Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients for proper function, growth, and body maintenance. If we do not get enough, our health declines but can be restored when we replenish the deficient nutrient. Most vitamins and minerals are not made in the body, so we have to ingest them.
Nutritionists and dietitians recommend you get your vitamins and minerals from food first because they come packaged with other healthy compounds such as fibre, antioxidants, and other protective compounds. The simple act of eating also sends satiety signals to the brain, letting you know that you have eaten and are full. However, vitamins found in food or made in the laboratory are generally equally as healthful.
How well our bodies absorb the nutrients into the bloodstream after eating (the bioavailability) depends on a few factors. One to remember in older age and with the use of antacids is the reduction of stomach acid production. Ordinary stomach acid promotes the bioavailability of minerals from food. Also, the mineral content in plants is heavily impacted by the mineral content in the soil they are grown in, and the more refined a plant product is (e.g. white flour), the less mineral content it has.
Vitamins and minerals interact with each other to increase or decrease absorption and function; eating a variety of foods allows you to get a variety of vitamins and minerals in suitable amounts for the proper functioning of the body. Some medical situations call for “megadoses” of a vitamin or mineral that is more than what you could easily get from food; this should be prescribed by a doctor, specialist, or dietitian.
Supplementing vitamins and minerals at high doses can lead to toxicity and interfere with how other nutrients are absorbed and function in the body as well as interact with some medications. We recommend you don’t take high doses of any nutrient over the recommended daily intake without advice from a health professional.