Vitamins and Minerals and what they do
Vitamins and Minerals
Perform many vital functions for the body;
But what are they, and what exactly do they do for us?
What are vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals perform many vital functions for the body and can lower your risk for many chronic diseases and cancers. These substances are essential to normal metabolism, growth and development, and regulation of the functioning of your body’s cells and tissues. Vitamins and minerals are obtained from food, except for vitamin D and vitamin K, which the body can synthesize. Minerals are simple chemical elements and are an essential part of your body’s functioning. Minerals cannot be synthesized by your body and must be obtained through the food you eat.
What is a vitamin or mineral deficiency?
A deficiency of a vitamin or mineral can result if you are not getting enough of it in your diet, your ordinary nutritional needs increase, or you are unable to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. A deficiency or lack of a vitamin or mineral in your diet can lead to a nutritional deficiency disease, such as rickets. There are complex interactions among vitamins and minerals, and a deficiency or excess of one affects others.
What is the difference between a water soluble vitamin and a fat soluble vitamin?
A water soluble vitamin (vitamin B and C) can not be stored by the body and must be replenished every day. A vitamin that is stored by the body is known as a fat soluble (vitamin A, D, E, and K). Over time fat soluble vitamins can build up to toxic levels.
What are the Daily Recommended Allowances (RDAs)?
Two agencies, the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have both issued standards for meeting the nutritional needs of men, women, and children. Expressed as RDA, they generally indicate the amount of a particular nutrient that is needed to avoid nutritional diseases.
What are antioxidant vitamins and why are they important?
Our bodies are actually battlegrounds for infection and diseases. Normal body functions, such as breathing or physical activity, and other lifestyle habits, such as smoking, produce substances called free radicals that attack healthy cells. When these healthy cells are weakened, they are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and cartenoids, which include beta-carotene and lutein, help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals.
We have vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.
Whatever happened to vitamins F-J?
Vitamins are named in the order of discovery. Later research found vitamins F-J closely related to other vitamins, mainly the B complex group, and were
A Partial List of the Vitamins and Minerals in Moringa Leaf™
Vitamin A (Beta carotene)
Definition: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Function: Vitamin A (retinol) essential in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucous membranes, and skin. It may also be required for reproduction and lactation. It is also known as retinol because it generates the pigments in the retina. Vitamin A promotes good vision, especially in dim light. When Vitamin A is manufactured by plants, it is present in the form of a precursor called beta carotene. Beta carotene is an anti-oxidant—a substance that protects the body against disease and premature aging by fighting the cell-damaging chemicals called free radicals. Vegetable sources of beta-carotene are fat and cholesterol free (not so with vitamin A from dairy and meat products). The body regulates the conversion of beta-carotene to Vitamin A based on the body’s needs. The more intense the color of a fruit or vegetable, the higher the beta-carotene content.
Deficiency: Vitamin A deficiency can increase the susceptibility to infectious diseases, as well as cause vision problems.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Definition: Vitamin B1, one of the B vitamins, a group of water-soluble vitamins that participate in many of the chemical reactions in the body. Thiamine is important in the production of energy.
Function: Thiamine helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
Deficiency: A deficiency of thiamine can cause weakness, fatigue, psychosis, and nerve damage.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Definition: A water-soluble vitamin required by the body for health, growth and reproduction; one of the B-complex vitamins.
Function: Riboflavin works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and red cell production, and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates. Because riboflavin is destroyed by exposure to light, foods with riboflavin should not be stored in glass containers that are exposed to light.
Deficiency: Deficiency symptoms include dry and cracked skin and eyes that are sensitive to bright light.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Definition: Niacin (vitamin B3) is a water-soluble vitamin required by the body for health, growth and reproduction; part of the vitamin B complex.
Function: Niacin assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves. It is also important for the conversion of food to energy.
Deficiency: A deficiency of niacin causes pellagra. The symptoms include inflamed skin, digestive problems, and mental impairment.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Definition: A water-soluble vitamin, part of the B complex.
Function: Vitamin B6 plays a role in the synthesis of antibodies in the immune system. It helps maintain normal nerve function and acts in the formation of red blood cells. It is also required for the chemical reactions of proteins. The higher the protein intake, the more need for vitamin B6.
Deficiency: Deficiency of this vitamin is not common in the United States.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin, formerly vitamin H)
Definition: Biotin, a water-soluble vitamin, helps the body break down and use food. Biotin is part of the B vitamin complex.
Function: Biotin is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates (like the other B vitamins), and in the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol.
Deficiency: There is no known dietary deficiency of Biotin.
Vitamin C (Absorbic acid)
Definition: A water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development.
Function: Vitamin C promotes healthy teeth and gums, helps in the absorption of iron, aids in the maintenance of normal connective tissue, and promotes wound healing. It also helps the body’s immune system.
Deficiency: A deficiency of vitamin C causes the disease scurvy, which is rare in the U.S.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)
Definition: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is used in the absorption of calcium.
Function: Vitamin D promotes the body’s absorption of calcium, which is essential for the normal development of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain adequate blood levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body manufactures the vitamin after being exposed to sunshine. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times weekly is adequate to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D.
Deficiency: A vitamin D deficiency leads to soft bones (rickets).
Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Definition: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin; it is one of the vitamins that act as antioxidants.
Function: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects body tissue from the damage of oxidation. It is important in the formation of red blood cells and the use of vitamin K.
Deficiency: There is no known dietary deficiency of vitamin E.
Definition: Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting.
Function: Vitamin K is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it blood would not clot. Some studies indicate that it helps in maintaining strong bones in the elderly. Vitamin K is also made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract.
Deficiency: Vitamin K deficiency is very rare. It occurs when there is an inability to absorb the vitamin from the intestinal tract, and can also occur after prolonged treatment with oral antibiotics.
Minerals in Moringa Leaf™
Definition: The most plentiful mineral found in the human body; calcium accounts for 1.5% to 2% of an adult’s total body weight. The teeth and the bones contain the majority of the body’s calcium (about 99%). Calcium in these tissues is concentrated in the form of calcium phosphate salts. Body tissues, blood, and other body fluids contain the remaining calcium (1%).
Function: Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the growth, maintenance, and reproduction of the human body. The bones in the human body incorporate calcium into their structure. Bones, like other tissues in the body, are continually being reabsorbed and re-formed. Teeth are also calcified tissues. They incorporate calcium in their structure in a manner similar to bones. Calcium is essential for the formation of and maintenance of healthy teeth. Calcium has other functions in addition to maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Blood coagulation, transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and relaxation, normal heart beat, stimulation of hormone secretion, activation of enzyme reactions, as well as other functions, all require small amounts of calcium.
Deficiency: Low intakes of calcium for prolonged periods of time can lead to calcium deficiency. This condition leads to osteoporsis, loss of the jaw bone (and secondary oral health problems), hypertension, and other disorders.
Definition: An essential trace mineral that is present in all of the body tissues.
Function: Copper, along with iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy.
Deficiency: Dietary deficiency of copper is not very common in humans.
Definition: Iron is an important trace mineral that is found in every cell of the body, usually combined with protein.
Function: The mineral iron is an essential nutrient for humans because it is part of blood cells, which carry oxygen to all body cells. About 30% of the iron in our bodies is in storage to be readily available to replace lost iron. Iron is essential to the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which carry the oxygen in the blood and the muscle. It also makes up part of many proteins and enzymes in the body.
Deficiency: Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. Although full-blown anemia is rarely evident, partial deficiency is widespread. Initial symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are fatigue and lack of energy. Dizziness, weight loss, and lowered immunity can also occur. Other symptoms of decreased iron stores include shortness of breath, irritability, and/or lethargy.
Definition: Potassium is a mineral that is involved in both electrical and cellular function in the body. (In the body it is classified as an electrolyte).
Function: Potassium is a very important mineral to the human body. It assists in the regulation of the acid-base and water balance in the blood and the body tissues. It assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism. It is necessary for the building of muscle and for normal body growth.
Deficiency: A deficiency of potassium can occur in people with chronic disease or as a result of the aging process. The most common symptom of potassium depletion is fatigue. Other common problems associates with reduced potassium levels are hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrthymias, and depression. Other symptoms include slow reflexes, muscle weakness, and dry skin. A variety of conditions can cause the loss of potassium from the body. The most common of these conditions are vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Definition: Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition.
Function: Magnesium in the body serves several important metabolic functions. It plays a role in the production and transport of energy. It is also important for the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Magnesium is involved in the synthesis of protein, and it assists in the functioning of certain enzymes in the body. Toxic symptoms from increased magnesium intake are not common because the body eliminates excess amounts. Magnesium excess almost always occurs only when magnesium is supplemented as a medication.
Deficiency: Deficiency symptoms have three categories:
Early symptoms include irritability, anorexia, fatigue, insomnia, and muscle twitching. Other symptoms include poor memory, apathy, confusion, and reduced ability to learn.
Moderate deficiency symptoms consist of rapid heartbeat and other cardiovascular changes.
Severe deficiency of magnesium could lead to tingling, numbness, sustained contraction of the muscles, and hallucinations and delirium.
Definition: Manganese is required by the body for normal growth and health.
Function: Manganese helps your body break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It does so as part of several enzymes.
Deficiency: Manganese deficiency has not been reported in humans.
Function: The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays an important role in the body’s utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is also crucial for the production of ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy. Phosphorus works with the B vitamins. It also assists in the contraction of muscles, in the functioning of kidneys, in maintaining the regularity of the heartbeat, and in nerve conduction.
Deficiency: There is generally no deficiency of phosphorus because it is so readily available in the food supply. Excessively high levels of phosphorus in the blood, although rare, can combine with calcium to form deposits in soft tissues such as muscle. High levels of phosphorus in blood only occur in people with severe kidney disease or severe dysfunction of their calcium regulation.
Definition: Zinc is an important trace mineral. This element is second only to iron in its concentration in the body.
Function: Zinc plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system in the body. It is required for the enzyme activities necessary for cell division, cell growth, and wound healing. It plays a role in the acuity of the senses of smell and taste. Zinc is also involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Low-protein diets and vegetarian diets tend to be low in zinc.
Deficiency: Symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include the following:
Decrease in wound healing
Loss of hair
Impaired sense of taste
Impaired sense of smell
Hypogonadism in males
More frequent infections
Inability or difficulty in adapting vision to the dark
Various skin lesions