sure not to get in too much Zinc as this may inhibit the immune function (1).

Vitamin C can be seen as the number one immune booster. Vitamin C canbe found in different fruits and vegetables. This immune boosterincreases white blood cells and an antibody called interferon (preventsthe entrance of viruses into the body). Vitamin C increases HDLcholesterol (the good cholesterol), lowers blood pressure and reducescolon, prostate and breast cancer. When taking your vitamin Csupplement, rather space the intake throughout the day to ensure thatit does not get excreted in the urine (1).


Vitamin E increases the production of natural killer cells (attack thegerms in your body). They also increase B-cells that are responsiblefor destroying bacteria in your body. This vitamin plays an importantrole in reversing the signs of ageing. During a study in the HarvardSchool of Public Health, 87 000 nurses were shown to have a 50%decrease in heart attacks. It is advisable to get in around 100-400milligrams of vitamin E during the day. For people that smoke or don’texercise, higher amounts will be needed. It is also advised thatelderly people increase their vitamin E dosage to help them reduce thechance of infection (1).


Garlic is part of the onion family and is a powerful immune booster,involved in fighting infection and reducing free radical build-up.Garlic can be added to salads, soup or anything you can think of.Garlic, pepper and onions contain substances called “mucolytics” thatthins thick mucus that accumulate in sinuses and breathing passages(1). Various studies (done October 1992, 1993, April 1996, January1994) stated that garlic might have an effect in decreasing tumors inthe body. Adverse effects that can be related to over-consumption ofgarlic include stomach upset and garlic breath (3).


This mineral can be found in tuna, whole grains, brown rice, chicken meat, garlic and cottage cheese.
This mineral is also a cancer-fighting mineral (1).

Selenium is an essential cofactor for glutathione peroxidase (which is one of the most important antioxidant enzymes).
Selenium has the ability to detoxify heavy metals e.g. mercury and cadmium.
Selenium can be seen as an anti-inflammatory enhancer (4).

OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids
This fatty acid increases the activity of our white blood cells thatconsume bacteria in our body (phagocytes). These fatty acids also helpyour body against the damage from over-reactions to infections (1).Omega-3 and -6 supplementation will effect the following positively:

Learning and behaviour in older children
Depression in adults
Neurological problems in the elderly. These neurological problems include cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease


Alcohol is an:

Anti-nutrient nutrient
Alcohol is a nutrient that interferes with your body’s ability to absorb and store other nutrients. This will lead to your body having too much of an anti-nutrient and too few real nutrients.
Empty nutrient
Alcoholic beverages contain tons of calories (about 7 calories per gram), but no vitamins and minerals. 7 Calories per gram classifies alcohol as being almost twice as high in calories as carbohydrates and protein, but 2 calories less than fat.
Addictive narcotic
Alcohol is very addictive and the misuse of alcohol is a problem all over the world. Although the initial sensation of alcohol is usually exhilaration, you usually experience depression later on.
Regularusage of alcohol will lead to weight gain because your liver is a vitalorgan that metabolises protein and fat, continued misuse of alcoholwill interfere with protein and fat metabolism.

Go the Organic Way

It is believed that organic foods contain about 50% more vitamins and minerals than other grown foods. Your meal will contain more vitamins and minerals, meaning more vitamin C, calcium and iron just to name a few. It is necessary to get your additional vitamins and minerals in, but by eating food that is more natural and has a higher nutritional value, you can avoid overdoing the pills.
On average, an apple has about 20-30 artificial poisons that can be found on its skin, even after rinsing it.
The modern way of growing food is to genetically modify the food to be bigger or to enable them to produce more.
By “going organic,” you can avoid most genetically modified food types.
The standard for growing organic foods is laid down by European law and farms need to enforce these laws to the fullest. These farms are also inspected at least once a year.
An animal lover? This organic approach is acknowledged by most animal welfare organisations.
The use of routine antibiotics is prohibited by the Soil Association Standards in organic farming. The use of antibiotics on farm animals has caused many debates and is believed by many to cause harm to the human consumers.
The organic way also has great respect for wildlife and the preservation of it.
Organic foods are natural and full of flavour.

Your Family

If you are a mother or father reading the following, there is a chance that one of your children will:

Inherit a slow metabolism, therefore struggle with weight related problems.
Develop bad eating habits.
Itis found that only one out of four parents will admit that theirchildren have weight problems, where most of these parents think theirchild’s weight is just right. Extensive studies have shown that parentsare in denial regarding obesity in themselves and their children.

Itis important to accept yourself in all aspects, but obesity is aserious health risk and can cause emotional damage. A study done onchildren that came from non-obese families (A) and obese families (B)showed children coming from B were already more overweight thanchildren coming from A (5). This automatically puts more emphasis onthe environment in which you grow up in and the effect it has on yourlifestyle.

What do the Statistics Show

Obesity is becoming a problem everywhere in the world.
It’s been shown that more than a quarter of children between the agesof 6 and 11, are obese. More shockingly, overweight children betweenthe ages of 6 and 17 have doubled in the last thirty years. Children atthe age of 6 that are obese have a 25% chance to be obese as adult.Even worse, children obese at 12 will have a 75% chance to beoverweight in adulthood.

Problems arising from being overweight:

Bone problems where hip problems are the most common.
Liver problems
Breathing problems
Self-esteem problems
Early puberty can also be a cause of early obesity.
Childhood diabetes can result from overweight problems.

How to keep your child from obesity

The best way will always be prevention. It will be much easier to maintain a healthy body weight than it would be to lose weight. Try to imagine explaining to your ten year old why they must exercise.
The environment in which your child grows up in must be of such a nature that it does not enforce or create a weight gain problem.
Set realistic goals for your child and work with them. This may be a very good lesson for your child and teach them the value of sticking with something and seeing it through.
Teach your children that what the media advertise (thin people and “how you are suppose to look”) is not necessarily right and can be misleading most of the times (6).

For those that need a Summary...

Get plenty of sleep.
Have an annual health check.
Find a hobby.
Meet with friends regularly.
Take in your antioxidants each day.
Incorporate garlic in your diet.
Try to maintain your ideal body weight.
Have fun.
Do not smoke.
Exercise regularly.
Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90.
Add raw juice to your daily diet.
Drink water.
Go on exotic holidays (or just relax in your back garden).
Eat lots of fish.
See that you cholesterol levels do not exceed 240mg/dl.
Accept yourself as you are.


It is necessary to leave behind the stigma that is attached to healthyliving as something that’s boring. Healthy living can be easy and immensely rewarding if you know how and what to do, and if you enrich yourself with more knowledge every day.

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