Vitamins and Minerals-The Energy Releasing Nutrients

Dear Friends,

I’d like to take the time to devote the next two articles to focusing on vitamins and minerals.  I’m going to start by saying that vitamins are essential to the human body and must be supplied in minute amounts in order to sustain life.  Also, for the most part, vitamins cannot be manufactured by the human body and must therefore be obtained from the foods in our diet, or if necessary, through supplementation.  Despite the fact that many people believe vitamins themselves can provide energy to the body, they function as bio-regulatory substances and cannot be metabolized for energy.  As previously mentioned in previous articles, the energy value of food is measured in calories.  Since vitamins themselves do not contain calories, they cannot supply energy directly to the body.  Many vitamins, however, are necessary for the release of energy, which is derived from the energy nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats).

Certain vitamins are eaten in their “pro-vitamin” or “precursor” form and are then converted to their active form.  For example, beta carotene, the natural form of Vitamin A must be converted to retinol before it can be used by the body.  Vitamins are organized into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble.  Vitamins A, D, E and K are classified as fat soluble vitamins whereas the B vitamins and vitamin C are classified as water-soluble vitamins.  Fat-soluble vitamins are stored primarily in the liver and adipose tissue and require protein carriers in the blood such as chylomicrons for their transport within the body.  Because of the ability of fat-soluble vitamins to be stored in the liver, they do have the potential to become toxic if taken in excess.  Water soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are more easily destroyed during food processing and cooking.  These vitamins travel unattached in the blood, are excreted in the urine, and do not have the same storage potential within the body as the fat soluble vitamins.  consequently, it is not likely that the water-soluble vitamins will become toxic unless taken in exceptionally high doses.

Vitamins also play a very important role with regulatory proteins called enzymes.  Enzymes are made of two parts, one part is a protein molecule and the other part is a coenzyme.  The coenzyme part is usually a vitamin or it may contain a vitamin, or it may be a molecule that has been manufactured from a vitamin.

Nevertheless, enzymes are responsible for many biochemical reactions within the body such as tissue growth, metabolism, cellular reproduction and the digestion of food.  Most enzymes remain within the cell and function as catalysts, in other words, they initiate chemical reactions, which allow other work within the cell to continue.  Since vitamins play an intrinsic role in cellular metabolism, a lack of one or more may cause a variety of metabolic aberrations.

For example, a cell that is poorly nourished may actually contain enzymes without the proper coenzyme (vitamin) part making them nonfunctional.  Although an adequate number of functional enzymes may exist for the cell to continue working for a long period of time, the cell will eventually  begin to function more slowly either until it receives proper nourishment or until it dies.  this procedure may explain why vitamin deficiencies do not take place overnight or over a couple of days; instead many weeks or even months are required for signs of a vitamin deficiency to appear.

Tomorrow we will discuss Minerals!

William Smith is the President / CEO and Founder of the INTRAFITT Corporation which was established in California in 1992. Will has won more than twenty-eight bodybuilding championships and is also known for his role as “THUNDER” on television’s American Gladiator between 1990 – 1992. He is a National and International Speaker on Performance Nutrition and Exercise Science.

Visit us on the web at www.intrafitt.com

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