Once upon a time...
In a great land, people lived a good life. They worked hard all day and were out in the sunshine a lot.
They had quality family and leisure time and ate yummy homemade food that was all grown and produced locally in rich, fertile farm land.
The people were very healthy in general. They only needed one town doctor, who would come to your house if you were too sick to travel.
There were no huge drug stores on every block of town and there weren't health food stores with rows of vitamins and minerals and other dietary supplements either.
These people ate fresh, locally grown food that did not require chemical pesticides or preservatives.
They got their vitamins and minerals all in the diet...!
Food is where vitamins and minerals come from.
The body cannot make vitamins and minerals for the most part, so we need to obtain vitamins and minerals in the diet and by helping it with supplements.
Vitamins were discovered as a component of food in the first part of the 1900's.
Scientists and researchers discovered them by observing that there were improvements (or declines) in the health of humans and animals when certain foods were consumed on a regular basis.
Some vitamin and mineral facts:
The number of processes that the body performs in order to maintain itself is pretty mind boggling.
The point is that vitamins and minerals are required to perform these tasks.
The quantity and quality of vitamins and minerals in the diet depends completely on the quality of the food source itself.
Vitamins and minerals are found in both plant and animal foods.
Minerals in food come from the soil that plants are grown in.
Animals eat those plants and that's where the minerals in animal food come from.
If the soil is used over and over and becomes depleted of minerals, and synthetic* fertilizer and pesticides are used, plants absorb these.
We then eat things that don't have very many minerals or vitamins - and also contain toxic stuff from the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
Since vitamins are a natural part of food, the quantity and quality of vitamins in food also depend on the quality of the soil they are grown in, the way animals are raised and how much processing the food has had.
The amount of vitamins and minerals in the diet has virtually disappeared with the rise of mass food production over the past several decades.
It's not the purpose of this article to go into the methods and practices of mass food production and distribution - you can find information for yourself if you're interested.
It's enough to say that you cannot get the nutrition your body needs from commercially produced and processed food.
That is why organic food is in great demand now - because the production of organic food is pretty much like it was in "that great land not so long ago" that I described earlier.
We are becoming more and more aware that many health problems can be traced back to the poor nutritional quality of the food we've been eating.
"Organic" in this sense means grown and raised without using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or hormones.
It refers to allowing animals to roam freely out in the open, fresh air instead of crammed into pens, eating stuff I can't describe and other super gross things.
(I don't care for horror stories and to be honest with you, I almost puked when I found out how animals are raised for mass food production. So beware, it is pretty freakin' horrible.)
It has been, and continues to be, validated by food science research that there are significantly higher amounts of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet when you eat organic food compared to "conventionally" mass-produced food.
And organic food tastes ohhhhhh, so incredibly good!
Because the food supply of today contains less nutrition than it did even 50 years ago, vitamin and mineral supplements are usually necessary to make up for this deficiency.
I am not providing a chart or list of vitamins and minerals and what they do for a couple of reasons.
Vitamins and minerals work
as a part of a "nutrition team" - they aren't
separate from food and they don't work very well by themselves.
If you were to take just a vitamin B complex supplement, for example, you could create an imbalance of the other nutrients that your body needs and defeat the purpose!
This is not to say that individual supplements are bad
for you at all, just that they work best together.
It would make for a long and boring article on vitamins and minerals in the diet to attempt to list them here.
You can find all sorts of information about specific nutrients on the Web.
It is far, far more important to understand that your body requires them all, not just some of them, to function properly and to be healthy.
The purpose of this article is to increase the understanding that vitamins and minerals are a part of food and that they assist the body to break down and utilize that food.
They are also not a replacement for food and do not, by themselves, provide energy.
Food sources, such as spirulina and chlorella, are considered to have all the nutrients needed by the human body.
Thus, the best sources of vitamins and minerals in the diet are found in these kinds of foods, since they are nutritionally complete and have naturally balanced amounts of nutrients.
Because they are so intensely packed with the nutrients that the body needs, they are often called "superfoods."
I hope this information has given you a good overview and better understanding of how vitamins and minerals in the diet fit into the whole subject of good health.
À santé! (A toast in French meaning "To health!")
Editors note: If you are interested in further information about vitamins and minerals in the diet and nutrition, I suggest this site as a good starting place.
health begins with good information."