Understanding Vitamins and Minerals

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Your  Systematic Health Needs

To answer the question, “Are vitamins and minerals essential for your health?” understanding vitamins and minerals, as well as the human body’s structure and functions, is necessary.

The adult human body, a living, breathing organism, is a composite of a structural makeup of 206 bones connected by tendons. ligaments and cartilage, and billions of coordinated functions. In fact, there are so many functions that the major ones are broken up into systems for better comprehension:

  • The circulatory system (heart, blood, blood vessels,arteries and veins)  moves blood, nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and hormones.
  • The digestive system (mouth, esophagus, liver and pancreas, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus) enables food breakdown and absorption, and removes waste.
  • The endocrine system (eight major glands) secretes hormones into the blood to regulate metabolism, growth and sexuality.
  • The immune system (lymph nodes, the spleen, bone marrow, lymphocytes [specialized cells], the thymus, and leukocytes [white blood cells] defends against bacteria, viruses and other harmful pathogens.
  • The lymphatic system (lymph nodes, lymph ducts and lymph vessels) makes and moves lymph, a clear fluid consisting of white blood cells that fight infections.
  • The nervous system (brain, spinal cord and central nerves) determines voluntary (controlled) and involuntary  (automatic) actions via outer nerves that connect to every body part.
  • The muscular system, about 650 muscles, aids in movement, including blood flow and functions connected with bones, organs and the heart.
  • The reproductive system makes possible human reproduction through the male penis and testes which produce sperm, and the female vagina, uterus, and ovaries which produce eggs.
  • The respiratory system trachea, diaphragm and lungs with the breathing process, take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.
  • The urinary system eliminates urea, a by-product of broken down foods, with two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, two sphincter muscles and the urethra.
  • The integumentary (covering) system — skin, hair and nails — is the body’s largest organ and first line of defense against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.

Vitamins and Minerals

Every single one of the human body systems and their functions rely upon two important classes of body fuel, vitamins and minerals, engaged in a vital ballet of epic proportion that sustains living organisms.

A relatively minor player, which makes more than a cameo appearance in this staged production, namely protein, is a nutrient (a source of nutrition — nutrition is defined, for our purpose here, as “what happens when organic and inorganic substances pass through the lips and skin.” More on that one later.)

“Although they are considered micro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals differ in basic ways. Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid. Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure.”

“So why does this matter? It means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume. But it’s tougher to shuttle vitamins from food and other sources into your body because cooking, storage, and simple exposure to air can inactivate these more fragile compounds.” — ref: http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/vitamins and minerals.htm

Therein lies the problem and the solution to staying alive. Side-by-side these two ingredient classes seem to answer the question of whether vitamins and minerals are essential for your health, but they aren’t the entire answer. To accommodate the full answer to this important query, this blog entry is now designated as “Part One” of a multi-part blog series that will explore basic data about the human body. Features will cover different functions and their relations to vitamins and minerals. The series promotes understanding vitamins and minerals, as well as the human body’s relationship to them.

To read more about that living, breathing organism that you call “home” — some call it their “ID card” — for a lifetime, the human body, stay tuned for each weekly post by returning here. For now, we’ll leave you with this from Woman’sHealth magazine:

“Vitamins and minerals are essential to life—and we mean essential. Without them, we couldn’t think or even breathe, much less digest food or walk the dog.”

© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule and Desiree Lotz. All Rights Reserved.

(PLEASE NOTE: As always, the information provided here, and the links to information, are intended to inform our readers on an educational level. We are not doctors and we do not diagnose conditions of wellness or illness. We recommend that you consult with a licensed, knowledgeable physician regarding your health.)