There are many factors that cause nutrient depletion, such as poor diet, stress, exercise, use of prescription drugs, environmental toxicity, and excessive alcohol intake. For many micronutrients, deficiency, inadequate intake or nutrient depletion is common relative to the RDA. This is why supplements are so important in making up for shortcomings in the diet and preventing deficiencies.
There are 13 essential vitamins that our bodies need for proper growth, function, and maintenance of healthy tissues. The vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble. The B-vitamins and vitamin C dissolve in water and are easily eliminated from the body. Adverse reactions, even with high-dose supplements, are rare with these vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E) are not readily excreted from the body and have the potential to accumulate in the tissues and cause adverse effects at high doses.
Minerals are elements that originate in the earth. The body cannot make minerals so they must be obtained through the diet and/or supplements. Both plant and animal foods provide minerals. Plants obtain minerals from the soil they are grown in. Animals get minerals from the plants they eat, and then we get these minerals indirectly by eating the animal products. There are also some minerals present in drinking water, but this varies with geographic location, as does the mineral content of plants.
Minerals are categorized according to our daily requirements. Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are considered major minerals since we require a substantial amount of these for health and wellness. The trace minerals, which are required in smaller amounts, are chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. The minerals potassium and sodium are known as electrolytes, substances that dissociate into ions (charged particles) in solution, making them capable of conducting electricity.
This month we will be going one by one and looking at each ingredient in your multivitamin. Why you need it, what happens if you have too much or too little, what drugs can deplete it and what you can do to make sure your are getting the maximum benefit.