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What are Vitamins and Minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are the nutrients that your body needs to function at its best each day. In fact, vitamins and minerals perform more than 100 vital roles in the body to support daily processes, like wound healing, immunity, digestion, and cellular repair.
Although vitamins and minerals may sound similar, they do have a distinct difference. Both vitamins and minerals are categorized as micronutrients, yet:
Vitamins are organic compounds that are broken down by air, acid, or heat.
Minerals are inorganic compounds that maintain their chemical structure.
In essence, vitamins are more fragile than minerals. Minerals are readily available in both water and soil and can be consumed through the diet. Vitamins are more vulnerable to outside corruption through cooking, storage, and oxidation, making supplementation a necessity for many people.
While it’s always recommended to receive main sources of vitamins and minerals through a balanced diet, the Better Health Channel confirms that a number of people can greatly benefit from a vitamin or mineral supplement.1 These people include pregnant/breast-feeding women, smokers, dieters, the elderly, some vegetarians, and individuals with food allergies or conditions like celiac disease.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be used to improve exercise performance by speeding recovery, boosting immunity, and correcting mineral deficiencies caused by strenuous activity.2 For this reason, an avid exerciser may have higher vitamin and mineral requirements than a person with a sedentary lifestyle.
Vitamins are divided into two distinct categories:
Just like they sound, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K will dissolve easily in fat for storage in the body. Water soluble B complex and C vitamins must first be dissolved in water before they can be absorbed by the body. As a result, the body isn’t able to store an excess of water-soluble vitamins; any unused vitamins will be excreted through waste.
For this reason, it’s important to eat a well-rounded diet rich in vitamins and minerals. The team at Genesis Nutrition Australia also recommends taking a vitamin or mineral supplement to ensure that recommended daily intake levels are met each day.
According to the Australian Government, the recommended dietary intake for vitamins and minerals is designed to meet the nutritional requirements of up to 98% of all healthy individuals.3 RDI will vary based on gender, age, and lifestyle factors to determine how much of each vitamin and mineral should be ingested per day.
For example, men from ages 19 to 64 need 800 mg of calcium a day; women from ages 19 to 54 need 800 mg of calcium a day, while women over the age of 54 need 1000 mg of calcium a day. Additionally, women who are pregnant should increase their calcium intake by 300 mg per day.
How will supplementation benefit me?
Given the fact that there are dozens of vitamins and minerals to choose from, the benefits provided are extensive, to say the least. When you take a Genesis Nutrition vitamin and mineral supplement, you may experience many or all of the health benefits listed below:
- Treat nutritional deficiencies. Although it’s recommended to eat a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins, a vitamin or mineral deficiency can be easily corrected by taking the proper supplement.
- Regulate mood. Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement can improve mood and focus; a supplement containing vitamin C, calcium, zinc, and magnesium can also help to decrease mental fatigue and stress.
- Support bone health. Over the long term, it becomes all the more important to increase calcium in the diet to prevent osteoporosis with age, especially in women. A supplement can be taken along with a calcium-rich diet to meet the daily RDI and preserve bone integrity.
- Improve post-workout recovery. Make no mistake, vitamins and minerals are critical to support the repair and recovery of tissue after an intense workout. Vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium can provide anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as antioxidant protection, to improve post-workout recovery time.
What are the common types?
Vitamin and mineral supplements on the market may come as single vitamin or mineral supplements. A vitamin and mineral supplement may also be made up of a combination of the vitamins and minerals listed below:
- Vitamin A: Supports good vision and healthy teeth, skin, and soft tissue.
- Vitamin B1: Effectively supplies energy to healthy tissue; helps to break down nutrients and energy in protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
- Vitamin B2: Promotes cardiovascular health and produces red blood cells.
- Vitamin B12: Supports normal blood and nerve function.
- Calcium: Supports teeth and bone health, as well as muscle, nerve, and heart function.
- Choline: Regulates inflammatory and allergic responses in the body; supports liver and kidney health.
- Vitamin C: Forms collagen, maintains bone health, and fights off infection.
- Vitamin D: Aids in calcium and phosphorus absorption; supports healthy immune function.
- Vitamin E: Protects circulatory, heart, skin, and nervous system health.
- Fluoride: Essential for healthy bones and teeth.
- Vitamin K: Essential for blood clotting.
- Iron: Necessary to supply oxygen to tissue throughout the body.
- Magnesium: Regulates potassium levels and calcium use; supports daily energy production. Also helps to reduce painful muscle cramps, strains and spasms.
- Phosphorus: Helps form RNA and DNA; stabilizes blood ph.
- Potassium: Regulates nerve impulses, blood pressure, and muscle contraction.
- Selenium: A protective antioxidant; supports thyroid metabolism.
- Sodium: Regulates water balance and nerve impulses in the body.
- Zinc: Promotes regular growth, immune function, and skin integrity.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation: Timing and Dosage
Depending upon the supplement, a vitamin or mineral supplement may come in capsule form to be taken up to three times a day. A manufacturer may recommend that a user takes a vitamin or mineral supplement a half hour before a meal for optimum absorption.
However, most vitamin and mineral supplements are taken just once a day as a tablet with a meal. A single dosage is often all that is needed to supplement the diet and meet RDI requirements.
As with any supplement, it is critically important to follow manufacturer’s directions carefully and consult with the RDI that meets your specific need. As an exerciser, you may need to increase your daily dosage of a certain vitamin or mineral to aid in recovery and prevent a deficiency caused by strenuous activity.
1. Vitamin and mineral supplements | Better Health Channel." Home | Better Health Channel. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. 2. "Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Exercisers." Disabled World News and Disability Information. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. 3. "NUTRIENT REFERENCE VALUES FOR AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND." www.nhmrc.gov.au. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.
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