The vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly are called essential. Each vitamin and mineral, regardless of the amount needed, has a special role and facilitates the operation of different functions in the body. Deficiencies in any of the essential vitamins or minerals will often lead to serious health problems. One example is the disease rickets, which results from vitamin D deficiency. A vitamin may also play a preventative role, warding off the development of disease, as is the case with vitamin A and night blindness. Conversely, too much of some vitamins can lead to health issues, as well.
You Need Your Vitamins
Thirteen essential vitamins are needed by your body for growth and development. Of these 13 essentials, only two can be produced by the body. These are vitamins D and K. The other 11 have to be gleaned from your diet. Your body depends on food for vitamins A, C and E, and the B vitamins, which include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate.
There are two types of vitamins; fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K, and when you have more than your body needs in any given day, the excess can be stored in the body. All the other vitamins are water soluble, and any excess is passed from the body in urine. This means you need to have a daily supply of these vitamins. The exception is vitamin B-12, which your body can store in your liver for years.
Minerals and You
The essential minerals your body needs fall into two categories; macrominerals and trace minerals. Calcium, sulphur, sodium, potassium, phosphorous, chloride and magnesium are the macrominerals, which carry that designation because your body needs larger quantities to function optimally. Trace minerals are only needed in small amounts. The trace minerals are zinc, copper, iron, manganese, iodine, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals Source
A balanced diet will provide the daily requirements of the essential vitamins and minerals for healthy individuals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines recommend a diet that highlights fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low or fat-free dairy products. Your diet should also include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. Supplements are available that will increase your daily intake of vitamins and minerals, if necessary, but talk to your doctor before you add them to your diet.