Vitamins and minerals - essential nutrients to support a fully functioning, healthy body, mind and healthy lifestyle. Essentially, they are required to help perform hundreds of roles within the human body, from healing wounds and boosting our immune system to converting food to energy and repairing cells.
But something I think we'll all agree that we take a little for granted and never really think too much about in our day to day lives. However, when something is so important to how we fundamentally function - taking more care and consideration into what we're putting into our bodies and what we actually need, should be incorporated into our daily routine much like getting up and having a shower is!
In this post, we look at the top five reasons why vitamins and minerals are so important to our health and wellbeing.
But before that, let's consider how we can get these essential nutrients into our diet.
Food vs. Supplement
In essence, we all should be making sure that we get as much as possible from the food choices we make and the food we consume, but this is the 21st century and I'm not naive enough to believe that this is always possible. That's where vitamin and mineral supplements naturally come into play.
Ideally we should be eating as much organic and nutritionally loaded food as possible and then using supplements such as multi-vitamins, Omega 3, Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C etc. (there's so many I could go on for ever!) to meet any dietary shortfalls in our NRV. And that's no bad thing - trust me.
For those of you considering changing your lifestyle choices, and going down the Primal path, if we think back to where it all began and our ancestors, you'd be right in questioning that they didn't take any supplements to boost their intake of vitamins and minerals so why should we? I've thought long and hard about this and I've reached this conclusion:
- They weren't available (clear cut fact!)
- Our ancestors were able to eat hundreds of different plants, bugs, insects and animals that were all natural and not contaminated with harmful toxins and as the seasons changed so did their food availability and options
The diet of our early ancestors was far more diverse than what modern man is used to nowadays. And yes, we could go around eating bugs and insects (although if you're anything like me, living like they do in the I'm A Celeb jungle and eating creepy crawlies gives me the heeby jeebies!). But I believe the key difference that we need to remember is that intensive agriculture, fast growth crops and a lot of processed foods today means our produce is significantly lower in vitamins and minerals than it used to be. Not only that, it's probably also ploughed full of harmful toxins, pesticides and poison to prolong the life of the crops. And that in part is why, whenever possible, we should be opting for organic produce every day of the week.
While a balanced diet should provide our complete vitamin quota, nutritionists argue that modern life often leaves us short.
So, whilst we should be sourcing our vitamins and minerals from as much organic produce as possible, using additional supplements to boost our intake and ensure we're getting our RDA is perfectly acceptable!
Vitamin and Mineral RDA: The Lowdown
The European Food Safety Association (EFSA) have issued guidelines for the amount of minerals we need to consume on a daily basis, they call them NRV - Nutritional Reference Values.
The below tables give some indication on the acceptable levels of vitamins and minerals we should be consuming based on your gender and age.
|Vitamin||Vitamin A||Vitamin D||Vitamin E||Vitamin K||Vitamin C||B1 Thiamine|
|Measurement||(μg /d) millionth of a gram||(μg /d) millionth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(μg /d) millionth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram|
|RDA / AI||RDA||RDA||RDA||AI||RDA||RDA|
|19 - 30 Years||900||15||15||120||90||1.2|
|31 - 50 Years||900||15||15||120||90||1.2|
|51 - 70 Years||900||15||15||120||90||1.2|
|19 - 30 Years||700||15||15||90||75||1.1|
|31 - 50 Years||700||15||15||90||75||1.1|
|51 - 70 Years||700||15||15||90||75||1.1|
|EU Nutritional Reference Value||800||5||12||75||80||1.1|
|Vitamin||B2 Riboflavin||B3 Niacin||B5 Pantothenic Acid||B6 Pryidoxine||B7 Biotin||B9 Folate||B12 Cobalamin|
|Measurement||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(μg /d) millionth of a gram||(μg /d) millionth of a gram||(μg /d) millionth of a gram|
|RDA / AI||RDA||RDA||AI||RDA||AI||RDA||RDA|
|19 - 30 Years||1.3||16||5||1.3||30||400||2.4|
|31 - 50 Years||1.3||16||5||1.3||30||400||2.4|
|51 - 70 Years||1.3||16||5||1.7||30||400||2.4|
|19 - 30 Years||1.1||14||5||1.3||30||400||2.4|
|31 - 50 Years||1.1||14||5||1.3||30||400||2.4|
|51 - 70 Years||1.1||14||5||1.5||30||400||2.4|
|EU Nutritional Reference Value||1.4||16||6||1.4||50||200||2.5|
|Measurement||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram|
|RDA / AI||RDA||RDA||RDA||RDA||AI||RDA|
|9 - 13 Years||1,300||1,250||240||8||2|
|14 - 18 Years||1,300||1,250||410||11||3|
|19 - 30 Years||1,000||700||400||8||4||9.5|
|31 - 50 Years||1,000||700||420||8||4||9.5|
|51 - 70 Years||1,000||700||420||8||4||9.5|
|> 70 Years||1,200||700||420||8||4|
|9 - 13 Years||1,300||1,250||240||8||2|
|14 - 18 Years||1,300||1,250||360||15||3|
|19 - 30 Years||1,000||700||310||18||3||7|
|31 - 50 Years||1,000||700||320||18||3||7|
|51 - 70 Years||1,200||700||320||8||3||7|
|> 70 Years||1,200||700||320||8||3|
|EU Nutritional Reference Value||800||700||375||14||3.5||10|
|Measurement||(mg/d) thousandth of a gram||(mcg/d) millionth of a gram||(mcg/d) millionth of a gram||(g/d) grams daily||(g/d) grams daily||(g/d) grams daily||(mcg/d) millionth of a gram||(mcg/d) millionth of a gram||(mcg/d) millionth of a gram|
|RDA / AI||AI||RDA||RDA||AI||AI||AI||RDA||RDA||AI|
|9 - 13 Years||1.9||34||40||4.5||1.5||2.3||700||120||25|
|14 - 18 Years||2.2||43||55||4.7||1.5||2.3||890||150||35|
|19 - 30 Years||2.3||45||55||4.7||1.5||2.3||900||150||35|
|31 - 50 Years||2.3||45||55||4.7||1.5||2.3||900||150||35|
|51 - 70 Years||2.3||45||55||4.7||1.3||2||900||150||30|
|> 70 Years||2.3||45||55||4.7||1.2||1.8||900||150||30|
|9 - 13 Years||1.6||34||40||4.5||1.5||2.3||700||120||21|
|14 - 18 Years||1.6||43||55||4.7||1.5||2.3||890||150||24|
|19 - 30 Years||1.8||45||55||4.7||1.5||2.3||900||150||25|
|31 - 50 Years||1.8||45||55||4.7||1.5||2.3||900||150||25|
|51 - 70 Years||1.8||45||55||4.7||1.3||2||900||150||20|
|> 70 Years||1.8||45||55||4.7||1.2||1.8||900||150||20|
|EU Nutritional Reference Value||2||50||55||2||-||0.8||1000||150||40|
Source: Primal Cure (2018)
Next question on your lips is probably, "where do we get all these from?". We've already alluded to the fact that the majority of our intake should come from organic food sources (keep your eyes peeled for our post on food choices and the top 10 common sources to help get your vitamin and mineral RDA intake). But when that's not possible adding supplements to our diet is as good as way as any to boost out shortfall.
But, if you can't wait until our next post, head on over to the nutrition section of our website where you can get the lowdown on some of the key sources to help you get your RDA of vitamins and minerals.
Five Reasons Why
So then finally we get to the nitty gritty. We've already mentioned that vitamins and minerals are essential for us to maintain a fully functioning healthy body, healthy mind and healthy lifestyle. But just what else is there to keep us on the path of longevity and convince you that they are beneficial to supporting a healthy lifestyle.
Let's take a look:
#1 - Helps fight off diseases
Yes that's right, you read that correctly. Ensuring our body's are full of nutrient rich vitamins and minerals through wholesome, natural sources can actually help fight off certain diseases including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and in some cases, cancer.
Don't believe me?
Take a look at Jen Whitington's book - Fixing Dad: How to Transform the Health of Someone You Love, which follows the story about a father who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and after simply following a healthier lifestyle and Primal way of living, that incorporated substantial vitamins and minerals as part of his diet, has now reversed the disease and cured him!
It's important to note here that taking our recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals won't cure these diseases alone, it's just one part of the puzzle - but when combined with a healthy, active lifestyle can most certainly contribute to it!
#2 - Increased energy
It's been proven that certain vitamins, such as those from the B-vitamin family are essential for energy and increased energy levels.
Again, this really does go hand in hand with living more Primally, as better choices and quality food options that are nutrient-rich = more energy and a healthier lifestyle.
#3 - Weight control
Goes without saying really doesn't it?! We look after our body and what we put into it, then in turn our body will look after us.
Again, a firm stance with the Primal lifestyle that ensures we only ever put goodness into our body. That in turn helps to regulate all the inner goings on inside and helps maintain a healthy, happy weight. Linking back to my previous point as well, the more goodness we pump in, the more energy we have. The more energy we have, the more active we'll be. The more active we are, the better chances we have of keeping that weight off. You get my point!
#4 - Stronger immune system
This one's pretty obvious really. The likes of vitamin C and vitamin A are renowned for building and enhancing our immune system, helping us fend off those pesky colds and flu and helps growth and connective tissue for a nice healthy, strong internal system.
#5 - Strong bones and a healthy heart
A combination of a number of vitamins and minerals including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorous are all key contributors to maintaining strong and healthy bones. Helping as well to fend off the likes of arthritis because essentially, we're looking after those joints and bones that we would be pretty lost without the use, or restricted use, of.
Now, these aren't the only reasons obviously, but it just gives an indication into how beneficial vitamins and minerals are to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there are 13 more reasons why...and those being the 13 vitamins that are essential for the human body (see what I did there?!). If you're intrigued to find out more - watch out for our downloadable guide which will give you the ins and outs in more depth.
As I've alluded to throughout this post, where possible we should ideally be getting our vitamin and mineral intake from natural, organic food sources. But, again, using supplements on a daily basis to make up for any shortfall is still perfectly normal and certainly won't do us any harm. And with an abundance of options available on the market we're spoilt for choice as to which and what we take. But don't let that put you off.