An introduction to essential nutrients

Our diet needs to include vitamins and minerals in order for our bodies to work properly and to prevent illness. Vitamins and minerals work in conjunctions with each other, and taking large doses of any one supplement can upset your body’s balance. A good multivitamin and multimineral supplement will ensure you get the correct amount of each nutrient in the right proportions. 

Vitamins

These are divided into two groups according to whether they are soluble in fat or in water. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K, and they can be stored in your body for months or even years. Water-soluble vitamins are the vitamin B complex and vitamin C. Because they dissolve in water they are easily lost from the body in urine, so you need regular intake. B-complex vitamins also work synergistically, which means they are more potent when taken together than when taken separately. A deficiency of any vitamin will result in specific vitamin deficiency diseases, such as scurvy or pellagra. 

Minerals

These are divided into two main groups: major or macro-minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorous, so-called because we need relatively large amounts; and trace minerals, such as copper, chromium and zinc, which are needed in minute quantities. Like vitamins, a deficiency of any mineral may cause illness, but they may also be harmful if taken in large amounts. 

Other essential nutrients There are a number of other food supplements that are now considered to be crucial to good health. This section covers essential fatty acids, amino acids and co-enzyme Q10. Amino acids form the building blocks of all proteins and are essential for life. While many fats are known to be unhealthy, there are others that are essential for body processes to take place and that work to prevent the effects of ‘bad’ fats in your body, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and the build-up of cholesterol. Co-enzyme Q10 is a substance that helps enzymes, proteins that speed chemical processes. 
Other supplements There are a number of other food supplements of non-essential nutrients, many of which have properties that appear to be greatly beneficial to health. 

Vitamin K

While vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, we do not enter it into any ebook/publication/youtube video or the like, this is because it should only be supplemented under medical supervision. Vitamin K is manufactured in the gut and is widely available in food, and deficiency is very uncommon (all newborn babies are given a dose of vitamin K to improve blood clotting). Large doses of vitamin K can cause liver damage, jaundice and the breakdown of red blood cells. 

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