Vitamin and Mineral Search Tool
The Importance of Vitamins and Minerals
We all probably have some knowledge of vitamins, what they are and what they do. Most of us would agree that vitamins are, in general, good for us. It’s surprising, therefore, and rather alarming, to read the results of a recent government survey containing the following facts:
Facts about Vitamins and Minerals
Over 40% of the population consumes a diet containing only 60% of the recommended daily intake for 10 of the key vitamins.
50% of respondents were deficient in vitamin B6.
42% of respondents did not consume sufficient calcium. 39% of respondents had insufficient iron intake.
25-39 % of respondents did not obtain enough vitamin C.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by eating too much processed or “junk” foods, drinking too much alcohol, experiencing high amounts of stress, being addicted to drugs – prescription or otherwise – and living in a polluted environment.
The body’s ability to adapt is amazing, but, over time, continually not getting enough vitamins and minerals can take a toll on the body one way or the other. Aside from possible diseases and ailments, you may be feeling generally run down, lacking energy to fully enjoy life.
Benefits of Vitamin Consumption
Recent evidence has shown many life-threatening conditions that can be improved or avoided by vitamin consumption:
High doses of vitamin D produce a lower incidence of breast cancer;
Folic acid and vitamin B6 have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer;
Zinc and selenium mineral supplement users have fewer respiratory and urogenital infections;
Long term use of multivitamins and folic acid may reduce the risk of colon cancer;
The use of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D daily lowered the incidence of fractures by 20%;
Vitamin E has been shown to slow the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The body of evidence linking vitamins to good health continues to grow, and there are many anecdotal accounts of success stories related to good nutrition.
In the ideal world you would get all your vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat because “natural” is usually best. The scientific evidence for this is based on the fact that there are many other chemicals associated with these vitamins which may be collectively important for the optimum functioning of the vitamin or mineral within the body.
Many of the vitamins you take as supplements are manufactured from chemicals that mirror the vitamin molecule. These synthetic vitamins are identical to the naturally occurring vitamin found in foods. However there are many other components within food that may be associated with the vitamin and aid in its functioning within the body. For this reason you should strive to obtain as many of the vitamins and minerals from your meals.
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What Are Minerals?
Minerals are naturally occurring elements found in the soil. They came from mineral salts within rocks that have broken down over a period of millions of years. Plants absorb minerals from the ground they grow in, and people get minerals from eating the plants and from eating animals that have eaten plants. About 60 minerals have been identified in the human body, 17 of which are considered essential for human health.
Minerals are classified by the amount found in the body.
Macrominerals – calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous, for example – are found in significant amounts, about 5 grams or more.
Microminerals (also known as trace minerals) are found in tiny quantities of only a few milligrams or less; boron, copper, zinc and silicon are examples.
How minerals affect health
Every cell in the body contains minerals, and almost every body function involves minerals in some way. Minerals are needed for the proper composition of body fluids, the maintenance of healthy nerve function, the regulation of muscle tone and the use of calcium in bone composition.
Like vitamins, minerals function as co-enzymes, enabling the body to perform its functions, including energy production, growth and healing and all enzyme activities involve minerals.
Minerals’ most important functions are to keep our body tissues strong and healthy and regulate important body processes.
Recommended Dietary Intake for minerals.
The following tables indicate the amount of mineral you should take each day.
*The numbers in bold type represent the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of nutrients. When there is not enough scientific evidence available to establish an RDA, the Adequate Intake (AI) is presented. These numbers are shown in ordinary type followed by an asterisk (*).
These recommended values are for normal, apparently healthy people who consume a typical mixed North American diet. People with certain health conditions and those with restricted diets may have different nutritional needs.
1 The requirement for iron is 1.8 times higher for vegetarians, because the body doesn’t absorb iron as well from the foods that make up a vegetarian diet.
2 It is assumed that girls younger than 14 years do not menstruate and that girls 14 and older do menstruate.
3 It is assumed that women 51 years and older are postmenopausal.
Sources: Health Canada; National Academy of Sciences