Nutrition journey: Part 4.1 – Brief on essential vitamins and minerals

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Vitamins are organic compounds required in small quantities to prevent clinical deficiency and deterioration in health, growth, reproduction and performance. Vitamins are quite effective in small quantities and play a key role in transformation of energy. Vitamins act as coenzymes in the enzymatic system of the body which act as catalyst for chemical reactions in the body.

Vitamins are classified based on their solubility: Fat-soluble vitamins (VitA, D, E, K) and water soluble vitamins (B-Complex and VitC)

Vit A,B,C,D,E,K are essential vitamins which mean they are not produced by the body and should be consumed through diet.

The tabel below is a summary of each essential vitamin, their major functions, best food sources and also the recommended amount to consume daily

  Essential vitamins, their function and sources
Fat-Soluble
Nutrient Function Source Amount per day Picture
VitA Necessary for healthy vision, skin and mucous membrane. Also to build healthy bone, tooth growth and immune system health Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, apricots, leafy green vegetables, fortified milk, cheese, margarine also eggs and liver 700-900ug/day  Image result for VitAmin food sources
VitD Necessary for proper absorption of calcium. VitD is also stored in bones Sunlight, Egg yolk, liver, oily fish, fortified milk and margarine 5-15ug/day  Image result for VitAmin food sources
VitE Strong antioxidant which protects against oxidative stress and damage to cell walls Poly-unsaturated plant oils, leafy green vegetables, whole grain products, liver, egg yolk, nuts and seeds 15mg/day  Image result for Vitamin E in food sources
VitK Necessary for proper blood clotting Leafy green vegetables, milk 75-120ug/day  Image result for Vitamin K in food sources
Water-Soluble
Nutrient Function Source Amount per day Picture
VitB1 (Thiamine) Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism. Also important to nerve function Found in most food in moderate amounts: pork, whole-grains, enriched bread and cereal, legumes, nuts and seeds 1-1.2mg/day  Image result for Vitamin b1 in food sources
VitB2 (Riboflavin) Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism. Also important for vision and skin health Milk and milk products, leafy green vegetables, whole-grains, enriched breads and cereal 1-1.3mg/day      Related image
VitB3 (Niacin) Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism. Also important for nervous system, digestive system and skin health Meat, poultry, fish, whole-grains, enriched breads and cereal, mushrooms, asparagus, peanut butter 14-16mg/day     Related image
VitB5 (Pantothenic acid) Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism Widespread in foods, mushrooms, oily fish, avocados, eggs, beef, poultry, sunflower seeds, sweet potato 5mg/day  Image result for Vitamin b5 in food sources
VitB6 (Pyridoxine) Part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism and assist in making red blood cells Meat, fish, poultry, most fruit and vegetables 1-1.5mg/day  Related image
VitB7 (Biotin) Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism Spinach, carrots, nuts, eggs, milk, berries, onion, cucumber (Could be produced in the intestinal tract by bacteria.) 25-30ug/day  Image result for Vitamin b7 in food sources
VitB9 (Folic acid) Part of an enzyme needed for making DNA and new cells, especially red blood cells. Leafy green vegetables, legumes, seeds, orange juice, liver 400ug/day     Image result for Vitamin b5 in food sources
VitB12 (Cobalamin) Part of an enzyme needed for making new cells. Also important to nerve function. Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, egg, milk (not found in plant food) 2.4ug/day   Related image
VitC (Ascorbic acid) Strong antioxidant, part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism, important for immune system health, aids in iron absorption. Only in vegetables and fruit, especially citrus fruit, vegetables in the cabbage family, strawberries, peppers, papaya, kiwi, mangoes 75-90mg/day  Image result for Vitamin b5 in food sources

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Minerals are inorganic substance found naturally on earth. Based on their daily requirement by the body, minerals are classified as macro-minerals (>100mg/day required) (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) or trace elements (<20mg/day) (iron, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium). Several macro-minerals and trace elements are essential in exercise. Magnesium, iron, zinc and copper act as enzyme activator in glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and maintenance of acid-base equilibrium and muscle contractions.

The tabel below is a summary of each mineral, their major functions, best food sources and also the recommended amount to consume daily.

Minerals, their function and sources
Macrominerals
Mineral Function Source Amount per day Picture
Sodium Necessary for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Table salt, soy sauce, processed food and small amounts found in milk, bread, vegetables. meat 1300-1500 mg/day  Image result for sodium food sources
Chloride Necessary for proper fluid balance and stomach acid balance Table salt, soy sauce, processed food and small amounts found in milk, bread, vegetables. meat 2000-2300 mg/day  Image result for chloride food sources
Potassium Necessary for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle contraction Meat, milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole-grains and legumes 4500-4700 mg/day  Image result for sodium food sources
Calcium Important for healthy bones and teeth. Helps muscles relax and contract. Important in nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation and immune system health Milk and milk products, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines), greens like broccoli and legumes 1200-1300 mg/day  Image result for calcium food sources
Phosphorus Important for healthy bones and teeth. Found in every cell. Part of the system that maintain acid-base balance Meat, fish, poultry, egg, milk 700-1250 mg/day  Image result for phosphorus food sources
Magnesium Found in bones, needed for making protein, muscle contraction, nerve transmission and immune health Nuts, seeds, legumes, leafy green vegetables, seafood, choicolate, bananas 410-420 mg/day  Related image
Trace minerals
Mineral Function Source Amount per day Picture
Iron Part of a molecule (hemoglobin) found in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the body, neede for energy metabolism Organ meats, red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, egg yolk, legumes, fried fruit, leafy green vegetables, enriched breads and cereals 8-18mg/day  Related image
Zinc Part of many enzymes, needed to make protein and genetic material. Has a function in taste perception, wound healing, fetal development, sperm production, normal growth, sexual maturation, immune health Meat, fish, leavened whole grains, vegetables 8-11mg/day  Image result for zinc foods
Iodine Found in thyroid hormone, which helps regulate growth, development and metabolism Seafood, foods that grow in iodine-rich soil, iodized salt, bread, dairy products 150g/day  Image result for iodine foods
Selenium Antioxidant Meats, seafood, grains 55ug/day  Image result for selenium foods
Copper Part of many enzymes needed for iron metabolism Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, organ meat 900ug/day  Image result for copper foods
Manganese Part of many enzymes Widespread in plant foods 1.6-2.3mg/day  Image result for manganese foods
Fluoride Involved in formation of bones and teeth and helps prevent tooth decay Drinking water, fish and most teas 3-4mg/day  Image result for fluoride foods
Chromium .Works closely with insulin to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels Unrefined foods, liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, nuts cheese 20-35ug/day  Image result for chloride food sources

Athlete corner

The daily requirement for some vitamins and minerals increase beyond normal levels in highly physical active people. The potential reason for this increased requirement are excretion through sweating and urine but also free radical production. However athletes should increase total energy intake and thus compensate for the higher vitamin and mineral requirement through increased intake of food. Therefore it is important to also increase the intake of fruit and veg and not only carbohydrates for energy and protein for amino acids, when increased dietary intake occurs. However some athletes fail to consume sufficient fruit and vegetables.

Most vitamins participate in processes related to muscle contraction and energy expenditure. Vitamins of the B complex group (thiamine, riboflavin, Vit B6, niacin, biotin and pantothenic acid) act as cofactor for enzymes regulating glycolysis, citric acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation thus energy production and fatty-acid breakdown. While anti-oxidants (Vit C and E) participate as buffer system against free radicals, produced by exercise and energy turnover.

Physical performance can be effected even when micronutrient deficiency is only marginal. Supplementation of water soluble vitamins is associated with improved corresponding indicators in the blood. Moreover, supplementation of VitC may decrease stress response induced after very strenuous physical activity.

Still evidence for the benefits of vitamin and mineral supplementation on athletic performance are still limited. Therefore the answer lies in a healthy, well balanced diet to ensure sufficient vitamin and mineral intake. If you are on a restricted energy intake diet you might possibly need supplementation.

Please see the table attached to understand which vitamins and minerals plays which essential role in exercise and training.

 

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