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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are chemicals that come from food used to support the health. Minerals make and break down body tissues, and regulates metabolism. There are many varieties of vitamins and minerals, for example foods containing vitamins A, C and E contain antioxidants, which can help to reduce the ageing process. The Mineral Magnesium helps to convert food into energy. Unfortunately vitamins and minerals can only be sourced by food. This is the reason it is important to have a balanced diet, to ensure essential vitamins and minerals are met.
There are many vitamins and minerals available, but it would be too long to describe each mineral and each vitamin. Below is a summary of the main vitamins and minerals that are popular at the moment.
Vitamin B
Vitamin B has many forms. One of them is called Thiamin. It helps to keep the membranes and the nervous system in order. They can be found in bread, cereals and potatoes. Vitamin B also contains folate, which produces folic acid. This is important for pregnant women in order to reduce the chances of the baby having spinal bifida, which is a certain type of condition that can affect the spine.
The other form is called Riboflavin, which helps in relation to the growth and the development of DNA, and other chemical reactions. They can be found in cheese, fish, yoghurt, red meat, but also beans.
Vitamin C
Also called ascorbic acid, it produces collagen and blood vessels needed for gums and teeth. They can be found in oranges, strawberries, blackcurrants, Brussels sprouts and potatoes.
Vitamin D
This vitamin helps to absorb the mineral calcium and phosphorus, it can be found in sunlight, but it can also be found in eggs, and fish. The elderly, and certain groups of people whom cover their body for religious reasons, are at a greater risk of having a low vitamin D intake.
Vitamin E
This is an antioxidant which can help to reduce the process of ageing in the body. It also produces red blood cells and helps to prevent blood clotting. It can be found in prawns, almonds, nuts and beans.
Minerals
As stated previously minerals are needed to help chemical reactions in the body. For example sodium helps to control the amount of water in the body used when we are sweating during heavy exercise, or when the weather is at a very high temperature. The body regulates the amount of water in partnership with sodium. There are very many minerals needed for our bodies, some which will be explained below
Calcium
Found in bones and teeth, calcium helps to keep them strong and healthy. This is absorbed by working with the vitamin, Vitamin D. A suitable intake of Vitamin D is needed in order to avoid reducing the chances of poorly managed gums and teeth. Great sources of calcium include spinach, milk, cheese and almonds.
Copper
This is used to produce the pigment in hair, skin, bones and teeth. It is involved in a variety of processes including the protection of body cells against chemical damage, to process iron, and the role of the functioning of the nervous system. Copper can be found in seafood, nuts and wholegrain foods.
Iron
This is an essential mineral as it the component of red blood cells. This helps to carry oxygen around the body. Women need more iron than men due to women undergoing certain body changes including pregnancy, childbirth, and heavy menstruation. Anaemia is the most widespread cause of lack of a poor intake of iron. Pregnant and breastfeeding females are at a greater risk. Good sources of these include red meat, fish, pulses and spinach.
Zinc
Very important in the production of the immune system, especially DNA. It also helps to control the male hormone testosterone, and helps to convert this into the female sex hormone oestrogen. Great sources of zinc include dairy products i.e. cheese, milk and yoghurt, also soya beans, nuts and eggs.
The above gives a clear indication of the importance of consuming a varied balanced diet. The diet should be made up of at least 30% carbohydrate based foods, 30% should be based on fruit and vegetables, 10% should come from dairy foods, high fat and high sugar, and also should come from meat and other alternatives. If a balanced diet is made up of these varieties there should be an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, needed by the body, to sustain life and health.
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Vitamins and Minerals

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