HOW many of us take vitamins and minerals in tablet form on a daily basis? I certainly do but do we really need them?
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients our body needs in small amounts to work properly.
Most of us should get all the nutrients we need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
If you choose to take vitamin and mineral supplements, be aware that taking too many or taking them for too long can cause harmful effects.
What are vitamins?
There are two types of vitamins, fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods such as animal fats, including butter and lard, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish.
While your body needs these vitamins every day to work properly, you do not need to eat foods containing them every day.
This is because your body stores these vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for future use. These stores can build up so they are there when you need them.
However, if you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so you need them more frequently.
If you have more than you need your body gets rid of the extra vitamins when you urinate. As the body does not store water-soluble vitamins, these vitamins are generally not harmful. However this does not mean that all large amounts are necessarily harmless.
Water-soluble vitamins are found in fruit, vegetables and grains. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they can be destroyed by heat or by being exposed to the air. They can also be lost in water used for cooking.
This means that by cooking foods, especially boiling them, we lose many of these vitamins. The best way to keep as many of the water-soluble vitamins as possible is to steam or grill foods, rather than boil them.
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NON'S TOP TIPS:
If you have a balanced diet you do not need to take extra vitamins or minerals.
If you do not have a balanced diet make sure you do not take too many vitamins as they can be harmful.
Steam your vegetables. Lots of vitamins are lost when they are cooked.
Grill your meat or fish to ensure you keep as many of the vitamins and minerals as possible.
Essential minerals include calcium and iron.