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. If you choose to take vitamin and mineral supplements, be aware that taking too many or taking them for too long can cause harmful effects.
Some people may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements. For information on who could benefit from supplements, ask your pharmacist. What are vitamins?
There are two types of vitamins:
There are also many other types of vitamins that are an important part of a healthy diet.What are minerals? Minerals are necessary for three main reasons:
Fat-soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods such as animal fats, including butter and lard, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish. While your body needs these vitamins every day to work properly, you do not need to eat foods containing them every day. This is because your body stores these vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for future use. These stores can build up so they are there when you need them. However, if you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.Fat-soluble vitamins are:
- vitamin A
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
- vitamin K
Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so you need to have them more frequently.
If you have more than you need, your body gets rid of the extra vitamins when you urinate. As the body does not store water-soluble vitamins, these vitamins are generally not harmful. However, this does not mean that all large amounts are necessarily harmless.
Water-soluble vitamins are found in fruit, vegetables and grains. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they can be destroyed by heat or by being exposed to the air. They can also be lost in water used for cooking. This means that by cooking foods, especially boiling them, we lose many of these vitamins. The best way to keep as many of the water-soluble vitamins as possible is to steam or grill foods, rather than boil them.Water-soluble vitamins are:
- vitamin C
- the B vitamins
- Folic acid.
- building strong bones and teeth
- controlling body fluids inside and outside cells
- turning the food you eat into energy
Minerals are found in foods such as meat, cereals (including cereal products such as bread), fish, milk and dairy foods, vegetables, fruit (especially dried fruit) and nuts.
Essential minerals include calcium and iron, although there are also many other types of minerals that are an important part of a healthy diet.