All about Vitamins and Minerals and Their Functions

Food rich in Vitamins and Minerals

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are organic substances necessary for normal operation of the body. They regulate the processes of metabolism, growth, reproduction and functioning of tissues and organs. A human body cannot synthesize vitamins or is synthesizing in insufficient quantities. We all know that sunlight accelerates the creation of vitamin D, and the intestine has bacteria that produce vitamin K and biotin. But the organism is not able to synthesize vitamins A, E, C, B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid, and because of that people need to intake them with food or vitamin products. Each vitamin has a role. None of them can compensate another vitamin or some other food substance. Without essential vitamins life cannot exist.

How many vitamins we know?

Today we know thirteen vitamins that are necessary for man:

Vitamin A (retinol)

Vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinamide)

Vitamin D (calciferol)

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid or panthenol)

 Vitamin E (tocopherol)

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin K (filokinone)

  Folic acid (Vitamin B9)

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)

 Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Biotin (Vitamin B7)

 Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins

Vitamin C and the vitamins of group B are water soluble and therefore they are quickly metabolized. They penetrate in the cells and interfere with the cell fluid and the fluid present in tissues. They are also rapidly excreted through two major excretion organs: skin and kidneys. Man body can make reserves of these vitamins that are usually sufficient only for a few weeks, which mean that if we want to avoid the risk of deficiency of such vitamins, we should regularly consume them.

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and are slowly metabolized. The body is absorbing them as fat or is storing in fatty tissues. Our body is capable of storing these vitamins in small and large quantities, and when we consume insufficient amounts, with the help of these reserves, the body can meet the needs of these vitamins to some extent.

What are pro-vitamins?

Pro-vitamins are substances that in the body are converted into vitamins. These are amino tripofan which turns into niacin and beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A. Beta-carotene belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids, which give the characteristic yellow and orange color to vegetables and fruits. Besides the ability to converts to vitamin A in the body, beta-carotene has a major role as an antioxidant – substance that protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.

What are antioxidants?

Oxygen is necessary for the operation of the cells, for the metabolism and for creating energy. But unfortunately in the most reactive forms, oxygen is harmful by causing aging. Due to its reactivity is producing free radicals, which damage cells and weaken the immune system.

Antioxidants protect cells from the effects of free radicals, by bonding to the most reactive forms of oxygen and thus prevent the formation of free radicals. The antioxidants include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and the mineral selenium. Our body cannot adequately protect against free radicals, but we can help with proper diet and vitamin products, which will provide sufficient antioxidants as support.

What is avitaminosis?

Avitaminosis is a disease that occurs as a consequence of the long-term lack of particular vitamin. Severe deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy while beriberi is caused by lack of vitamin B1, too little vitamin D leads to rickets, while deficiency of the vitamin B12 manifests a clear picture of anemia (pernicious anemia).

What is hypovitaminosis?

Hypovitaminosis is a condition when the body has too little vitamins. This means that the body has so many vitamins just do not cause serious diseases, but too little for health. Reasons for the shortage can be primary: unavailable and irregular diet and incomplete utilization of vitamins. Among other things, the cause of hypovitaminosis may be an increased need for vitamins in the body (e.g., the physical effort, pregnancy, and lactation, a period of growth, infectious diseases, etc.) or increased consumption of vitamins (e.g., sweating, diarrhea, etc.).

What is hypervitaminosis?

Hypervitaminosis means an excessive amount of vitamins in the body. It should be noted that the abundance of water soluble vitamins (except vitamin B6) is not a risk for hypervitaminosis. These vitamins easily dissolve in water and quickly metabolized, but it retained a short time in the body. Notably differ are the consequences of excessive intake of those vitamins that dissolve in fat, especially vitamins A and D.

About minerals

minerals in our bodyMinerals are substances with the non-organic origin and mostly can be found in the form of salts, such in vitamin-mineral products (e.g., magnesium sulfate, iron fumarate, copper sulfate, etc.).

Taking into consideration the required amount of minerals in the body, minerals are divided into macroelements and microelements (oligo elements). The macro group elements include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, and magnesium while the group microelements include iron, iodine, copper, manganese, fluoride, zinc, chromium, selenium, molybdenum, cobalt and vanadium.

Which minerals are crucial for maintaining the regulation of body work?

For the maintenance of the regulation of body work is needed about eighteen yet known minerals in the human diet, but experts determine the recommended amount only for seven of them:








While remaining active minerals in the body are copper, zinc, fluorine, phosphorus, iodine, calcium, potassium, chlorine, cobalt, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, sodium, selenium, vanadium, iron and sulfur. For optimal growth and functioning of the membranes in the body need very small amounts of arsenic, boron, nickel and silicon.

Who needs more vitamins and minerals?

People with vascular diseases

Research shows that when taken sufficient amounts of antioxidant vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and folic acid, proportionally is reduced the risk of vascular disease.

People who take medications

For the metabolism of certain drugs, it’s necessary participation of vitamins. Interaction of drugs with some vitamins and minerals can reduce the effectiveness of a drug, on the other hand, the long-term taking of broad spectrum antibiotics reduces the amount of vitamin K.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, significantly are increased needs of folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin E, pyridoxine, thiamine, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Most severe consequences in the pregnancy is a lack of folic acid because it can cause damage to the spinal cord in the fetus.


Smokers compared with nonsmokers, have significantly lower plasma concentrations of vitamin C and folates.

Alcoholic Beverages

Consuming alcohol causes a deficiency of B vitamins, primarily niacin, thiamin, and cobalamin. Also is decreased the concentration of vitamin E – the most important antioxidant in some tissues. When we drink alcoholic beverages, because of increased amount of ethanol, comes to oxidative stress and increased production of free radicals.

Increased physical activity

Lack of certain vitamins and minerals can be a consequence of increased physical activity. For some athlete as well as for people with recreational activities, which consume less than 2000 calories per day, can perform primarily a lack of calcium and iron, as well as some of the water-soluble vitamins.


In vegetarians that are consistent, there is a relatively high opportunity for a lack of vitamin D and vitamin B12. In those vegetarians who in the diet have included dairy products and eggs, this possibility is excluded.

Children and youth in the period of growth

The period of intense children growth creates the need for more vitamins and minerals. Often in this group appears hypovitaminosis as a result of improper diet or loss of appetite.


With the age among both women and men, needs of vitamins are increased, especially vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene. Particular for older women often performs lack of minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

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