Finding a proper diet to meet your nutritional needs ain’t easy. It helps to know the different types and amounts of nutrients you need. Whether you regularly take a multivitamin, a couple supplements, or prefer to get all your nutritional needs through whole foods, let this introductory guide help you understand the different types of vitamins and minerals you need to feel your best.
Vitamins are necessary for our physiological function and often serve as cofactors for enzymes. The absence of vitamins can cause deficiencies that lead to serious long-term health conditions. Minerals are also essential to the body’s function and are comprised of two groups: macrominerals and microminerals. Both vitamins and minerals are important for maintaining water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, metabolism, and digestion.
Vitamins that are fat-soluble are stored in body fat and can build up over time. If your fat intake is low, take medication, or have a health condition that interferes with your body’s fat absorption you may be at risk for deficiencies. Vitamins can also be toxic when stored in the body in excess. Balance is key for maintaining healthy bodily function. Two fat-soluble vitamins that commonly require monitoring are vitamin A and D.
Fat-soluble vitamins include:
These vitamins are flushed out of the body and need to be replenished daily.
Examples of water-soluble vitamins include all B vitamins and most commonly B6, B112, and folate. These vitamins are responsible for supporting the nervous system, regulating cellular reactions, and creating energy in the body.
Water-soluble vitamins include:
Macro minerals are needed in large amounts and are often deficient in the regular diet. Calcium and potassium are all examples of macro minerals. A deficiency in calcium can lead to low bone mineral density and diseases like osteoporosis. Potassium deficiency is not usually a result of dietary intake, but more likely due to excessive loss of potassium through the skin or urine.
Micro or trace minerals are minerals that are required in small amounts. These minerals play a huge role in maintaining your health. Iron and zinc are the most common micro mineral deficiencies. Iron is necessary for oxygen to travel through tissues and organs, while zinc supports the immune system.