All About Vitamins & Minerals

We all know that vitamins and minerals are important, but why?

Here’s what you need to know about what’s in your food… or your Flintstones chewables.

What are vitamins & minerals?

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential in very small amounts for supporting normal physiologic function.

We need vitamins in our diets, because our bodies can’t synthesize them quickly enough to meet our daily needs.

Vitamins have three characteristics:

  • They’re natural components of foods; usually present in very small amounts.
  • They’re essential for normal physiologic function (e.g., growth, reproduction, etc).
  • When absent from the diet, they will cause a specific deficiency.

Vitamins are generally categorized as either fat soluble or water soluble depending on whether they dissolve best in either lipids or water.

Vitamins and their derivatives often serve a variety of roles in the body – one of the most important being their roles as cofactors for enzymes – called coenzymes. (See figure below for an example.)

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Most minerals are considered essential and comprise a vast set of micronutrients. There are both macrominerals (required in amounts of 100 mg/day or more) and microminerals (required in amounts less than 15 mg/day).

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