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What are vitamins and minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body needs to work properly. Most of us get the vitamins and minerals we need by eating a healthy balanced diet. Sometimes, however, people need to supplement their diet with added vitamins and minerals as it's not as easy as you may think to get all you need from your food!


Vitamins are divided into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

  1. Fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are found in animal products and foods that contain fat - like milk, butter, vegetable oils, eggs and oily fish. Rather than being easily absorbed into the bloodstream like most water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins enter your bloodstream via your intestinal wall. 

What they do:

These vitamins help keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system on point. There are, of course, a number of other roles vitamins play:

  1. Build bones: Bone formation would be impossible without vitamins A, D, and K.
  2. Protect vision: Vitamin A helps keep cells healthy and protects your vision.
  3. Interact favourably: Without vitamin E, your body would have difficulty absorbing and storing vitamin A.
  4. Protect the body: Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant (a compound that helps protect the body against damage from free radicals which damage your cells).
  1. Water-soluble vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the B vitamins and are contained in foods like fruit, vegetables, milk, dairy and grains. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves.

Many of the water-soluble vitamins circulate easily in your body. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins, which means that excess amounts leave the body through your pee.

What they do:

Although water-soluble vitamins have many tasks in the body, one of the most important is helping to free the energy found in the food you eat. Others help keep tissues healthy. Here are some examples of how different vitamins help you maintain health:

  • Release energy: Several B vitamins are key components of certain coenzymes (molecules that aid enzymes) that help release energy from food.
  • Produce energy: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin engage in energy production.
  • Build proteins and cells: Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid metabolize amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and help cells multiply.
  • Make collagen: One of many roles played by vitamin C is to help make collagen, which knits together wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms a base for teeth and bones.



We’ve divided these into “major” and “trace” minerals. Major minerals minerals are no more important to your health than the trace minerals; they’re just present in your body in greater amounts.

Major minerals

Major minerals travel through the body in various ways. Potassium, for example, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates freely and is excreted by the kidneys, much like a water-soluble vitamin. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a carrier for absorption and transport.

  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Sulfur

What they do:

One of the key tasks of major minerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body. Sodium, chloride, and potassium take the lead in doing this. Three other major minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—are important for healthy bones. Sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including some of those that make up hair, skin, and nails.

Trace minerals

A thimble could easily contain the distillation of all the trace minerals normally found in your body. Yet their contributions are just as essential as those of major minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which each account for more than a pound of your body weight.

  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Fluoride
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

What they do:

Trace minerals carry out a diverse set of tasks. Here are a few examples:

  • Iron is best known for ferrying oxygen throughout the body.
  • Fluoride strengthens bones and wards off tooth decay.
  • Zinc helps blood clot, is essential for taste and smell, and bolsters the immune response.
  • Copper helps form several enzymes, one of which assists with iron metabolism and the creation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

The other trace minerals perform equally vital jobs, such as helping to block damage to body cells and forming parts of key enzymes or enhancing their activity.

Trace minerals interact with one another, sometimes in ways that can trigger imbalances. Too much of one can cause or contribute to a deficiency of another.

Consider your lifestyle and health goals

Factors like age, gender, fitness level, and geographic location can mean that a person needs more or less of a given nutrient. For example, women entering their 50s might be more in need of bone-strengthening vitamins to help protect against osteoporosis. Women thinking about getting pregnant, on the other hand, need more of a different set of vitamins, like folate and iron.

You also may want to get more or less of certain vitamins depending on your specific short-term and long-term health goals. If you have trouble sleeping, or if you’re concerned about long-term heart health because of your family history, taking supplements could help.

Even the most health-savvy individuals could benefit from a professional opinion or alternative perspective. Additionally, a brief online assessment could be a convenient way to receive recommendations tailored to your specific needs and goals. As scientific research into nutrition continues to progress, online resources are a valuable tool in navigating this important topic.

You may be thinking, how do I know which vitamins and minerals are right for me?

Head to and take our quiz for a personalised supplement recommendation specifically formulated to meet your health and lifestyle needs. Start your journey to a healthier you, today!

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