Vitamins and minerals perform an extraordinary range of functions in the human body to assist in the maintenance of our health. Vitamins not only help convert food into useable energy, but they also assist in the manufacture of blood cells, hormones, and the chemicals of the nervous system. They are divided into two categories, which are water-soluble and fatsoluble. The four fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, are absorbed into body fat and may be stored for later use. Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins are all water-soluble meaning that they dissolve in body fluid, and most of the excess is eliminated through sweat or urine.
Minerals play a part in the maintenance of immune cells, in blood coagulation, in the synthesis of oxygen in the blood, in bone formation, and in numerous other functions. Each vitamin and mineral has a specific function or meets specific body needs. The table below lists some of the important vitamins and minerals and describes their function and sources.
|Minerals||Health Benefits||Mineral Source|
|Calcium||Important for strong bones and teeth.|
Helps in blood clotting, regulating blood
pressure and enzyme production.
|Dairy, Tofu, Fortified Soy Milk, Sardines
consumed with Bones
|Iron||Important component of hemoglobin,|
enabling red blood cells to carry oxygen
throughout the body.
|Fortified Cereals, Spinach and other Green
Leafy Vegetables, Red Meat, Dried Fruits
|Magnesium||Works with sodium and phosphorus to|
enable healthy muscle and nerve
function. Regulates calcium levels in the
body, and helps it to maintain the bone
|Yogurt, Eggs, Artichoke, Okra, Dates, Rolled
Oats, Wheat Germ, Nuts, Seeds, Wheat Bran
|Potassium||In combination with sodium, regulates|
the fluid levels in the body, blood
pressure, heartbeat and nerve impulses.
|Spinach, Potato, Sweet Potato, Mango,
Grapes, Banana, Litchi, Watermelon, Dates,
Grapefruit, Bamboo Shoots, French Beans,
Pumpkin, Beef, Milk, Pork, Salmon, Chicken,
|Sodium||Along with Potassium, regulates fluid|
and alkali levels in the body. Also
enables healthy nerve and muscle
|Table Salt, Seafood, Cheese, Eggs, Beetroot,
Artichokes, Beef, Yogurt, Soy Milk
|Phosphorus||Helps in teeth and bone building and|
maintenance. Also enables healthy
muscle and nerve function, and allows
for energy release.
|Dairy, Fish, Meat, Nuts, Seeds, Wheat Bran|
|Zinc||Strengthens immunity and the healing|
process. Useful for healthy skin, nails,
eyes, growth and sexual development,
DNA and protein synthesis, and enzyme
|Avocado, Dates, Pomegranate, Raspberries,
Asparagus, Corn, Peas, Potatoes, Okra, Lima
Beans, Cashews, Oats, Rye, Wheat, Beef,
Lamb, Turkey, Pork
|Copper||Essential for healthy function of red|
blood cells and brain. Allows connective
|Seafood, Sesame Seeds, Liver, Nuts|
|Iodine||Important for thyroid hormone|
regulation. Promotes growth and protein
|Seafood, Iodized Salt|
|Vitamins||Health Benefits||Vitamin Source|
|Vitamin A||Useful for healthy eyes. Also benefits hair and|
skin. Strengthens the immune system. Helps in
maintaining mucous membranes.
|Carrots, Pumpkin, Spinach,
Chillies, Sweet Potato, Mangoes,
|Helps the body make optimum use of|
carbohydrates. Aids proper heart function, the
nervous system, and enables good coordination
|Whole Grain Products, Sunflower
Seeds, Oatmeal, Pine Nuts, Other
Nuts, Lean Pork and other Meat
forms, Wheat Germ
|Regulates metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and|
proteins. Also beneficial for eyes, and healthy
growth of hair, nails and skin.
|Fortified Breakfast Cereals, Eggs,
|Regulates metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and|
proteins. Aids normal brain function and
maintains healthy nervous system.
|Beef, Chicken, Tuna, Liver,
Peanut Butter, Barley, Rice Bran,
Wheat Bran, Rice
|Regulates metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and|
proteins, and makes fatty acids and cholesterol.
|Egg Yolk, Legumes, Brewer's
Yeast, Whole Grains, Organ
|Regulates the metabolism of amino acids and|
carbohydrates. Aids healthy nervous system
function, and in the production of red blood
|Bananas, Brewer's Yeast, Wheat
Bran, Mackerel, Walnuts, Brown
Rice, Sunflower Seeds, Liver,
Salmon, Tuna, Meat
|Essential for DNA synthesis. Aids healthy|
nervous system function, and helps in production
of red blood cells.
|Mussels, Oyster, Oily Fish, Crab,
Beef, Liver, Offal, Egg
|Folate||Combined with vitamin B12, it protects and|
develops the nervous system, and helps in the
production of RNA and DNA. It produces red
blood cells for babies in the uterus.
|Lentils, Chickpeas, Kidney
Beans, Green Leafy Vegetables,
Nuts, Oat Bran, Liver, Brewer's
|Vitamin C||Helps in collagen production. Also important for|
healthy gums, bones, cartilage and blood vessels.
Strengthens immune system, aids in tissue
repair, and in absorbing iron for the body.
|Citrus Fruits, Guava, Papaya,
Kiwi, Green Leafy Vegetables,
Broccoli, Capsicum, Red Chillies
|Vitamin D||Essential to absorb calcium and phosphorus to|
promote healthy bones and teeth.
|Dairy, Herrings, Tuna, Fish Oils,
Egg Yolk, Sunflower Seeds,
|Vitamin E||Contains antioxidant properties. Helps in healing|
of the skin and prevents scarring. It keeps the red
blood cells healthy, and protects cell membranes.
|Safflower Oil, Peanut Oil, Peanut
Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil,
Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Olive
|Vitamin K||Enables blood clotting in case of excessive|
|Wheat Bran, Milk, Liver, Green