Which Vitamins and Minerals Does Your Body Need?

Micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, are vital for our health. They are essential for the functioning of our organism; they improve our well-being and prevent many diseases. Their daily requirements are determined by numerous factors, and among them is also our genetic makeup. It determines which vitamins and minerals we have to consume in an increased amount, or vice versa, and which of them we have in sufficient amounts and we simply have to maintain their levels. We can get almost all of the vitamins and minerals with regular food. However, this can be slightly more difficult in case we are prone to the lack of them. In such cases, food supplements are a good option.

In this chapter, we will reveal to you what levels of vitamin B complex, vitamin D and minerals, such as iron and potassium, are determined by your genes. In addition, you will learn how sensitive you are to kitchen salt or sodium, and what bone density is determined by your genes. The latter can be specifically adjusted with an appropriate intake of vitamins and minerals.

1. Vitamin B6
2. Vitamin B9
3. Vitamin B12
4. Vitamin D

MORE ON VITAMINS

Vitamins, together with minerals, belong to a group of micronutrients. Despite the fact that we need them in very small amounts, they are absolutely vital for the functioning of our body. Our body cannot synthesize most vitamins. An exception is some vitamins of the B-complex, which are produced by our intestinal bacteria, and transformations of inactive to active form (for example, beta carotene can be transformed into active vitamin A).

Vitamins are not a source of energy, but they are key co-factors, which help the enzymes in an array of different metabolic reactions and biochemical organisms. Most enzymes actually cannot function without the help of vitamins. Vitamins can be divided into water-soluble (B, C) and fat-soluble (A, D, E, K). Water-soluble vitamins are usually not stored in the body in large quantities and are quickly lost in the process of storing, processing and preparing foods. For a sufficient intake of water-soluble vitamins, it is recommended to eat whole wheat, unprocessed and fresh foods. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, can be found in fatty parts of animal as well as vegetable food. These vitamins accumulate in the body. Therefore, in the case of vitamins A, D, E, and K, there can be an excess intake of them.

5. Iron
6. Sodium (salt)
7. Potassium
8. Bone density

MORE ON MINERALS

Most of minerals have the role of co-factors, and they are, therefore, vital for enzyme activity and the regulation of the chemical balance. They are important for the formation of different hormones and other key molecules in the body. It is precisely the minerals that ensure the strength of teeth and bones. They are important for an appropriate heart and kidney function, as well as the transmission of nervous impulses. Considering our daily mineral requirements, we divide them into two groups.

Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, which are the main constituents of bones, and sodium and potassium, which regulate the balance of the water in the body, are all macro minerals. Daily, we require relatively high amounts of them – from 50 to 3000 mg. Elements that our body requires only in traces (from 30 mcg to 50 mg) are micro minerals: iron, zinc, manganese, copper, chrome and selenium. Despite the fact that we require so little of them, they are indispensable, as our body cannot function without them. We consume them either directly with plants or with the meat of animal that are herbivorous. The sources of minerals are actually plants that have the ability to incorporate them from the soil.

Nowadays, the lack of minerals is common for many reasons. Firstly, the amount of minerals in crops is decreasing because of soil impoverishment, which is the result of intensive farming techniques. Intensively grown plants grow quickly, have higher water content and incorporate fewer minerals than non-intensively grown plant. Secondly, there is less minerals in food because of the processing and preparing of food. 

Refined cereals and sugars, compared to whole-wheat cereals, contain only a few percent of minerals. And, last but not least, we are exposed to more harmful substances and nutritionally poor food that deplete our body and, as a consequence, our requirements of minerals are often increased.