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Short about vitamins and minerals

May 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene)

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that occurs in nature in two forms: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A, or carotene.
Preformed vitamin A can be found in fish liver oils, animal livers; carotene can be found in green and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin A is very important for:

• Eyes (This supplement prevents night blindness and other eye problems. Heavy use of the eyes for watching television and working under glaring lights require more vitamin A.)
• Skin and Mucous Membranes (This supplement prevents skin disorders such as acne, helps maintain smooth, soft, disease-free skin. Internally it helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infection.)
• Immune System (Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant. It enhances immunity, may heal gastrointestinal ulcers, protects against pollution and cancer formation.)
• Epithelial tissue (It is needed for epithelial tissue maintenance and repair.)
• Digestive System (Protein cannot be utilised by the body without this supplement.)

Vitamin A should not be taken in large amounts in pill form or cod liver oil by those suffering from liver disease.
Antibiotics, laxatives, and some cholesterol-lowering drugs interfere with vitamin A absorption.

Diabetics should avoid beta-carotene as should hypothyroid individuals, because they cannot convert beta-carotene to vitamin A.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

The B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins which help to maintain healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and mouth, as well as muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. The B-vitamins should always be taken together, but up to two or three times more of one B-vitamin than another can be taken for a particular disorder.

Thiamine acts as coenzyme participating in the complex process of glucose conversion into energy.

Food sources of thiamine include dried beans, brown rice, egg yolks, fish, organ meats (liver), peanuts, peas, pork, poultry, rice, bran, soybeans, wheat germ, most nuts, and whole grains.

Vitamin B1 is important for:

• Nervous System (Thiamine known as the “noble vitamin” because of its relation to a healthy nervous system, its beneficial effect on mental attitude and individual learning capacity.)
• Digestive System (Thiamine is essential for stabilising the appetite by improving food assimilation and digestion, in particular that of starches, sugars, and alcohol.)

Antibiotics, sulfa drugs, may decrease thiamine level in the body. A high-carbohydrate diet increases the need for thiamine. Thiamine is vulnerable to heat, air and water in cooking.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

The B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins which help to maintain healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and mouth, as well as muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. The B-vitamins should always be taken together, but up to two or three times more of one B-vitamin than another can be taken for a particular disorder.

Vitamin B2 is found in the following food products: beans, cheese, eggs, fish, meat, milk, poultry, spinach, and yogurt.

Riboflavin is necessary for:

• Eyes (Riboflavin is necessary for the maintenance of good vision. It alleviates eye strain and is important in the prevention and treatment of cataracts)
• Digestive System (Vitamin B2 functions as part of a group of enzymes that are involved in the breakdown and utilisation of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It maintains and improves the mucous membranes in the digestive tract)
• Oxygen Usage (Riboflavin facilitates oxygen use by the body tissues (skin, nails, hair))
• Blood Formation (Riboflavin helps the uptake of iron and therefore is necessary for red blood cell formation)

Factors that increase the need for riboflavin include strenuous exercise. This B vitamin is stable to heat, oxidation and acid although it is easily destroyed by ultraviolet light, antibiotics, and alcohol.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

The B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins which help to maintain healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and mouth, as well as muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. The B-vitamins should always be taken together, but up to two or three times more of one B-vitamin than another can be taken for a particular disorder.

Niacin is found in beef, broccoli, carrots, cheese, corn flour, eggs, fish, milk, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, and whole wheat.

Vitamin B3 is needed for improving:

• Digestive System (As a coenzyme, niacin assists enzymes in the breakdown and utilisation of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is needed in the production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system)
• Cholesterol Level (Niacin is effective in improving circulation and reducing the cholesterol level in the blood)
• Mental Health (Vitamin B3 is effective in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses)

High amounts should be used with caution by those suffering from gout, peptic ulcers, glaucoma, liver disease, and diabetes.

Vitamin B3 is more stable than thiamine or riboflavin and is remarkably resistant to heat, light, air, acids, and alkalies.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

The B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins which help to maintain healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and mouth, as well as muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. The B-vitamins should always be taken together, but up to two or three times more of one B-vitamin than another can be taken for a particular disorder.

Pyridoxine is involved in more bodily functions than any other single nutrient. It affects both physical and mental health.

All foods contain small amounts of vitamin B6; however, the following foods have the highest amounts: brewer’s yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ.

Pyridoxine is needed for:

• Digestive System (Pyridoxine plays an important role as a coenzyme in the breakdown and utilisation of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is necessary in the production of hydrochloric acid.)
• Blood Formation (Pyridoxine must be present for the production of antibodies and red blood cells.)
• Reproduction of Cells (Pyridoxine is needed for the synthesis of RNA and DNA nucleic acids, which contain the genetic instructions for the reproduction of all cells and for normal cellular growth.)
• Sodium-Potassium Balancing (Vitamin B6 helps maintain the balance of sodium and potassium, which regulates body fluids and promotes the normal functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.)

Anti-depressants and estrogen may increase the need for vitamin B6 in the body. Because B6 is involved in the production of hydrochloric acid, people with stomach ulcers should seek a doctor’s advice before taking the vitamin in large doses.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient. It is found in green vegetables, berries, and citrus fruits, such as asparagus, avocados, beet greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lemons, oranges, tomatoes, and watercress.

Ascorbic Acid is needed for:
• Antioxidant Status (Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against the harmful effects of pollution, prevents cancer, protects against infection, and enhances immunity. It reduces the effects on the body of some allergy - producing substances. Ascorbic acid protects thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins A and E against oxidation.)
• Connective Tissue (A primary function of vitamin C is maintaining collagen, a protein necessary for the formation of connective tissue in skin, ligaments, and bones. It plays a role in healing wounds and burns.)

Aspirin, alcohol, analgesics, antidepressants, anticoagulants, and steroids may reduce levels of vitamin C in the body. Ascorbic acid is the least stable of vitamins and is very sensitive to oxygen.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which is found in the following food sources: cold-pressed vegetable oils, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and legumes. Significant quantities of this vitamin are also found in dry beans, brown rice, cornmeal, eggs, desiccated liver, milk, oat-meal, organ meats, sweet potatoes, and wheat germ.

Vitamin E is needed for:

Antioxidant Status (Vitamin E prevents saturated fatty acids and vitamin A from breaking down and combining with other substances that may become harmful to the body.)

Cellular Respiration (Vitamin E plays an essential role in cellular respiration of all muscles, especially cardiac and skeletal.Vitamin E makes it possible for these muscles and their nerves to function with less oxygen, thereby increasing their endurance and stamina)

Anticoagulation (Vitamin E is a highly effective antithrombin in the bloodstream, inhibiting coagulation of blood by preventing clots from forming.)

Eyes (Vitamin E is necessary for proper focusing of the eyes in middle age people)

Reproductive System (Vitamin E has an effect on the reproductive organs: it helps prevent miscarriages, increases male and female fertility, and helps restore male potency.)

Do not take iron at the same time that you take vitamin E. Those suffering from high blood pressure should start with a small amount and increase slowly to the desired amount. The body needs zinc in order to maintain the proper levels of vitamin E in the blood.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. About 99 percent of the calcium in the body is deposited in the bones and teeth.

A calcium deficiency may result in the following symptoms: muscle cramps, nervousness, heart palpitations, brittle nails, eczema, hypertension, increased cholesterol levels, rheumatoid arthritis, tooth decay, insomnia, rickets, and numbness in the arms and/or legs.

Sources of calcium include dairy foods, salmon (with bones), sardines, seafood, and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium is needed for:

• Bones and Teeth (The major function of calcium is to act in cooperation with phosphorus to build and maintain bones and teeth)
• Heart (Calcium helps regulate the heart beat)
• Acid/Alkaline Balance (Calcium helps prevent the accumulation of too much acid or too much alkaline in the blood)
• Nervous System (Calcium plays a part in nerve transmission.)

To function properly, calcium must be accompanied by magnesium, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, C, D, and E.

A high intake of calcium and Vitamin D is a potential source of hypercalcemia.

Iron

Iron is a mineral concentrate in the blood which is present in every living cell.
All iron exists in the body combined with protein.

Iron is found in eggs, fish, liver, meat, poultry, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals.

Iron is necessary for:

• Blood Formation (The major function of iron is to combine with protein and copper in making haemoglobin. Iron builds up the quality of the blood and increases resistance to stress and disease.)
• Muscles (Iron is necessary for the formation of myoglobin. Myoglobin is a transporter of oxygen; it supplies oxygen to the muscle cells for use in the chemical reaction that results in muscle contraction.)

Excessive amounts of zinc and vitamin E interfere with iron absorption. Those who engage in strenuous exercise and who perspire heavily deplete iron from the body. Because iron is stored in the body, high iron intake can cause problems. Increased iron in the tissues and organs leads to the production of free radicals and increases the need for vitamin E, an important antioxidant (free radical scavenger).

Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral found mainly in the intercellular fluid. Potassium constitutes 5 percent of the total mineral content of the body.

Food sources of potassium include dairy foods, fish, fruit, legumes, meat, poultry, vegetables, and whole grains.

It is specifically found in apricots, avocados, bananas, brown rice, garlic, nuts, potatoes.

Potassium is necessary for:

• Water Balance (Potassium and sodium help regulate water balance within the body and therefore help regulate the distribution of fluids on either side of the cell walls.)
• Nervous System (Potassium is important for a healthy nervous system and a regular heart rhythm.)
• Blood Pressure (Potassium aids in maintaining stable blood pressure.)

Use of diuretics, kidney disorders, diarrhea, and laxatives all deplete potassium level. Although potassium is needed for hormone secretion, hormones secreted as a result of stress cause a decrease in the potassium-sodium ratio both inside and outside the cell.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that accounts for about 0.05 percent of the body’s total weight.

Magnesium is found in most foods, especially diary products, fish, meat, and seafood. Other rich food sources include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, brown rice, garlic, nuts, salmon, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.

Magnesium is necessary for:

• Enzyme Activity (Most magnesium is found inside the cell, where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids.)
• Acid/Alkaline Balance (Magnesium helps regulate the acid/alkaline balance in the body.)
• Absorption and Metabolism (Magnesium helps promote absorption and metabolism of other minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. It also helps utilise the B complex and vitamins C and E in the body.)

Most magnesium is found inside the cell, where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids.

Consumption of alcohol, use of diuretics, diarrhea, the presence of fluoride, and high amounts of zinc and vitamin D all increase the body’s need for magnesium. Magnesium combined with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) may prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Large amounts of fats, cod liver oil, calcium, vitamin D, and protein decrease magnesium absorption. Foods high in oxalis acid, such as almonds, chard, cocoa, rhubarb, spinach, and tea, also inhibit magnesium absorption.

Sodium

Sodium is an essential mineral found predominantly in the extracellular fluids and within the bones.
Virtually all foods contain some sodium. High concentrations are contained in seafood, poultry and meat.

Sodium is necessary for:

• Acid/Alkaline Balance (Sodium functions with potassium to equalise the acid-alkaline factor in the blood.)
• Water Balance (Sodium along with potassium helps regulate water balance within the body; that is, it helps regulate the distribution of fluids on either side of the cell walls.)
• Blood and Lymph Systems (Sodium keeps the other blood minerals soluble, so that they will not build up as deposits in the blood stream. It acts with chlorine to improve blood and lymph system health.)

Excess sodium intake results in edema, high blood pressure, potassium deficiency, and liver and kidney disease. Sodium intake may lead to heart disease when not properly balanced with potassium.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and is found in every cell. A deficiency of phosphorus is rare because it is found in most foods, especially soya. Significant amounts of phosphorus are contained in asparagus, bran, brewer’s yeast, corn, dairy products, eggs, dried fruit, garlic, legumes, nuts, meats, poultry, fish, and whole grains.

Phosphorus is necessary for:

• Absorption and Metabolism (Phosphorus is important in the utilisation of carbohydrates, fats, and protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and for the production of energy.)

• Bones and Teeth (Phosphorus is needed for proper skeletal growth, tooth development.)

Excessive amounts of phosphorus interfere with calcium uptake. A diet consisting of junk food is a common culprit.

Phosphorus absorption depends on the presence or vitamin D and calcium. Absorption can be interfered with by excessive amounts of iron, aluminium, and magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace mineral found in the body in larger amounts than any other trace element except iron.

Zinc is found in the following food sources: fish, legumes, meats, oysters, poultry, seafood, and whole grains.

Zinc is necessary for:

• Prostate Gland (Zinc is essential for normal functioning of the prostate gland.)
• Reproductive Organs (Zinc is needed for general growth and proper development of the reproductive organs.)
• Absorption and Metabolism (Zinc is related to the normal absorption and action of vitamins, especially the B complex. It is a constituent of at least 25 enzymes involved in digestion and metabolism.
Zinc is a component of insulin and it is part of the enzyme that is needed to break down alcohol. It also plays a part in phosphorus metabolism.)
• Liver (Zinc protects the liver from chemical damage.)

Daily dosages of more than 100 milligrams of zinc can depress the immune system while dosages under 100 milligrams can enhance immune response. Zinc levels may be lowered by diarrhea, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, and fiber.

Sufficient intake and absorption of zinc is needed to maintain the proper concentrations of vitamin E in the blood.

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Related articles:
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin A

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