Vitamins & Minerals
Essential Vitamins and MineralsREAD MORE
Vitamins are organic substances, meaning they’re made by plants or animals. Minerals come directly from the earth and are inorganic; however, minerals make their way through soil and water into the plants we consume, and from plants into the animals we consume. Vitamins and minerals, in addition to proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, are the life-giving nutrients that enrich our biological system and enable it to survive and thrive.
Life by the Numbers
Thirteen vitamins and sixteen minerals are essential for the body to function. Throughout this health center you’ll learn why they’re important and what they do.
|Vitamins (chemical Name)||Minerals|
|Vitamin A (retinol)||Calcium|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||Chloride|
|Vitamin D (calciferol)||Magnesium|
|Vitamin E (tocopherol)||Phosphorus|
|Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone)||Potassium|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine)||Sodium|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||Sulfur|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||Chromium|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||Copper|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||Flouride|
|Vitamin B7 (biotin)||Iodine|
|Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)||Iron|
|Vitamin B12 (cobalamins)||Manganese|
Macro and Micro
Dietary guidelines described by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion are designed in part to ensure we acquire nutrients in the right proportions. All essential nutrients are critical for staying healthy, but we require vitamins and minerals on a tiny scale compared to other nutrients. Dr. David Katz, Director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University’s School of Medicine, explains that nutrients can be loosely categorized by size — macronutrients and micronutrients — and suggests a rule of thumb for understanding the scale of difference between the two groups.
“Macronutrients — carbohydrates, protein, and fat — are basically those that we consume in large enough quantities to see,” says Dr. Katz. “Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, which we consume in such small quantities that you would need a microscope to see them.” LESS
Nutrient Sources: By Man and By NatureREAD MORE
However, these days we’re not usually out gathering berries from the forest or chasing dinner across the prairie with a rock. Today we pluck our meals off supermarket shelves, and can easily be satiated by foods that have had the nutrients processed right out of them. Where evolution hasn’t quite caught up with our supermarket lifestyle, supplements and fortified foods can sometimes help recover nutritional balance. While there are appropriate uses for multivitamins and beneficial additives, neither is an ideal stand-in for a nutritional diet based on whole foods.
“Take supplements if so inclined, but never forget they are supplements, not substitutes,” says Dr. David Katz, Director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University’s School of Medicine. “For sure returns on investment, invest your greatest faith and efforts into providing your children and yourself a wholesome diet.” LESS