Nutritional Roles of Vitamins and Minerals

Jessica Drew
Vitamin roles

Knowing about vitamins and minerals and their roles is very important to make sure you receive the proper nutrition. Taking a high quality multivitamin is only one part of eating healthfully; you must also make sure you get vitamins and minerals from food sources. After all, you do get most of your nutrition from food. You need to know which foods have what vitamins and minerals to ensure you eat a balanced diet. Use the following list of major vitamins and minerals and their role when shopping, dining out or cooking.

The Role Vitamins Play in Nutrition

Everyone needs all the following vitamins. They regulate metabolic processes, control cellular functions, and prevent diseases, such as scurvy and rickets. On this list, you will find the name of each vitamin, any additional name it may have in parentheses, what it does, and the food sources it's in. You will not find the recommended amount for each one, because this is dependent on individualized factors such as age, sex and weight. For this information contact your nutritionist or doctor.

Vitamin A

  • Needed for: normal growth, integrity of the skin, good eyesight and bone development
  • Sources: butter, butterfat in milk, egg yolk, some fruits (prunes, pineapples, oranges, limes, and cantaloupe), green leafy vegetables and carrots

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

  • Needed for: growth, appetite, and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Sources: whole grains, nuts, egg yolk, fruits and most vegetables

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

  • Needed for: growth and cellular metabolism
  • Sources: liver, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and green vegetables

Vitamin B6 (niacin)

  • Needed for: proper neurological function
  • Sources: liver, meat, poultry, and green vegetables

Vitamin B12 (folic acid)

  • Needed for: proper neurological function and to prevent anemia
  • Sources: leafy green vegetables, organ meats, lean beef and veal, and wheat cereals

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

  • Needed for: formation of connective tissue between cells as well as maintenance of the proteins that secure cells to membranes; a deficiency leads to scurvy or rickets in children
  • Sources: raw cabbage, carrots, orange juice, lettuce, celery, onions, tomatoes, and all citrus fruits

Vitamin D

  • Needed for: development of bones and teeth
  • Sources: exposure to sunlight, and is also found in milk, cod liver oil, salmon, egg yolk, and butter fat

Vitamin E

  • Needed for: all human life and for the healing of scars
  • Sources: necessary amounts are in almost every fruit, vegetable and oil

Vitamin K

  • Needed for: blood clotting
  • Sources: fats, oats, wheat, rye, and alfalfa

The Role of Minerals

Many take minerals for granted; they just don't seem as important as vitamins. This could not be further from the truth. They are the organizers of the molecular structure of the cell and its membrane. This is of critical importance to all human life.

Chromium

  • Needed for: maintenance of normal blood sugar levels
  • Sources: meats, unrefined foods, fats, and vegetable oils

Copper

  • Needed for: the production of red blood cells and the formation of connective tissues
  • Sources: meat, seafood, nuts, and seeds

Fluorine

  • Needed for: the structure of teeth
  • Sources: tap water (in some areas), seafood, kidney, liver, and other meats

Manganese

  • Needed for: synthesis of DNA, RNA, and protein
  • Sources: whole grains and cereals, fruits, and vegetables

Selenium

  • Needed for: protecting lipids of cell membranes, proteins, and nucleic acids against oxidant damage
  • Sources: broccoli, chicken, cucumbers, egg yolk, garlic, liver, milk, mushrooms, onions, seafood, and tuna

Zinc

  • Needed for: synthesis of protein, DNA and RNA
  • Sources: meats, oysters and other seafood, milk, and egg yolk

Essential for a Balanced Diet

While vitamins and minerals each have their own important role, it's important to get the recommended amount of each because vitamins and minerals also work together to keep us healthy. Use this sheet as a guide to eat a balanced diet and get the right amount of vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional Roles of Vitamins and Minerals