Vitamins and minerals are the essential nutrients that the body can not manufacture but must obtain by consuming in foods or supplements. Vitamins and minerals do not provide energy themselves. However, they do perform many vital functions in the process of converting protein and carbohydrates into fuel the body can use, so eating foods high in vitamins and minerals can make you feel more energetic.
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Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins are water soluble. Excess B and C vitamins not immediately used by the body are flushed out in urine, and a fresh supply must be consumed daily, according to the Colorado State University Extension. B-complex vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. These vitamins act as coenzymes in the digestive process, helping to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates into sugars and amino acids that are used by the body for repairs, building, and energy. Vitamin C assists in healing allowing the body to regain its strength faster after injury, and strengthens blood vessel walls, improving circulation.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble. Excess amounts of these vitamins are stored in body tissue until they are needed. Vitamins A, D and K play a role in bolstering bone strength, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that may protect against cancer and heart disease, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Vitamin E also supports neuromuscular function, while Vitamin A is required for the proper functioning of most bodily organs, according to the University of Rochester Health Services. While these vitamins are not fuel, helping the body to function well can improve a sense of energy and well-being.
Minerals assist in energy-yielding metabolic functions and are essential to good health, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne McKinley Health Center. Iron carries oxygen through the bloodstream to allow muscles and organs to function effectively. Chromium works with insulin to metabolize glucose, the sugar that is the primary fuel for the body. Calcium and potassium are necessary for nerve function and muscle contractions, and potassium plays a vital role in heart function.
Considerations and Warnings
Whole foods, rather than supplements, are the best way to ensure that the body has enough minerals and vitamins to maintain healthy body function and energy. Whole foods provide a wealth of micro-nutrients and other dietary benefits like fiber that are not found in supplements. Taking supplements of some vitamins and minerals may lead to toxicity. Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body, they can build up to toxic levels if too much is consumed before they are used. Consult your physician before taking vitamin and mineral supplements.