Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body needs to work properly.
The sheer range of nutrients we require is vast, and is best supplied by a healthy, balanced diet.
When that’s not possible, or during periods of particular need, supplements can assist in maintaining health and vitality.
Which vitamins and minerals are essential?
The essential minerals your body needs are: calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, potassium, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, fluoride, chloride and phosphorus.
Found in: meat, bread, fish, cereal, dairy foods, vegetables, fruit and nuts.
The 13 vitamins your body needs to maintain health are: A, C, D, E, K and the 8 B vitamins.
Vitamins can be divided into two types:
1. Fat-soluble: Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins in your liver and tissue for later use. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are found in fatty foods like: animal fats, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish.
2. Water-soluble: Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in your body, so they need to be regularly topped up. The water soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B vitamins) are found in: fruit, vegetables and grains.
As you can see, it’s quite an array, but it’s vital to have an adequate supply of nutrients in your diet.
The importance of keeping your body topped up with vital vitamins and minerals becomes clear when you look at the benefits they bring.
Building strong bones and teeth
Controlling body fluids inside and outside of cells
Turning the food you eat into energy
Vitamin A – good for your skin and eyesight
Vitamin C – keeps cells healthy
Vitamin D – regulates calcium and is essential for strong bones and teeth
Vitamin E – helps maintain cell structure
Vitamin K – aids with blood coagulation and cell growth
The eight B Vitamins:
Thiamin (B1) – helps convert glucose into energy
Riboflavin (B2) – for energy production and healthy eyes and skin
Niacin (B3) – converts energy and supports the nervous and digestive system
Pantothenic Acid (B5) – produces red blood cells and steroid hormones
Pyridoxine (B6) – influences brain processes and development, immune function and steroid hormone activity.
Biotin (B7) – for metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism and glycogen synthesis.
Folate (Folic Acid) (B9) – needed to form red blood cells, and helps DNA synthesis and cell growth.
Cyanocobalamin (B12) – helps break down fatty acids to produce energy, and helps produce and maintain the myelin found around nerve cells.
Boosting vitamin and mineral intake
For your body to perform at its maximum potential you need to consume a wide variety of essential nutrients and vitamins.
This is especially important for those who work out – because training can put additional stress on the body.
A multivitamin supplement could help you to support your body during training, when there is a risk of becoming depleted of essential nutrients.
How to use vitamin and mineral supplements
Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. For additional information, these are the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals as stated by the European Union.
Vitamin, RDA, Mineral, RDA
Vitamin A, 800 mg, Calcium, 800 mg
Vitamin D, 5 mg, Magnesium, 375 mg
Vitamin E, 12 mg, Iron, 14 mg
Vitamin K, 75 mg, Copper, 1 mg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), 1.1 mg, Iodine, 150 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), 1.4 mg, Zinc, 10 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin), 16 mg, Manganese, 2 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), 6 mg, Potassium, 2000 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), 1.4 mg, Selenium, 55 mg
Vitamin B7 (Biotin), 50 mg, Chromium, 40 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate), 200 mg, Molybdenum, 50 mg
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalmin), 2.5 mg, Fluoride, 3.5 mg
Vitamin C, 80 mg, Chloride, 800 mg
, , Phosphorus, 700 mg
Eat a healthy and varied diet and discuss your supplementary needs with a medical practitioner before commencing a programme of supplements.