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What are the essential micronutrients?

There are thirteen essential vitamins (which are classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble) and seventeen essential minerals which all interact with your cell enzymes to regulate a variety of essential bodily functions. No micronutrient can single-handedly change the way your body or organs work so we need a balanced mix of them to bring it all together.

Fat-soluble vitamins need to dissolve in fat before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream as they do not dissolve in water (another reason why we need fat in your diets). These fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in your bodies in the liver and fatty tissues and so they only need to be taken 2-3 times per week. However, because these vitamins can be stored in the body, excessively high intakes of them can be toxic or harmful. The fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E and K.

Water-soluble vitamins can dissolve in water. Although water-soluble vitamins have many tasks in the body, one of the most important one is helping to free up all the energy that is found in your food. You cannot store water-soluble vitamins and so any excess amounts are usually removed from your body through your urine. Because of this, water soluble vitamins must typically be consumed every day. The water-soluble vitamins are Vitamin C, Vitamin H and all the Vitamin B’s (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Pyridoxin, Folic Acid and Cobalamin).

Finally, minerals occur naturally in non-living things such as water, rocks, soil as well as plants and animals. The minerals in your diet are essential for a variety of bodily functions and are important for building strong bones and teeth, blood, skin, hair, nerve function and muscles as well as for your metabolic processes such as those that turn the food we eat into energy. The minerals that the body needs are calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulphur and certain trace minerals (chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc).

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