More Information on Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals help to boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs to function properly.

Some minerals are needed in larger doses than others such as calcium which helps bones and teeth to grow, develop and maintain their health. Other minerals such as copper, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc are needed in smaller quantities. But they are still needed by the body daily to perform its functions.

Vitamins are essential substances that cannot be manufactured by the body. We need small amounts of vitamins for growth and development. The key is to have a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables that provide the range of minerals and vitamins we need.

Recommended Daily Allowances

The different stages of our lives demand different amounts of nutrients needed. For example, a pregnant woman has many more nutritional needs than most and a woman passing through menopause will require different amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Age is a significant factor in determining the recommended daily allowances for different food types and it is good to research what you need for your age and your condition.

2 Types of Vitamins

There are 2 types of vitamins: water soluble & fat-soluble ones. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, these are digested from the food we eat and then what we don't need passes out of the body through the urine or sweat. 

Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fatty tissues of the body and are released as needed into the body.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water soluble vitamins need to dissolve in water before the body can utilise them and fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and body fat and are then released for use as needed.

Vitamin C and the B Complex Vitamins need to dissolve in water before your body can absorb them and any part of them that the body does not use, then gets passed out of the body. It is good to get a fresh supply of the water-soluble vitamins daily.

Water-soluble vitamins include the B Vitamins including Folic Acid and Vitamin C.

Food sources of water-soluble Vitamins:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Water-soluble vitamins are transported around the body in water. This means your body can't store them because you pass the excess through urine. You need to eat foods containing these vitamins every day. Water-soluble vitamins can be destroyed by cooking, so steam and grill rather than boil.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat soluble vitamins are transported around the body in fact and your body stores any excess in the liver and fatty tissues. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body from a few days up to 6 months. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.

Sources of Fat Soluble Vitamins

  • Meat
  • Meat products
  • Animal fat
  • Vegetable oils
  • Dairy products
  • Fish

How easy is it to get all the vitamins we need from our diet?

We all need vitamins to live a long and healthy life, and a varied diet is essential if we are to obtain the nutrients we need.

Plenty of foods naturally contain vitamins, and some popular foods such as breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals.

That said, it is not always easy: fruit and vegetables age (an apple in a bowl loses vitamins hour by hour), and modern processing techniques have considerably reduced the vitamin and mineral content of many foods.

Try to eat a wide variety of fresh foods. Frozen vegetables are also a good option: they can often contain more vitamins than vegetables stored for a long time at room temperature.

Minerals

The 10 most important minerals are:

    * calcium
    * iodine
    * iron
    * magnesium
    * phosphorus
    * copper
    * manganese
    * chromium
    * selenium
    * zinc.

There is a specific recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most minerals and vitamins.

2 types of Minerals

The two kinds of minerals are: macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro means "large" in Greek (and your body needs larger amounts of macro minerals than trace minerals). The macro mineral group is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur.

Tips for Preserving Vitamins & Minerals in fresh produces

Many foods contain vitamins naturally and some popular foods such as breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Water-soluble vitamins can be washed out or destroyed during food storage or preparation. Proper storage and preparation of food can minimize vitamin loss.

  • Taking extra care in fresh food storage helps to preserve the vitamin content of the food.
  • Refrigerating fresh produce.
  • Keeping milk and grains away from strong light.
  • Peeling vegetables and fruit thinly.
  • Steam-cooking until tender, not boiling for a long time in water.
  • Cutting the vegetable or fruit into large pieces and using a minimum amount of water when cooking.
  • It is also recommended to cook the veggies with the lid on where possible.