Our body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly – they affect the development and efficiency of our body. They must be supplied in appropriate amounts and proportions with food, because the human body (with some exceptions) cannot produce them.
Traditionally, vitamins are divided into fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins have the ability to accumulate in tissues, while water-soluble vitamins do not accumulate in the body, and their excess is excreted in the urine.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause many diseases. In the past, severe vitamin C deficiency caused scurvy and immunodeficiency, vitamin D deficiency – disorders of the osteoarticular system and rickets in children, the lack of iodine, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, can lead to cretinism in children, and the lack of vitamin B1 can cause the disease beriberi, i.e. significant weakness and damage to the nervous system. Fortunately, these serious conditions are rarely found in the developed world today. Unfortunately, they can be found in poor countries, which lack food and adequate health care.
There is a huge variety of symptoms associated with a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and it is sometimes difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. The most common are:
- easier fatigue,
- muscle and joint pain,
- decrease in immunity – more frequent infections.
It is worth remembering that a deficiency of magnesium and potassium manifests itself in cramps and muscle pains, especially often after uncontrolled physical exertion and lack of adequate hydration. Lack of foods containing iron and folic acid (vitamin B9) in the diet can lead to severe anemia and even a heart attack. The lack of vitamins and minerals belonging to the antioxidant group may not only lower immunity, but also significantly accelerate the processes of atherosclerotic plaque formation in the vessels – and thus increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
It is also worth knowing that alcohol, nicotine, drugs, and legal highs significantly impair the absorption and metabolism of vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, physical activity and the elimination of toxins promote health and proper development at every stage of life.
A proper and varied diet provides adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, and at the same time does not threaten to overdose them. Combined with daily physical activity, it is the key to health and well-being (Figure 1 shows the healthy eating pyramid). However, if you consume vitamin-enriched foods and vitamin supplements at the same time, you may consume them excessively, which may be detrimental to your health. Therefore, dietary supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet.
- All you need to do to provide your body with the necessary amounts of vitamins and minerals is to eat healthy.
- We do not recommend supplementing vitamins and minerals without consulting a doctor, reach for them only when the doctor determines it necessary.
- Remember that the body absorbs vitamins contained in food much more easily than synthetic vitamins contained in tablets.
- Our diet should therefore include unprocessed products – natural, primarily: vegetables, fruits, fish, oils. We should not completely rule out meat, which is also rich in essential vitamins.
Both deficiency and excess of vitamins and minerals can be harmful.
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