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The difference between vitamins & minerals



Although they are all considered micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals differ in basic ways. Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid. Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure.


So why does this matter? It means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume. But it’s tougher to shuttle vitamins from food and other sources into your body because cooking, storage, and simple exposure to air can inactivate these more fragile compounds.


Interacting—in good ways and bad Many micro nutrients interact. Vitamin D enables your body to pluck calcium from food sources passing through your digestive tract rather than harvesting it from your bones. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron.

The interplay of micronutrients isn’t always cooperative, however. For example, vitamin C blocks your body’s ability to assimilate the essential mineral copper. And even a minor overload of the mineral manganese can worsen iron deficiency.



A closer look at water-soluble vitamins Water-soluble vitamins are packed into the watery portions of the foods you eat. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves.


Because much of your body consists of water, many of the water-soluble vitamins circulate easily in your body. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins, shunting excesses out of the body in your urine.


Water-soluble vitamins

  • B vitamins

  • Biotin (vitamin B7)

  • Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9)

  • Niacin (vitamin B3)

  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

  • Thiamin (vitamin B1)

  • Vitamin B6

  • Vitamin B12

  • Vitamin C

What they do? Although water-soluble vitamins have many tasks in the body, one of the most important is helping to free the energy found in the food you eat. Others help keep tissues healthy. Here are some examples of how different vitamins help you maintain health:


  1. Release energy. Several B vitamins are key components of certain coenzymes (molecules that aid enzymes) that help release energy from food.

  2. Produce energy. Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin engage in energy production.

  3. Build proteins and cells. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid metabolize amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and help cells multiply.

  4. Make collagen. One of many roles played by vitamin C is to help make collagen, which knits together wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms a base for teeth and bones.

Fat-soluble vitamins

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

What they do? Together this vitamin quartet helps keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system in good repair. Here are some of the other essential roles these vitamins play:

  1. Build bones. Bone formation would be impossible without vitamins A, D, and K.

  2. Protect vision. Vitamin A also helps keep cells healthy and protects your vision.

  3. Interact favorably. Without vitamin E, your body would have difficulty absorbing and storing vitamin A.

  4. Protect the body. Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant (a compound that helps protect the body against damage from unstable molecules).

A closer look at major minerals The body needs, and stores, fairly large amounts of the major minerals. These minerals are no more important to your health than the trace minerals; they’re just present in your body in greater amounts.

Major minerals travel through the body in various ways. Potassium, for example, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates freely and is excreted by the kidneys, much like a water-soluble vitamin. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a carrier for absorption and transport.

Major minerals

  • Calcium

  • Chloride

  • Magnesium

  • Phosphorus

  • Potassium

  • Sodium

  • Sulfur

What they do? One of the key tasks of major minerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body. Sodium, chloride, and potassium take the lead in doing this. Three other major minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—are important for healthy bones. Sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including some of those that make up hair, skin, and nails.


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