Your A to Z of Complementary Health & Healing


Vitamins and Minerals

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Taking your daily Vitamins for perfect health

The stress and tension of daily living, combined with a diet that consists mainly of convenience foods has led to a number of poor health conditions in our society. More and more people are finding alternative ways to improve health and bring balance back into the body by supplementing their diet with vitamins and minerals.

There are five main Vitamins and between six and eighteen minerals and trace elements that have been identified and recognised as essential nutrients.

Vitamin C is essential for building a healthy immune system and has been known to decrease the risk of cancer of the cervix, pancreas, mouth, breasts and colon. Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, bleeding gums, irritability, aching muscles and weakness. Those who smoke, take aspirin, drink excessively, are exposed to environmental pollutants like exhaust fumes, take the contraceptive pill and are stressed will benefit from Vitamin C supplementation.

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause and has also been used for treating infertility. Symptoms of deficiency include skin problems, nervous disorders, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome and fluid retention. Mild deficiencies may be common amongst women who take the contraceptive pill or are on hormone replacement therapy because oestrogen destroys vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 levels can also be affected by those who smoke, eat high protein diets and drink alcohol.

Magnesium helps to control the absorption of calcium which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, and promotes a healthy nervous system and metabolism. High consumptions of tea and coffee can deplete magnesium levels in the body. Those suffering from stress, irritable bowel syndrome or individuals who exercise regularly may benefit from the extra magnesium. Symptoms of deficiency include muscle cramps, sugar cravings, fatigue, palpitations, anxiety, high blood pressure, poor circulation and kidney stones.

Iron is essential for the transportation of oxygen in the blood to produce energy and may be more deficient in those suffering from chronic diarrhoea, those who use antacids regularly and menstruating women. Deficiency symptoms include breathlessness, palpitations, some form of deafness, poor resistance to infection, restless leg syndrome, reduced bone density, and anaemia, reduced capacity to work and reduced intellectual capacity.

Along with Vitamin C, zinc plays an important role in protecting the immune system and maintaining the structure and function of all cell membranes. The body is reliant on a regular supply of zinc and high levels of calcium, iron and copper may adversely affect its absorption. Our diets are generally high in calcium but low in zinc. Drinking tea or coffee with meals slows down the absorption of zinc. Deficiency symptoms including white spots on the fingernails, white coating on the tongue, halitosis, hair loss, poor appetite, poor skin and poor immune functioning. Deficiency symptoms may be higher in those taking the contraceptive pill or taking hormone replacement therapy.

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