Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that work together to support some of the most fundamental processes in the body. From strengthening bones and healing wounds to boosting the immune system and converting food into energy, vitamins and minerals play a vital role in keeping us healthy. Not only do they act independently, but they also have a synergistic effect when combined. For example, zinc is beneficial to health when combined with fat-soluble vitamin A.
A study that brought together the results of 68 randomized trials with more than 230,000 participants found that people who received vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin A had a lower risk of death than those who took a placebo. This is because when a vitamin C or E molecule makes a sacrifice, it can allow a crucial protein, gene, or cell membrane to escape damage. Together, this vitamin quartet helps keep the eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and nervous system in good condition. The benefits of vitamins and minerals may also extend beyond their role in absorption.
Research suggests that they may have a more direct effect on disease processes and the immune system than previously believed. Vitamin D is an important example of this. In small quantities, it is absorbed with the active help of vitamin D and several of its metabolic descendants. This mineral is essential for keeping bones strong and healthy, as it helps absorb phosphorus and magnesium.
Trace elements are also important for our health. Although they make up only a tiny fraction of our body weight – a thimble could easily contain them all – their contributions are essential for our wellbeing. Vitamin B6, along with selenium, helps the body absorb calcium, while folate needs vitamin B12 to be absorbed, stored and metabolized. When it comes to taking vitamins and minerals, it's important to focus on what your body needs most.
As you gather more information about your health, you'll be able to identify which vitamins and minerals will benefit you the most. Finally, avoid taking “fat-soluble” vitamins – including vitamins A, E, K, and D – on an empty stomach.