Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that are most commonly found in the food that we eat that keep our bodies healthy and functioning properly. For the majority of people, it is possible for them to get all the vitamins and minerals they need from a varied, balanced diet, however, some people may need to take supplements to ensure they get their daily intake.
There are two categories of vitamins, which are:
Fat-soluble vitamins - These are vitamins A, D, E and K. They dissolve in the body’s fat and are stored inside the body and only utilised when needed.
Water-soluble vitamins - These include vitamins C and B-complex vitamins such as B12 and folate. These vitamins dissolve in water but cannot be stored in the body. Any amount of these vitamins that are not used is excreted from the body. So you will need some of each every day.
Minerals come from the soil and water and are consumed through their absorption into plants and animals that we eat. Calcium, iron and zinc are all examples of essential minerals.
All vitamins and minerals have different jobs when it comes to human health. For example, some help with your immunity to infections, whereas some help to support healthy bone development. Because they all have such varied properties it is important that you try to get enough of all of them.
Who might benefit from taking vitamins and minerals?
For most healthy people it is not necessary for them to take vitamin and mineral supplements and that is because it is possible to get adequate amounts of each from your diet and lifestyle alone.
If you are worried that you may not be getting enough of your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals you should speak to a healthcare professional before taking supplements.
There are certain people that may be at slightly more risk of not getting enough vitamins and minerals from their diet, however, and it is likely that if you fall into any of these groups you will be advised of what vitamins and minerals you should take. These people include:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfed babies and children up to age 5 years
- Vegans, vegetarians or those who do not have all of these categories in their diet: whole-grain products, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, and meats.
- People with certain health conditions may mean they are at an increased risk of malnutrition including kidney disease, chronic lung disease, Crohn’s disease, certain cancers, dementia and cystic fibrosis.