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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Vitamins and Minerals
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
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Overview of Vitamins

What Are Vitamins?

A vitamin is an organic substance that is essential (i.e., vital) for life. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body and so must be obtained from the diet or supplements.

Vitamins fall into two main groups. Fat-soluble vitamins require a certain amount of fat to be absorbed. They are also stored longer in the body. Common examples of fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, K, and E. The second major group of vitamins is termed water-soluble. Vitamins in this group do not need fat to be absorbed and are excreted out of the body much more readily than fat-soluble vitamins are. Vitamins C and B are water-soluble.

What Are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic substances that are important components of tissues and fluids. They are necessary for the proper functioning of vitamins, enzymes, hormones, and other metabolic activities in the body. Minerals compose 4 percent of the body's weight.

Most minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, and ­ magnesium, are found in the bones. Some minerals are required in minute amounts; these are called trace minerals. Chromium is an example of a trace mineral, because it is required in ­ micrograms (1/1000th of a milligram), as opposed to minerals like calcium, which are required in milligrams.

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