You want to live an active, productive life and have strong bones and teeth, with bright, sparkling eyes, soft skin, good digestion and overall perfect health. Vitamins and minerals make this scenario possible. Although a host of vitamins and minerals perform crucial tasks in the body, three vitamins and minerals are essential for your overall health -- and also help keep your heart healthy.
The Three Vital Vitamins and Minerals
The three vitamins that are vital for heart and overall health are vitamin D, folic acid -- which is also known as vitamin M or B9 -- and vitamin C. The three vital minerals -- calcium, magnesium and selenium -- prevent chronic diseases and aid in cardiovascular health. You only need these vitamins and minerals in small quantities, but to stay healthy, you should consume these compounds through your diet on a daily basis, since your body cannot synthesize them.
Why They're Important
Vitamin D and calcium are bone-health nutrients. Without vitamin D, calcium from foods would not be absorbed in your intestine. Folic acid helps form red blood cells and prevents certain congenital defects in the fetus. Vitamin C facilitates healthy skin, bones and teeth, and also helps your body absorb iron from foods. Magnesium is a mineral and is involved in functions like digestion, absorption, protein synthesis and nerve health. Selenium is a trace mineral distributed widely in foods and protects cells from damage.
Heart Health Benefits
Apart from bone health, vitamin D can help prevent chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Folic acid helps reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering the level of an amino acid called homocysteine in your blood. At high levels, homocysteine can damage coronary arteries by increasing formation of blood clots. Both vitamin C and selenium act as scavengers, mopping up substances that damage the healthy cells and play a curative role in diseases resulting from atherosclerosis. Calcium and magnesium regulate heartbeat and blood pressure.
Eat a Nutritious, Varied Diet
A diverse diet provides all nutrients, according to the "Journal of Nutrition." Whole grains, eggs, low-fat dairy products, liver, fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for your body. Since an excess intake of these nutrients can be toxic, it is important to not go overboard with supplements or natural food sources. You only need supplements if you do not consume enough of these vitamins and minerals in your diet but supplements are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle and diet. The USDA states that you should eat the recommended amounts from each food group in nutrient-dense forms, as the best approach to building a healthy eating pattern.
- Nutrition In Clinical Practice; David L. Katz
- Advanced Nutrition; Subhadra Sheshadri