Vitamins and minerals have different functions in the body, but may work together at times. Vitamins and minerals are needed to maintain the health of tissue, organs, muscles, bones and blood. In addition to working together for functions within the body, certain vitamins are needed to absorb certain minerals.
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Vitamin D and Calcium
Calcium is a mineral found in most dairy products. This mineral is needed for the protection and development of teeth and bones, nerve transmission, blood clotting and to regulate muscle contractions. The USDA recommends eating at least 3 cups of non-fat or low-fat calcium-rich dairy per day. To absorb calcium, you must consume vitamin D. According to the NIH Osteoperosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, without vitamin D, the body can’t form a hormone called calcitriol, which will contribute to insufficient dietary calcium absorption. If the body doesn’t get enough calcium, it will pull it from the bones.
Vitamin C and Iron
Iron is a mineral that is present in both meat and vegetarian sources. Iron comes in two categories: heme and non-heme. Heme iron sources come from hemoglobin, which is present in meat. Non-heme iron is present in fortified cereals, legumes, and green leafy vegetables. The Office of Dietary Supplements states that heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is better absorbed if eaten with a vitamin C source. TClose to 50 percent of iron in red meat is heme, although you only absorb about 20 to 25 percent of it; non-heme iron makes up 80 to 90 percent of your dietary iron and yet you only absorb about 2 percent of it. Vitamin C helps the absorption of this iron by producing an electron to the iron, which makes it easier to absorb by the body.
Magnesium and Calcium
Magnesium and calcium are minerals that have very specific duties within the body. However, they also have several shared responsibilities. Both minerals work together to regulate contracting and relaxing of the muscles and cell membrane maintenance. Together, these minerals also regulate the contraction and relaxation of capillaries. Lastly, both calcium and magnesium are needed to build strong bones and teeth.
The B-complex group consists of eight vitamins all used together for the overall growth, maintenance and development of the body. This group of vitamins consists of vitamin B-1 and B-2, which work together to support the health of muscles, nerves and the heart; B-3 and B-6, which help to maintain the nervous system; B-5, which influences growth and development; B-7, which helps the body produce hormones; and B-9 and B-12, which both work to produce blood cells. Most B vitamins are found in fortified grains and cereal; however, you can also take a B-complex supplement or a complete multivitamin, which contains them all.