There is nothing new or unusual about dietary supplements. Vitamins and minerals in tablet or capsule forms have been around for more than 50 years. Only a decade ago, most dietary supplements were based on nutrients, such as vitamins B and C, and minerals, such as iron and calcium, that were known to be deficient in various diets around the world. Advancements in nutritional knowledge have shown how diets have been lacking in several essential nutrients, including trace elements.
Why balancing nutrients and fluids is important:
What matters in the body is balance, whether we look at blood sugar, water, inflammation etc. Balancing the right amounts of all nutrients and fluids creates the difference between health and disease.
If one mineral is in excess, it may unbalance at least 2 others, which will then affect other minerals.
Unless you really know what you are doing, do not consume large doses of a single nutrient. Take them in balance. E.g. rather take an antioxidant complex than one single nutrient supplement as they recycle and repair each other. Large doses of vitamin C, for example, can deplete copper - and even though vitamin C is an immune enhancer and assists in fighting viruses, copper helps combat bacterial infections.
More about Vitamins and minerals:
Minerals are required to activate enzymes. Vitamins are considered coenzymes as they aid the minerals in their activity.
A vitamin is defined as an organic compound that is required in small amounts for the maintenance of normal metabolic function. Strictly speaking, a vitamin is a dietary essential that cannot be synthesised in the body. However, there are two exceptions– vitamin D, in the skin after exposure to sunlight and niacin, made from the essential amino acid tryptophan.
Recapping the history of vitamins
The vitamins were discovered during the early part of the twentieth century. (Cassius Funk) Researchers found that for life and growth, animals required something more than a diet consisting of purified carbohydrate, protein, fat, minerals and water.
The first of these dietary essentials discovered was an anti-beriberi substance isolated from rice polishings. It was given the name ‘vitamine’ as the substance was an amine and necessary for life
Shortly after this a compound was extracted from butter and called fat-soluble vitamine A.
As each additional vitamins were discovered they were each assigned a letter. The ‘e’ on vitamine was dropped because only a few of the essential compounds were found to be amines.
Further studies showed that ‘vitamin B’ was a mixture of several compounds with different actions in the body and so they were given numbers as well. There are gaps in the numerical order as some compounds assumed to be vitamins and given numbers (e.g. B4) were later shown either to not be vitamins, or to be vitamins already described by other workers and given other names, for example, vitamin B3 was found to be a chemical compound already known as nicotinic acid.
Vitamins C, D and E were named in the order of their discovery. The name ‘vitamin F’ was used at one time for essential fatty acids, ‘vitamin G’ was later found to be what was already known as vitamin B2 and biotin is still sometimes called vitamin H. Vitamin K was so called because of its role in coagulation (koagulation in Danish – discovered in Denmark).
As the chemical structure of a vitamin became known, it was given a chemical name. When the chemical name was applied, it was assumed that the name given applied to one substance with one specific activity. Now it is evident that a vitamin may have a variety of functions and that a vitamin may be found in several closely related compounds known as vitamers.
An example is vitamin A – it has several seemingly unrelated functions and encompasses not only retinal but also retinoic acid.
Also, niacin is the generic descriptor for 2 compounds, namely nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, which have the same biological activity. Vitamin B6 is used to describe the 6 compounds that have B6 activity.
Minerals are chemical molecules that cannot be reduced to simpler substances – they are the 103 currently known elements of the chemistry periodic table. Minerals remain as an ash residue when plant or animal tissues burn or decay.
In most cases, optimal levels of minerals exist and the essential minerals must be present in the body in their correct balance. Excessive consumption or accumulation of minerals is generally equally as undesirable (i.e. toxic) as a deficiency. The Central Nervous and endocrine system (hormones) control the utilisation of minerals.
What affects our mineral levels:
- Requirement (dependent on age, gender, stage of life, etc.)
- Biochemical individuality.
- Digestive functioning, including liver function
- Absorption ability
- Utilisation capacity
- Excretion rates (E.g. diarrhoea, excessive sweating, etc.)
- Synergistic / antagonistic nutrients