vitamins and minerals


A quick overview of vitamins and minerals and why they are so vital. Including links to my other posts which give specific details about these nutrients


Vitamins are described as either water-soluble or fat soluble.

Water-Soluble Vitamins Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins

  • Eliminated from the body more easily
  • Must be replaced on a daily basis.

Fat-soluble vitamins

  • Stored in the liver and fatty tissues in the body
  • Toxicity is much more likely with fat-soluble vitamins as they are stored in the body
  • Are made bioavailable and digestible when food source is coupled with fat, for example:
    • Vegetables and nuts
    • Salad and oil

Vitamins and minerals are essential enzymes and coenzymes

  • Coenzymes help enzymes in chemical reactions
  • Enzymes and coenzymes work to either join molecules together or split them apart. They do so by making or breaking the chemical bonds that link them together
  • Enzymes are molecules involved in speeding up chemical reactions necessary for human bodily function (such as energy production or the assembling of tissue components)
  • Enzyme processes are composed of protein, an essential mineral, and possibly a vitamin.
  • Without the essential mineral or vitamin, an enzyme cannot function properly.


Human physiologic function involves 18 different essential minerals. Although minerals are inorganic substances, they often play critical roles, such as acting as coenzymes in a number of reactions.

Major Minerals Minor Minerals

Mineral functions in the Human Body

  • Act as coenzymes in a number of biochemical reactions to facilitate or initiate reactions (chloride helps to maintain pH balance)
  • Can alter electrical currents to generate nerve impulses (magnesium plays a role in nerve impulse transmission)
  • Open channels for transport across otherwise selectively permeable cellular membranes (potassium plays a role in cell membrane transfer)
  • Minerals are necessary for muscle contraction (sodium plays a role in muscle contraction)
  • Minerals can hold different molecules together to form complex structures, or alter the shape of important molecules like enzymes and hormones (sulfur is a component of sulfur‐containing amino acids)
  • Mineral content affects excretory and immune function (potassium and sodium help to regulate water in the body)
  • Minerals form the body’s structure (calcium in bones)


  • As we cannot take in nutrients directly from the earth, we derive our minerals from plants and animals/animal products from animals that eat the plants.
  • When we deplete our soil, we rob our environment of the minerals that we need to nourish our bodies.
  • When we are lacking in certain needed minerals, the corresponding body organs and functions are damaged and impaired.
  • As a result, the beauty in our lives disappears. This is the same as what we are doing with our landscapes as we destroy the beauty of natural biodiversity as land is changed for use in agriculture. Added, we grow the same crops repeatedly and replace the resultant mineral with only enough to repeatedly grow that crop, we rob the earth and our bodies of the full spectrum of minerals which that crop could potentially provide us.
  • Multi-mineral supplements can help to make up for this. Better is to eat a diet rich in a broad variety of plant foods (eg vegetables, beans, nuts and grains). And best is to eat a diet that is grown according to ethical, environmental and health standards (eg avoiding pollutants and pesticides)

shutterstock_654510328-1Vitamin and mineral supplementation

  • Not everybody can absorb and assimilate vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Many vitamins and minerals are toxic in large amounts
  • Supplementing may add to the “chemical load” of the body and what it needs to expel to detoxify
  • Supplements pull a vitamin and mineral out of natural context and may contain types of minerals and vitamins the body cannot absorb
  • Supplements often lack the essential co-factors needed for absorption and use that exist in food form

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies:

  • Detecting: look for symptoms (test can be done in a lab)
  • Treating: check first for problems absorbing a vitamin and the need to boost absorptive capacity with
    • Pre-digested foods
    • Prebiotics
    • Probiotics
  • Looking at other factors in absorption and assimilation to pinpoint why a deficiency is happening (eg lack of production of Intrinsic factor in stomach causing lack of B12 absorption)

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

Bland, J., Costarella, L., Levin, B., Liska, D., Lukaczer, D., Schlitz, B., Schmidt, M., Lerman, R., Quinn, S., Jones, D. (2004). Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, Second Edition. Gig Harbor, WA: The Institute for Functional Medicine

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