The 16 essential minerals
In addition to the 13 essential vitamins your body needs, there are 16 essential minerals, all of which you might recognize from the periodic table. Unlike vitamins, minerals are “inorganic,” meaning they do not contain a carbon atom.
Macrominerals are the minerals that your body needs in relatively large amounts; trace minerals are those that your body needs in small amounts. The essential macrominerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The trace minerals your body requires are iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.
Other important nutrients
Another nutrient to note is choline, which is widely understood to play a critical role in nerve and brain function. Meat, eggs and poultry are all excellent sources of choline. Strict vegetarians may want to consider taking a choline supplement.
Each of the essential vitamins and mineral plays a complex set of roles in the body. Magnesium, for example, is a vital element in over 300 biochemical reactions, ranging from protein synthesis to nerve function. It is not hard to imagine the broad potential for health symptoms to arise from a deficiency in this one mineral.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, there are other nutrients that are backed by established research, including omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, antioxidants such as CoQ-10, are gaining recognition for their essential role in the healthy function and immunity of the body’s cells. These examples represent opportunities to improve wellness beyond the basics of vitamin and mineral intake.
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Almost everyone has some experience with vitamins, even if the last ones you took were shaped like a cartoon family. However, with thousands of products on the market, the process of choosing the right vitamins and supplements can be overwhelming. The process is made even more complicated by contradicting information and misleading advertising. You know there is a way to improve your long-term health, but how can you make sure you are taking the right vitamins and supplements?
The key is to know what essential vitamin and nutrients to look out for, to carefully assess your diet, and to consider how your lifestyle and long-term health goals come into play. Remember that vitamin and supplements are not meant to replace a healthy diet. Beyond nutrients, fresh fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, all of which are important.
Know the vitamin and minerals your body needs
### The 13 essential vitamin At the most basic level, vitamins are essential organic substances your body’s cells require to function, grow, develop and heal properly. (In this context, “organic” means they contain the element carbon.) There are 13 “essential vitamin”: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins, B6, B12, biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine. A major deficiency in any one of these vitamin could lead to serious health problems.
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