Vitamins and Minerals

The Basics:

Easier.Vitamins and minerals are needed for growth and good health. The vitamins and minerals you need are found in the food you eat. It’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Some food is enriched. This means that vitamins or minerals were added. For example, bread and milk are enriched. Some people also take vitamin pills.

Harder – Vitamins are chemical compounds and minerals are chemical elements. They are nutrients for the human body that are contained within food substances. Vitamins control the chemical reactions within the body to convert food into energy and living tissue. They help the body use the energy nutrients, maintain normal body tissue, act as a regulator, and are only needed in small amounts. Minerals are needed for several body functions including building strong bones, transmitting nerve signals, maintaining a normal heart beat, and are used to produce necessary hormones.

There are a total of thirteen needed vitamins, four that are produced in the body itself. Biotin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin K are made in the human intestine and usually in adequate amounts to meet the body’s needs. Sunlight on the skin surfaces can produce sufficient amounts of vitamin K. The remaining vitamins must be supplied in the daily diet.

Each vitamin and mineral substance meets specific body needs that one of the other compounds cannot substitute or act for instead. However the lack or deficiency of one of them can sometimes interfere with another vitamin or mineral’s function. If a vitamin or mineral deficiency continues, the person can incur a related disease such as beriberi, pellagra, rickets, and scurvy. Conversely, too much of some minerals and vitamins brings on a toxic condition.

The best and recommended way for a healthy person to obtain needed vitamins and minerals is to eat well-balanced meals. A daily diet of varied foods can provide needed vitamin and mineral nutrients for maintaining a healthy body. Some people also take processed or manufactured vitamins in pill, liquid, or capsule form.


Knowing your VITAMINS AND MINERALS can help you in planning a healthy diet and prolong your longevity.



FUNCTION: Helps to fight infection; keeps glands, skin, gums healthy and maintains the respiratory and GI tract.

SOURCE: Dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, cabbage, kale, leeks, broccoli, parsley, watercress, turnip greens, fresh or dried apricots, red peppers, fish and dairy products. Cabbage and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables that contain compounds called isothiocyates. These are important compounds in cancer prevention. Cabbage also contains indole-3-carbinol, another anti-carcinogen.

B1 (thiamin):

FUNCTION: Aids in the promotion of proper nerve functioning, and helps with the digestion of carbohydrates by turning them into biological energy.

SOURCE: Enriched and unrefined cereals, legumes and nuts, and pork. The nuts and pork are high in fat or cholesterol, or both and should be used sparingly.

B2 (riboflavin):

FUNCTION: Necessary for maintaining the upkeep of the body’s energy level.

SOURCE: Green leafy vegetables, fruits and dairy products, Such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Breads and liver are another good source. Use pork and dairy products sparingly because of their high fat and cholesterol content, and use the low fat variety whenever possible.

B3 (niacin):

FUNCTION: Lowers cholesterol levels in the blood when they are very high and possibly protect against cardiovascular disease.

SOURCE: Cereal, yeast, legumes, fish, meat and liver. Eat meats and especially liver sparingly because of their high fat and cholesterol content.


FUNCTION: Needed for the breakdown of protein, necessary for maintaining and building of muscle tissue.

SOURCE: Vegetables, whole grains, bananas, fish and poultry. Also in beef and pork which are high in fats and should be used only once or twice weekly, trimming all fat and in smaller portions.


FUNCTION: Necessary in the functioning of cells and forming and maintaining healthy nerve tissue.

SOURCE: Shellfish, fish and poultry. Also in the higher fat content foods such as eggs, meats and meat products.

FOLIC ACID (part of the B complex)

FUNCTION: Supports the immune system and the nervous system. Used in the treatment of senility, coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease, and brain vascular disease. Necessary for the formation of red blood cells and thus aids in prevention of anemia. Can aid in cervical cancer prevention. Also extremely important in preventing the malformation of the nervous system in fetuses. Involved in many metabolic reactions necessary for proper growth.

SOURCE: Dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, and romaine), and oranges. Brewers yeast, rice and beans. Liver an organ meat, high in fat and cholesterol should be eaten sparingly.


FUNCTION: Necessary for the formation of fatty acids essential for the proper functioning of many bodily functions.

SOURCE: Corn, yeast and mushrooms. Also in liver, which is an organ meat and egg yolks, which are both high in cholesterol.

C (ascorbic acid):

FUNCTION: Prevents gingivitis and the bleeding of gums. Keeps the blood vessels strong and protects the vascular system. Helps in the healing of cuts and bruises.

SOURCE: All citrus fruits. Green vegetables, kale, leeks, turnip greens, broccoli, watercress, brussels sprouts, tomatoes and cabbage. Broccoli and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables that contain compounds called isothiocynates, which are important in cancer prevention. Cabbage also contains indole-3-carbinol, another anti-carcinogen. Turnips are high in chlorohyll and folic acid.


FUNCTION: Needed for the building and maintaining the teeth and bones. For the body to absorb calcium, vitamin D is necessary.

SOURCE: Fish, cod liver oil, butter, egg yolks and fortified milk. These foods are high in fats and cholesterol and should be reduced in your diet. Use the low fat variety where possible.


FUNCTION: Can possibly protect against heart disease. Aids in forming of red blood cells. Vitamin E is also utilized in forming muscle tissue and other body tissues. May also breast tenderness and swelling that can occur in premenstrual syndrome. Thins the blood and can aid in alleviating leg cramps. Prevents cholesterol from sticking to the inside of your arteries.

SOURCE: Vegetable oils, especially peanut and wheat oils. Green leafy vegetables. Nuts, seeds, and beans. Whole wheat and brown rice. Seafood and poultry are another source.


FUNCTION: Necessary for normal blood clotting. There may possibly be a decreased factor in the blood thinning ability of medication being taken for the thinning of blood.

SOURCE: Broccoli, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts turnip greens and other green leafy vegetables. Individuals on drugs for the prevention of blood clotting should discuss the use of the above foods with their doctor, due to the high vitamin K content of these foods, there may be increased bleeding. There may be a decreased factor in the blood thinning ability of their medication.

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