What are vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are essential components of foods and are needed for every structure and function in the human body. Antioxidants are a particular class of vitamins and minerals that protect against a form of cellular damage called oxidation. Antioxidants include some vitamins (vitamin C and E), some minerals (selenium and zinc) but also include many compounds found in plant foods that are not vitamins or minerals (like quercetin, found in onions and apples).
Why do I need vitamins and minerals?
Getting sufficient vitamins and minerals is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and energy levels.
Vitamins and minerals are needed for the health of the immune system, the circulatory system, the heart, brain and lungs. They are essential for detoxification, fat burning, protection from disease and for the general health of all organs and tissues. They also help the liver get rid of harmful substances that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Antioxidants in particular help protect your cells from the constant assault by rogue molecules called free radicals, an assault which can lead to disease and damage DNA.
How much do I need?
There are recommended daily allowances for most vitamins and minerals, but most experts believe these are way too low for optimal health and represent a kind of “minimum wage nutrition.” It’s always a good idea to speak to a health professional regarding your health history and individual needs for different nutrients.
How do I get vitamins and minerals into my diet?
Eating a variety of foods is the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals you need each day. Whole or unprocessed foods — like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and poultry — are the best choices for providing the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and grow properly. However, it is a good insurance policy to take a quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement on a daily basis.