Micronutrients Your Body Needs: Vitamins and Minerals

Discover the different vitamins and minerals you need and how they are essential for your body and overall health.

Person holds a tray with vegetables full of vitamins and minerals
Vegetable tray

Every day, our bodies work like machines, making sure that we undergo essential processes to keep us functioning properly. And just like a well-oiled machine, our bodies need the fuel necessary to maintain these processes. More and more studies are being conducted on the essential functions that micronutrients, referred to as vitamins and minerals, have on these processes in the body. What are the vitamins and minerals our body needs and why are they so important? 

The importance of vitamins and minerals: an introduction

Vitamins and minerals provide micronutrients which are important to overall health, development, wellbeing and disease prevention; Micronutrients, although only needed in minimal amounts, are essential because the body does not produce them on their own and we must get them through our diet (1). However if these small amounts are not part of your daily intake, they can possibly lead to micronutrient deficiencies and can have consequences on your health. The role of these essential nutrients are outlined below.

The ABCs of vitamins

Each vitamin plays an individual role that our bodies need to develop and function normally. The known vitamins include:

  • Thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and biotin (vitamin B7) all help turn the food we eat into the energy we need (3). These vitamins are found naturally in foods such as beans and vegetables.
  • Vitamin B6 is necessary for metabolism as well as brain development and immune function (4). Vitamin B6 is naturally occurring in poultry (chicken or turkey), fish, potatoes and non-citrus fruits like apples, pears, melons and berries.
  • Vitamin B12 helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells (5). Vitamin B12 requires an enzyme called intrinsic factor to absorb it. Without this, vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed. Vitamin B12 is naturally occurring in fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
  • Folate is necessary to create DNA and also helps cells to divide (6). Folate is especially important for pregnant women. Folate is found naturally in vegetables such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, and spinach, fruits and fruit juices, nuts and beans.

Minerals and the body

A number of minerals are essential for health including but not limited to: sodium, potassium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Each mineral also plays an important role in the body. Some notable minerals are:

To supplement or not?

It is important to get the recommended daily intake of these vitamins to maintain proper health. It is recommended that people try to meet their daily requirements through an overall balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods.(14). However, sometimes people may not be able to get the proper amount through natural food sources due to other environmental or health factors. Because these vitamins and minerals are vital to health and deficiencies can lead to other health problems, supplementation may be suggested.

It is important to adopt a healthy eating pattern, as a well-balanced diet will give you all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need to support a healthy body. As research continues to be conducted on the roles of vitamins and minerals in the body, we learn more about their essential functions. Nutrition apps such as Lifesum can help you track your eating habits, and can ensure you are receiving the right amount of energy, macronutrients, potassium and sodium based on your individual needs. How will you ensure you are getting the right amount of micronutrients in your diet?

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All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.

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