Vitamins and Minerals A-Z

With the exception of vitamin D, which your body can synthesize after a few minutes of sun exposure, vitamins and minerals can only be obtained through a healthy diet or supplements.

What Should You Take and How Much?

It only takes a little bit of each one every day to keep you healthy, but how much do you need?

Vitamins play a role in many biological functions, help your body absorb and use minerals and other nutrients, prevent damage from free radicals, help you obtain energy from the food you eat, and are vital to hormone production.

Some vitamins, particularly A, D, E, and K, are fat soluble. This means they should be taken with a bit of fat for your body to absorb and use them. When you get more of these vitamins than you need, the excess is stored in your fat cells, so it is easier to get too much of these.

Vitamin C and those belonging to the B family are water soluble. Washing and cooking your food removes some of these vitamins. If you get more of these vitamins than you need, the excess is processed by the kidneys and excreted. This makes it more difficult to overdose on these vitamins, but also means you need to be sure to get these vitamins every day.

Before vitamins were discovered, deficiency diseases such as rickets and scurvy were common. Today, these diseases are rare, but still occur.

The Importance of Minerals

Minerals also play a crucial role in a variety of physiological functions. Minerals are needed for more than 600 enzymes and are needed by every part of your body. You need a significant amount of some minerals, more than 100 milligrams per day. Because you need more of them, they are known as macrominerals. Other minerals, known as microminerals, are needed in much smaller amounts.

Minerals are absorbed by plants from the soil they are grown in, which are then eaten by animals. Because of this, the actual mineral content of any food depends on the soil in which it was grown or, in the case of meat, the food the animal was fed. Modern farming has developed methods of producing large amounts of food, but has done so at the cost of some of the nutritional value of the food.

Due to farming methods that deplete the soil of minerals, much of the produce found in stores contain significantly less nutritional value than the same foods would have contained a few decades ago. For example, the calcium in broccoli and pineapple is about half or less, the vitamin C in cauliflower is a bit more than half, in sweet peppers it’s a third less, watercress only contains about a fifth of the iron, and many oranges are nearly devoid of the vitamin C for which they are so well known.

Much of the food available on the supermarket shelves has travelled hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles over a course of several days to get to you. Because of this, it is often harvested when it isn’t quite ripe, then ripens on the journey.

Dietary Vitamins and Minerals in Processed Foods

Processed food, such as flour, white rice, and sugar, have had much of the nutrients removed or destroyed. Some of those vitamins and minerals are replaced before the food is sold, but the nutritional value is much less than that of fresh food. Cereals, bread, milk, orange juice, and margarine are among these fortified foods that have had vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, and D, along with iron and calcium added.

Diets that focus on limiting or eliminating certain types of foods, such as low-carb, vegetarian, or low-protein diets do not provide all of the vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Studies have found most people consume diets that are lacking in many nutrients, which is causing symptoms of deficiency.

Choosing Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Supplements are a simple way to compensate for the falling standards of our food and the modern lifestyle. True deficiency diseases are uncommon, but this does not mean we don’t need supplements to help our health.

Supplements can’t compensate for poor food choices, and they don’t replace missed meals. Buy the best supplement you can afford. Cheap does not necessarily mean poor quality, but may come with fewer ingredients. Check the label for ingredient range. Including herbs or cod liver oil is not necessarily a good plan as there needs to be reasonable amounts of such “extras” to have any positive effect.

Liquids or granules get into the bloodstream quickly and efficiently. They are the best but also the most expensive. Tablets are less costly and less efficient at delivering the goods. Capsules are in between – a bit more expensive than tablets, but gentler on sensitive stomachs and release the nutrients quicker. Prolonged action or time-release tablets and capsules tend to pass through the gut too quickly to dissolve properly.

Consider the physical size of the tablet or capsule. Swallowing an enormous bomb of a capsule puts some people off. Make sure you are capable of getting it down.

How Much?

The supplement label lists ingredients in grams (G), milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg) then gives this amount as a percentage of the RDA – the Recommended Daily Allowance. This is a measure of the minimum amount of a vitamin or mineral the body needs to avoid a deficiency disease. Please remember it’s not the ideal, nor the optimum but the absolute minimum. The better supplements give you 100% of the RDA in each dose.

Side Effects

Stop taking the supplement if you feel worse or have unexpected allergic reactions and side effects. Tell your doctor or health professional and ask for advice.

There is a wide safety margin between what most supplements deliver and what would be required to cause side effects or toxic reactions. As an example, it would take at least 100 times the RDA of vitamin D to cause a possible toxic effect.

Minerals can and do cause more toxicity problems than vitamins. But, a multi-mineral supplement is unlikely to cause such problems since they contain only small amounts of each mineral.

Single mineral supplements can be helpful if a particular mineral is extremely deficient, e.g. iron in anaemia. But if they are not needed they can give sudden excesses that unbalance other vitamin levels and could cause more problems than they solve.

Find a Vitamin, Mineral or Botanic


Acai Berry

African Mango

Agnus Castus


Aloe Vera

Alpha Lipoic Acid

AZ 40+ Multivitamin


Betaine HCl


Biotin – vitamin h

Black Cohosh

Brewers Yeast


Bromelain & Papain



Celery Seed





CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)

Cod Liver Oil

CoEnzyme Q10

Collagen (Marine)


Cranberry Juice


Devil’s Claw

Evening Primrose Oil





Flaxseed Oil

Folic Acid

Garcinia Cambogia


Ginger Root

Gingko Biloba


Glucomannan (Konjac Fibre)


Grapeseed Extract

Green Buckwheat

Green Coffee

Green Lipped Mussel

Green Tea




Linseed Oil






Omega 3

Peppermint Oil



Probiotic Plus

Raspberry Leaf

Red Clover

Relaxation Formula


Royal Jelly


Sage Leaf



Siberian Ginseng


Slippery Elm



Vitamin A

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Vitamin B3 – Niacin

Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B6 – Pyroxidine

Vitamin B7 – Biotin

Vitamin B9 – Folate

Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin

Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid

Vitamin D – Calciferol

Vitamin E – Tocopherol

Vitamin H

Vitamin K