If it only took eating an apple a day to get all the necessary nutrients from our food, we’d all be happy and healthy, but it’s not. We actually need to consume 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each and every day[1] to ensure we are getting all 13 different vitamins and 17 different minerals.

But why? What do vitamins and minerals do for us anyway?

The human body consists of millions of cells that are constantly regenerating. Each cell in the body needs a certain amount of vitamins and minerals to perform at its best and prevent illness. Vitamins are critical in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of the nervous, skeletal and immune systems[2]. Minerals are also needed in small amounts to help regulate body functions and aid in the growth and maintenance of body tissues and to help release energy[3].

Below is a chart of the major functions of the 13 vitamins and a selection of 10 minerals.

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List of Vitamins and Major Functions

  • Vitamin A – Maintenance of vision; skin; linings of the nose, mouth, digestive and urinary tracts; immune function
  • Vitamin D – Development and maintenance of bones and teeth; promotion of calcium absorption
  • Vitamin E – Protection and maintenance of cellular membranes
  • Vitamin K – Production of factors essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism
  • Biotin – Synthesis of fat, glycogen and amino acids
  • Folate – Amino acid metabolism; synthesis of RNA and DNA; new cell synthesis
  • Niacin – Conversion of carbohydrates, fats and protein into usable forms of energy
  • Panthothenic Acid – Metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins
  • Riboflavin – Energy metabolism; maintenance of skin, mucous membranes and nervous system structures
  • Thiamin – Conversion of carbohydrates into usable forms of energy; maintenance of appetite and nervous system function
  • Vitamin B6 – Metabolism of amino acids and glycogen
  • Vitamin B12 – Synthesis of blood cells; other metabolic reactions
  • Vitamin C – Maintenance and repair of connective tissue, bones, teeth and cartilage; promotion of healing; aid in iron absorption
  • Minerals
  • Calcium – Formation of bones, teeth; control of nerve impulses, muscle contractions and blood clotting
  • Fluoride – Maintenance of tooth and bone structure
  • Iodine – Essential part of thyroid hormones; regulation of body metabolism
  • Iron – Component of hemoglobin, myoglobin and enzymes
  • Magnesium – Transmission of nerve impulses; energy transfer; activation of enzymes
  • Phosphorus – Bone growth and maintenance; energy transfer in cells
  • Potassium – Nerve function and body water balance
  • Selenium – Defense against oxidative stress; regulation of thyroid hormone action
  • Sodium – Body water balance; acid-base balance; nerve function
  • Zinc – Synthesis of proteins; RNA and DNA; wound healing; immune response; ability to taste

According to Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “When we compare recommendations for vitamin and mineral intakes to actual consumption, many Americans do not even come close to getting what they need for several nutrients,” This is why many doctors are recommending that their patients supplement their diets with a high-quality multi-mineral and multi-vitamin. Dr. Ray Strand, a specialist in nutritional medicine wrote; “… there was no way my patients could receive health benefits from optimal levels of nutrients without supplementing their diet. It became very obvious to me that my patients needed to supplement their diet with high-quality, complete and balanced nutritional supplements for the best protection against chronic degenerative diseases."

How do we know what to look for in a multivitamin?

Again, quoting Dr. Ray Strand, “The FDA looks at nutritional supplements the same way it looks at foods. This entire industry is really not regulated, and a nutritional company can pretty much put any amount of nutrients in their tablets. In other words, the amount stated on the label is not necessarily what is in the tablet. Unless a nutritional company voluntarily produces its nutritional supplements in a pharmaceutical-grade method, the consumer has no assurance that what is on the label is in the tablet. Why sell your health to the lowest bidder? Taking high-quality, complete and balanced nutritionals are the least expensive health insurance policy you will ever purchase."

Things to look for in a multivitamin:

1. Does it follow Good Manufacturing Practices? GMP is a term that is recognized worldwide for the control and management of manufacturing and quality control testing of foods, pharmaceutical products, and medical devices.

2. Is it NSF Certified? NSF International is an independent, not for-profit organization that helps protect public health by writing standards for food, water, air, and consumer goods; testing and certifying products based on those standards; inspecting for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP); and providing ongoing monitoring.

In conclusion, by combining a healthy diet and moderate exercise along with a high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade multivitamin, you’re on the path to achieving optimal health and are more likely to keep the doctor away!

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