Vitamins and Minerals in Modern Society

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Vitamins and minerals supplementation in modern society
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Heinrich Nel Contents

1. Introduction
2. Background to vitamins
3. History of vitamins
4. Background to minerals
5. Functions of vitamins and minerals
6. RDA of vitamins and minerals
7. Soil depletion
8. Conventional vs. organic farming
9. Vitamin and mineral supplementation
10. Conclusion
11. Appendix 1: The discovery of vitamins and their sources 12. Appendix 2: RDA of water-soluble vitamins
13. Appendix 3: RDA of fat-soluble vitamins
14. Appendix 4: RDA of minerals and others
15. Appendix 5:
Table 1 - Percentage of mineral depletion of soil during the past 100 years by continent Table 2 - Eight-year decline in mineral content of a medium sized apple Graph 1 - Average mineral content in selected vegetables 1914 - 1997 Table 3 - Nutrients in traditional diets compared to 20th century Western diets Table 4 - Changes in the rates of selected reported chronic diseases (1980-1994) 16. Appendix 6: Mineral content changes from 1941 to 1991

Introduction

In modern day society eating habits and daily nutrition has changed a lot since the days of our ancestors. Is our daily nutrition sufficient enough to enable us to live a normal and healthy lifestyle, in other words, does our eating habits supply us with sufficient vitamins and minerals? There is so many factors to consider, what do we eat, how much do we eat, and what affects the quality of food that we eat?

The reason why I chose this specific topic was to determine if a normal diet will give the necessary vitamins and minerals necessary for normal body functions or, is it necessary to supplement with vitamins and minerals?

We are all familiar with the saying, 'You are what you eat', and more than ever, people are focusing on nutrition to help them live healthier, longer and happier lives. Growing evidence suggests that many people suffer from diseases that can be controlled or prevented through diet and lifestyle, and the last fifteen years has seen an explosion of research into the links between nutrition and health. Along with the interest in diet has come a focus on nutritional supplements as people search for ways to feel better and stay healthy.

The supplement business is worth at least $6 billion per annum. As many as 70 percent of people take them at least occasionally, and almost every mall has a health food store filled with products that promise to relieve pain, help you sleep better and boost your health, vitality and virility.

But many people still have questions. What do vitamins and minerals do? Am I getting enough from the food I eat? Should I take supplements? Which ones should I take and how much? Can supplements make me look and feel healthier? Can they prevent diseases? Can they slow the aging process? The answers to these questions are not always clear-cut. There is an almost daily barrage of media reports on new studies, some suggesting that a supplement does you good, others indicating that it may be harmful. The scientific and medical communities are divided on many of these issues making it even harder to sort out truth from media hype. Not to mention the advertisements.

Background to vitamins

A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. A compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on the circumstances and the particular organism. For example, ascorbic acid functions as vitamin C for some animals but not others, and vitamins D and K are required in the human diet only in certain circumstances. The term vitamin does not include other essential nutrients such as dietary minerals, essential fatty...
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