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Vitamins and Minerals

Apart from carbohydrates, protein, fat, humans need vitamins, minerals and trace elements (micronutrients) to regulate their metabolic processes.

Vitamins and essential minerals are involved in numerous metabolic processes. They play, inter alia, a major part in the electrolyte and water metabolism, and are indispensable for the immune system as well as for the development and function of bones, muscles and teeth. They are needed for the visual process and the nervous system and are also involved in blood coagulation and processes of reproduction, cell division and differentiation.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds which the human organism cannot or only insufficiently produce, apart from a few exceptions. Since they are indispensable for humans, vitamins must be taken up through diet. They are formed by plants and microorganisms and are mainly contained in plant-based food – fruit, vegetables, cereals. They reach the animal organisms through feed and are therefore also in meat, fish, eggs, milk and products made of them. Vitamins are classified according to their solubility.

Classification of the 12 Vitamins According to their Solubility

Water-Soluble Vitamins Fat-Soluble Vitamins
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Panthotenic acid
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Beta carotene (provitamin A)
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin

 

What are minerals?

Minerals are inorganic nutritive elements which occur in plant-based and animal foods. The human body depends on the supply of certain so-called essential minerals. Since the organism needs them in different amounts, they are subdivided into essential major and / or trace elements.

Essential Major and Trace Elements

Major elements Trace elements
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Chromium
  • Molybdenum
  • Cobalt
  • Nickel

 

Possible undersupply or oversupply with vitamins and minerals

In Germany undersupplies with vitamins and minerals are very rare in healthy people.

Insufficient supply with these substances can occur through a low supply because of unilateral diet, reduction diet, a reduced intestinal absorption (in the event of illness) or higher needs (eg for pregnant and breastfeeding women).

An oversupply of vitamins and essential minerals through normal diet with natural foods such as fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, cheese is almost excluded. However, if high dose food supplements and / or fortified foods are combined or consumed in a non controlled manner, there can be high supplies which may be harmful.

BfR determines maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals

Since excessively high amounts of vitamins and essential minerals can be harmful in terms of nutrition physiologiy and toxicology, BfR has elaborated recommendations on their maximum amounts in food supplements and fortified foods. They aim at restricting the nutrient supply in particular through these two food groups to a tolerable measure.

The maximum amounts for the addition of vitamins and minerals to individual products proposed by BfR comply with the upper intake levels (UL) devised by the European Food Safety Authorty (EFSA) for the respective substance. This is the highest amount which in the event of a chronic daily supply of a nutrient from all sources does not involve negative helath effects with a high probability.

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