Vitamins and minerals are vital to the proper functioning of our bodies. A balanced diet is the safest way to assure that the right types and quantities of vitamins and minerals are being ingested.
There exist two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins come from animals (butter, dairy foods, liver, fish oils) and vegetables (various oil types). These vitamins are key to everyday activities. However, they do not need to be consumed daily as our bodies can store them (in our liver and fatty tissues). Moderation is important since too much fat-soluble vitamins may have adverse consequences. Fat-soluble vitamins include: Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in our bodies. Therefore they need to be consumed often. Excess amounts of these vitamins are not considered noxious since they are eliminated through our urine. All fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are sources of water-soluble vitamins. They are fragile when exposed to the environment or high temperatures. So when chopping them, eat them quickly and when cooking them, have them steamed in order to preserve their full nutritious content. Water-soluble vitamins include: Vitamin C and the B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B12, and folic acid.
Minerals perform three key functions: forging strong bones and teeth, maintaining cell fluids, and converting food into energy. Minerals are inorganic. They come from soil and water and penetrate into plants and animals. Sources include meats, fish, dairy foods, vegetables, fruits, dried fruits (more than in regular fruits), and nuts. The main minerals are calcium and iron. There are other important minerals our bodies require, but in considerable lower quantities. These are the so called Trace Elements: Chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, selenium, and zinc.