Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly. Most people should get all the nutrients they need by eating a varied and balanced diet, your personal trainer can advise with healthy, balanced diet. Each of the vitamins has an important job in the body, a vitamin deficiency occurs when you do not get enough of a certain vitamin and this deficiency can cause health problems.
There are two types of vitamins, the first being fat soluble –
- Vitamin A which helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin
- Vitamin D which is also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” since it is made by the body after being in the sun and 10-15 minutes of sunshine three times a week is enough to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D for most people. Those who do not live in sunny places may not make enough vitamin D and it is hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium which is required for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus
- Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, which means it helps wounds to heal properly and there is some evidence that vitamin K is also needed to help keep bones healthy.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant also known as tocopherol, which protects cell membranes, this helps to maintain healthy skin, eyes and strengthens the immune system. It helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K.
These fat soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods and animal products, such as vegetable oils, milk and dairy foods, eggs, liver, oily fish and butter. Although your body needs these vitamins every day to work properly, you don’t need to eat foods containing them every day. Your body stores these vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for future use. However, if you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.
The second kind are water soluble vitamins –
- Vitamin C also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy connective tissue which gives support and structure for other tissue and organs and promotes wound healing
The B vitamins
- Thiamin (vitamin B1) which works with other B-group vitamins to help break down and release energy from food. It is also essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2) which keeps skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy and helping the body release energy from the food we eat, and is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells
- Niacin (vitamin B3) helps to release energy from the foods we eat and helps to keep the nervous systems and skin healthy
- Pantothenic acid is essential for the metabolism of food (releasing the energy from the food we eat) and also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol
- Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine, helps form haemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body and maintain brain function. This vitamin also plays an important role in the proteins that are part of many chemical reactions in the body, it allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
- Biotin (vitamin B7) is essential for the metabolism of fat, very small amounts are needed. The bacteria that live naturally in your bowel are able to make biotin, so it’s not clear if you need any additional biotin from the diet
- Vitamin B12 is involved in making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy
releasing energy from the food we eat and the processing of folic acid
- Folic acid works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells and helps to reduce the risk of central nervous system defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies
You need these vitamins more frequently as the body does not store them and if you have more than you need, your body gets rid of the extra vitamins when you urinate. Water-soluble vitamins are found in a wide range of foods, including fruit, vegetables, potatoes, grains, milk and dairy foods. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they can be destroyed by heat or being exposed to the air and can also be lost in water used for cooking. The best way to keep as many of the water-soluble vitamins as possible is to steam or grill foods, rather than boil them, or to use the cooking water in soups or stews rather than pouring it away.