THE IMPORTANCE OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS: ESSENTIAL MICORNUTRIENTS FOR HEALTH

  • by: Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus Editorial Staff
  • December 8th, 2020

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for health. These are found in various foods and participate in several physiological processes that are essential for the proper function of the body.

WHY DO WE NEED VITAMINS?
Vitamins are essential for well-being because they are involved in vital biological processes. They intervene in some metabolic functions, and often act as co-enzymes, helping enzymes function properly. Their positive effect on health goes as far as preventing some chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and other various diseases, including cancer. The human body only requires vitamins in small amounts, but they need to be consumed through the diet because the human body is not able to synthesize them.

Vitamins are divided into two groups: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins rarely accumulate in the body and thus should be consumed every day through the diet. The deficiency of water-soluble vitamins is detected quickly as they can be excreted rapidly in urine. These vitamins include the B Vitamins, Vitamin H, Vitamin PP, and Vitamin C.

On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins can easily accumulate in the body, especially in the liver. They are absorbed together with fat sources from the diet. This group includes Vitamin A, D, E, and K.

WHY DO WE NEED MINERALS?
Mineral salts are organic substances essential for our body. They make up approximately 6% of body weight and are involved in several vital functions. Mineral do not provide energy, but they are required for reactions that release energy to all parts of our body. They contribute to the activation of metabolic processed of cells, tissues, and organs, and regulate water and salt balance, and are part of the musculoskeletal system. Mineral salts are absorbed through food, condiments, and water.

They are further divided into macro elements or trace elements (micro elements). Macro elements are present in the body in discrete quantities and are required only in grams or tenths of grams. A few examples are calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorous, chlorine, and sulfur. Trace elements (microelements) are present in smaller quantities and required only in micrograms and/or milligrams. These include iron, copper, zinc, selenium, fluorine, iodine, chromium, cobalt, manganese, and molybdenum. Other minerals are also present in trace amounts because the body only requires small quantities: silicon, cadmium, nickel, and vanadium.

Minerals and vitamins are found mainly in fresh fruit and vegetables. A balanced and varied diet ensure our daily needs for these important nutrients. In the case of vitamin deficiency, nutritionists recommend making nutritional adjustments, as well as taking multivitamins or specific vitamin supplements. It is also advised to get regular checkups to monitor vitamin and mineral levels.

Sources:
1. Vitamine – Informazioni generali – EPICENTRO (data ultimo accesso 30.05.2019)
2. Sali minerali – Informazioni generali – EPICENTRO (data ultimo accesso 30.05.2019)
3. Sali minerali – Oligoelementi o micronutrienti – EPICENTRO (data ultimo accesso 30.05.2019)
4. Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets – NIH National Institute of Health (data ultimo accesso 31.05.2019)
5. Vitamins & Minerals – CDC (data ultimo accesso 31.05.2019)
6. Investing in the Future: A United Call to Action on Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies. Global Report 2009

Join our NEWSLETTER

Join our Newsletter to stay updated with the Foundation projects and new advances in diseases prevention and treatment.