Vitamins and minerals, commonly called micronutrients to signify their necessity in minute quantities, are described by the World Health Organization as "magic wands" for maintaining health. Micronutrients are crucial for metabolism, a process by which your body produces energy from the foods and drinks you consume. Your body needs 27 micronutrients. Deficiencies are linked to obesity as well as many diseases, including infections and cancer, according to a 2010 study published in the "Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition."
List of Vitamins and Minerals
MedlinePlus of the National Institutes of Health advises that you need 13 essential vitamins including A, D, E, K, C, along with B-complex vitamins. B-complex vitamins include B1, or thiamine; B2, or riboflavin; B3, or niacin; B5, or pantothenic acid; B6; B12; biotin; and folic acid, or folate. Calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, selenium, iron, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc are the important minerals that your body needs for optimum health.
Functions of Vitamins
Vitamin A is essential for vision, immunity, growth and development. It is also called an anti-infective vitamin since it protects your body from infective agents. Vitamin D balances calcium levels in the body, prevents cancers by controlling cell division, enhances immunity and regulates blood pressure. Vitamin K helps in blood clotting, maintaining bone health and encouraging cell growth, according to the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University. Vitamin C promotes wound healing and is also important for healthy gums and teeth. Vitamins B6 and B12 are required for red blood cell formation and nerve function.
Functions of Minerals
In addition to calcium's major role as a structural element in bones and teeth (along with phosphorus), the mineral also helps in the regulation of blood pressure and normal function of the nerves. Chromium plays a vital role in glucose metabolism through its effect on insulin. Fluoride gives strength to tooth enamel and bones. Iodine is required for normal thyroid function. Iron is essential for oxygen transport in your blood. Magnesium is necessary for normal cell function and DNA synthesis. Sodium, potassium and chloride are important electrolytes, or electrically charged ions, essential for the fluid balance and function of every cell in your body. Zinc serves as part of proteins and is essential in maintaining cell structure and function, immunity, and reproduction.
Micronutrients in Enzymes
B-complex vitamins function as co-enzymes that assist enzymes, substances that speed up the chemical reactions important in the metabolism in your body. Folate in enzymes is needed for making certain amino acids and DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, the genetic material in cells. Minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc are also important components of different enzymes required in chemical processes throughout your body. For example, copper containing enzymes are essential for your brain.
Micronutrients as Antioxidants
According to MedlinePlus, vitamins A, C, and E act as antioxidants, substances that prevent cell damage by acting against harmful elements called free radicals, or oxidants that are formed in your body as a result of normal metabolism or exposure to environmental pollutants. Vitamin E plays a special role as an antioxidant by protecting the low density lipoproteins, or LDL, from free radical damage. As explained by Linus Pauling Institute, minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium also assist your body as antioxidants.
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