Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure. So why does this matter? It means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume. Many micronutrients interact. Vitamin D enables your body to pluck calcium from food sources passing through your digestive tract rather than harvesting it from your bones. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron. And even a minor overload of the mineral manganese can worsen iron deficiency. Water-soluble vitamins are packed into the watery portions of the foods you eat.
They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves. Because much of your body consists of water, many of the water-soluble vitamins circulate easily in your body. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins, shunting excesses out of the body in your urine. Click on the links below for more information from the Harvard School of Public Health nutrition source website.
What the Body Needs to Stay Healthy
B vitamins. Vitamin C. Although water-soluble vitamins have many tasks in the body, one of the most important is helping to free the energy found in the food you eat. Others help keep tissues healthy.
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Here are some examples of how different vitamins help you maintain health:. Contrary to popular belief, some water-soluble vitamins can stay in the body for long periods of time.
And even folic acid and vitamin C stores can last more than a couple of days. Just be aware that there is a small risk that consuming large amounts of some of these micronutrients through supplements may be quite harmful. For example, very high doses of B6—many times the recommended amount of 1.
Rather than slipping easily into the bloodstream like most water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins gain entry to the blood via lymph channels in the intestinal wall see illustration. Many fat-soluble vitamins travel through the body only under escort by proteins that act as carriers. Fatty foods and oils are reservoirs for the four fat-soluble vitamins. Within your body, fat tissues and the liver act as the main holding pens for these vitamins and release them as needed. To some extent, you can think of these vitamins as time-release micronutrients.
Your body squirrels away the excess and doles it out gradually to meet your needs. Together this vitamin quartet helps keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system in good repair. Here are some of the other essential roles these vitamins play:. Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body for long periods, toxic levels can build up.
Human nutrition - Wikipedia
This is most likely to happen if you take supplements. The body needs, and stores, fairly large amounts of the major minerals. Major minerals travel through the body in various ways. Potassium, for example, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates freely and is excreted by the kidneys, much like a water-soluble vitamin. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a carrier for absorption and transport. One of the key tasks of major minerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body.
Sodium, chloride, and potassium take the lead in doing this. Three other major minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—are important for healthy bones. Sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including some of those that make up hair, skin, and nails. Having too much of one major mineral can result in a deficiency of another. These sorts of imbalances are usually caused by overloads from supplements, not food sources.
Here are two examples:.
A thimble could easily contain the distillation of all the trace minerals normally found in your body. Yet their contributions are just as essential as those of major minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which each account for more than a pound of your body weight.
Are You Getting What You Need?
The other trace minerals perform equally vital jobs, such as helping to block damage to body cells and forming parts of key enzymes or enhancing their activity. Trace minerals interact with one another, sometimes in ways that can trigger imbalances. Too much of one can cause or contribute to a deficiency of another. Here are some examples:. Antioxidant is a catchall term for any compound that can counteract unstable molecules such as free radicals that damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells.
Your body cells naturally produce plenty of antioxidants to put on patrol. The foods you eat—and, perhaps, some of the supplements you take—are another source of antioxidant compounds. Orange juice, cherries, red peppers, kale, and grapefruit are some examples of foods where this popular vitamin is found. Vitamin B — This is one of the most important essential vitamins. It is a co-enzyme that is important in the conversion of food to be burned as energy. It is widely available in many forms: pills, liquids, and even injections.
It can also be found in foods from animals. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can get it from yeast. Omega-3 — Omega-3 is the beneficial fatty acid found in fishes and fish oil. Foods containing it are consumed for their reported role in cardiovascular health, brain function, and mood. Vitamin D — This vitamin is important for bone and colon health.
Your body generates it when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Foods containing it include broccoli, egg yolks, cereals, and fatty fish.
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Iron — This metal is responsible for the red color of your blood. Iron deficiency, known as anemia, has been associated with autoimmune disorders like lupus. Foods containing iron are clams, liver, beans, and spinach. Potassium — Potassium like magnesium and calcium is an electrolyte that plays a role in keeping your body well-hydrated.
Potassium is an important supporter of blood pressure. Many western diets are low in potassium. Unfortunately, potassium cannot be easily supplemented due to a rule that limits the amount that is sold in over-the-counter tablets and capsules.