VITAMINS are essential molecules for growth, physical well-being and efficiency of the organism. In fact, they strengthen the nervous structures, counteract the infections and damage from free radicals. They also act as growth factors, ensuring proper bone development and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, are important for the production of red blood cells and visual pigments and regulate coagulation.
They are subdivided into water-soluble vitamins, which means that they dissolve in water, and fat-soluble vitamins, which dissolve in fats.
All those of group B and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are water-soluble vitamins.
In general, the B group vitamins are involved, such as coenzymes (ie they favor the functions of enzymes), in almost all metabolic and food transformation processes, thus allowing the use of sugars, fats and proteins to obtain energy. Therefore they become fundamental in the harmonious development of all the structures of the organism, including nervous tissue, and especially in the age of growth.
Rich foods of this class of vitamins are mainly in those of animal origin.
Vitamin C participates in the synthesis of collagen (a fundamental component protein of supporting tissues), and has high antioxidant activity: it is able to counteract the action of free radicals, which are involved in aging and in many degenerative diseases. We find it mainly in green leafy vegetables and vegetables as well as in citrus and sour fruit.
The fat-soluble vitamins are mainly vitamins A, D, E and K. Only vitamin D can be synthesized by our body with exposure to sunlight, while the others must be introduced with food.
The fat-soluble vitamins strengthen the nervous structures (vitamins D and E), counteract infections and are above all known for their antioxidant power.
In particular, vitamin D has the function of stimulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestine, favoring the mineralization of the bone matrix. Furthermore, they guarantee the correct development of bones (vitamin D) and reduce the risk of osteoporosis; they are important for the production of red blood cells and visual pigments (vitamin A) and regulate coagulation (vitamin K).
Vitamin A is found in: green leafy vegetables, milk and dairy products, yellow-orange or dark green fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin D: cod liver oil, eggs, fish.
Vitamin E: olive oil and vegetable oils in general, wheat germ, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts.
MINERALS are essential substances for the correct development of tissues and organs, for the production of energy starting from fats and carbohydrates and for maintaining the hydrosaline balance, which in turn is fundamental for muscle contraction, nervous system function and maintaining cellular tone and vitality.
Those present in our body in greater quantities (for this reason defined as "macroelements") are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorine and sulfur.
Iron, copper, zinc, fluorine, iodine, selenium, chromium, cobalt, manganese, silicon, nickel and vanadium are, on the other hand, called "microelements" (or trace elements) since they are present in the organism only in traces, being in any case indispensable for the correct performance of innumerable fundamental biochemical functions and reactions.
Calcium, for example, is a fundamental and irreplaceable component of the skeleton and teeth, it plays a key role in muscle contraction and nervous transmission.
Sodium and chlorine are involved in the digestive process.
Sodium and potassium also regulate arterial pressure: the former increasing it, the latter reducing it.
Zinc and selenium are essential to ensure the efficiency of antioxidant reactions that detoxify the body from free radicals and other reactive oxygen species
Fluorine is essential for tooth enamel formation and helps to combat tooth decay, while iodine is essential for proper thyroid function.
Iron, on the other hand, is the key component of hemoglobin, on which the transport and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and tissues depend: in fact, without iron, human and animal respiration would not be possible.