Vitamins Explained

Micronutrients, namely vitamins and minerals, are essential for various bodily functions, but our bodies don’t produce them naturally, so we must obtain them from the foods we eat.

Vitamins are organic compounds categorized as either fat-soluble (like vitamins A, D, E, and K) or water-soluble (such as vitamin C and B-complex vitamins). Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and can accumulate in the body, while water-soluble vitamins must dissolve in water before absorption and cannot be stored, being excreted primarily through urine.

Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic elements found in soil and water, which plants absorb or animals consume. Besides well-known minerals like calcium, sodium, and potassium, there are trace minerals needed in small amounts, such as copper, iodine, and zinc.

Each vitamin plays specific roles:

  • Vitamin A supports vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell functions, and the immune system, sourced from colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as animal products like liver and whole milk.
  • Vitamin B6, found in many foods and added to others, is crucial for metabolism and brain development, along with immune function.
  • Vitamin B12 maintains nerve and blood cell health, aids DNA production, and prevents certain types of anemia, mainly sourced from animal products.
  • Vitamin C, an antioxidant, promotes skin, bone, and tissue health, aids healing, and enhances iron absorption, found abundantly in fruits and vegetables.
  • Vitamin D assists calcium absorption for bone health and has roles in nerve, muscle, and immune function, acquired through sunlight exposure, diet, or supplements.
  • Vitamin E, also an antioxidant, supports the immune system and metabolic processes, commonly found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin K contributes to bone and tissue health and blood clotting, obtained from green vegetables, dark berries, and gut bacteria.

By understanding the significance and sources of these micronutrients, we can better support our overall health and well-being.