The word “Vitamin” is composed of two parts: “vital” which means essential and “amine” because it was previously thought that this compound was amine in its nature. Multivitamins are a mixture of vitamins and minerals which are essential for the body to work and stay healthy.
We sometimes try multivitamin supplements without knowing what kind of vitamins and minerals we need to take, and the functions of every element and how it affects our body. This will be covered in this article.
The Essential Vitamins
There are two types of vitamins, fat soluble vitamins (vitamins which dissolve in fat) which are vitamins A, D, E and K, and Water soluble vitamins which are B complex, C, and folate (folic acid).
The functions of fat soluble vitamins:
1. Vitamin A – Growth, development, enhancement of our immune system, this vitamin is essential for our eyesight, especially night vision.
* Deficiency signs – Night blindness, skin problems with an increase in the rate of acquiring infections
* Great natural sources – liver, kidney, eggs and fish liver oil.
2. Vitamin D – This is important for bone formation, it works by controlling calcium absorption and excretion. Recent studies show that vitamin D inhibits some forms of cancer growth.
* Deficiency signs – Rickets (disease characterized by deformities in the skeleton — especially hands, legs and chest bones, and pain in the bones and muscle weakness).
* Great natural sources – Cod liver oil, milk, eggs, liver and oily fish.
3. Vitamin E – It works as an antioxidant (protects our tissues from free-radical damage) and has other functions such as improving blood circulation and removing wound scars.
* Deficiency signs – none reported
* Great natural sources – wheat germ oil, almonds, sun flower oil and peanuts.
4. Vitamin K – Its major function is its role in the blood coagulation process which prevents our body from bleeding to death.
* Deficiency signs – Excessive bleeding or poor blood coagulation action.
* Great natural sources – spinach, broccoli, eggs and meat.
The functions of water soluble vitamins:
1. Vitamin C – It plays a vital role in the formation of several enzymes, absorption of iron, antioxidant function, formation of collagen (which leads to healthy skin and joints) and wound healing.
* Deficiency signs – Scurvy (a disease characterized by bleeding from the gums, bleeding from the skin, fatigue and delayed wound healing).
* Great natural sources – Kiwi and citrus fruits, guava, mango and broccoli.
2. Vitamin B complex – A complex of vitamins that total more than ten individual nutrients; the most essential being B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine) and B12 (Cyanocobalamin).
* Functions – These vitamins play an important role in the body’s energy production, nervous system, immune system, and iron absorption.
* Deficiency signs – Vitamin B12 anemia (a disease characterized by fatigue, pallor, an increased heart beat rate and lack of energy). Some other signs include emotional disturbance, skin disease, tongue inflammation and hair loss.
* Great Natural sources – Meat, liver, milk, yeast and its products, nuts and whole grain cereals.
3. Folic acid – Essential in the formation of RNA and DNA.
* Deficiency signs – Megaloblastic anemia (a disease characterized by fatigue, pallor, increased heart beat rate and lack of energy) and possible infertility.
* Great natural sources – spinach, Brussels sprouts, green beans and cauliflower.
The Essential Minerals
The minerals are classified into three parts: macro, trace, and ultra trace minerals. The essential minerals which we need to be healthy are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, and fluorine. The essential trace elements are copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iodine.
The functions of the most important essential minerals:
1. Calcium – Plays an important role in bone and teeth formation and nervous system health.
* Deficiency – Leads to stunted growth, increased rate of bone fractures and nervous system problems.
* A natural source – milk.
2. Iron – Plays an important role in red blood cell formation.
* Deficiency – Leads to iron deficiency anemia which is characterized by fatigue, pallor, concave nails with white lines and an increased heart beat rate.
* Natural sources – eggs, meat, liver and fish.
3. Zinc – Essential for growth and development, enhances immune function and wound healing, increases fertility.
* Deficiency – Leads to skin inflammation, hair loss, sore throat, delayed growth and diarrhea.
* Natural sources – meat, vegetables with leaves, whole grains, milk and eggs.
The functions of the most important essential trace minerals:
1. Iodine – This is essential for growth and development because it is a component of thyroid hormones.
* Deficiency – goiter (a disease characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland and a decreased heart beat rate).
* Natural sources – milk, sea fish, and iodized salt.
2. Chromium – Assists in glucose utilization by enhancement of insulin action.
* Deficiency – weight loss and an inability to tolerate glucose.
* Natural sources – meat, whole grains and nuts.
You can use the best natural sources of vitamins and minerals in your daily routine, the most important components are: milk, eggs, vegetables, fish and whole grain cereals.