Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that every cell needs. Vitamins can function like hormones or as antioxidants. Minerals are essential to important bodily functions such as producing energy, growing, and healing. Minerals are required for fluid balance, development, nervous system maintenance .Minerals and vitamins, function as coenzymes and participate in enzymatic reactions in the body. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can affect the brain many different ways. The brain begins to develop in utero, and malnutrition of the pregnant mother can affect the developing fetus. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are caused by poor diet, poor absorption, starvation, infection, and/or damage to the digestive tract. Babies born to mothers who had poor diets may have mental retardation among other problems. The brain develops rapidly for approximately 2 years after birth, and adequate nutrition is vital during this time. The effects of poor nutrition can cause a myriad of problems both immediate and later in life, however not all the problems are permanent; some may be remedied with a change in diet. Poor nutrition can combine with environmental factors and cause problems that may be difficult to detect for scientists. Because the study of how specific nutrients affect behavior and brain development are relatively new, the affect that specific nutrients have on intelligence and mood are skeptical at best. Ethical restrictions stop scientists from restricting specific nutrients to study the effect on the brain ad behavior. Most information comes from studies done over periods of time when there was famine or starvation, and many nutrients were missing. Everyone’s body needs a different amount of each nutrient and may respond differently in the presence or absence of the nutrient. Vitamins fall into two categories, water soluble and fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins are not store by the body, while fat soluble vitamins are. Even though they are not stored in the body, it is not safe to ingest an abundance of water soluble vitamins. Too much of certain vitamins may cause irreversible damage. For example, too much B6 can lead to nerve damage, too much niacin may cause flushing, too much vitamin C may cause kidney stones, and too much folic acid can hide a B12 deficiency. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are the fat-soluble vitamins .Because these vitamins are stored by the body, over time they can accumulate to dangerous levels. Vitamin A in excess can cause birth defects, too much vitamin K can prevent normal blood clotting, and too much vitamin E may increase the risk for hemorrhaging. Vitamin D is also a hormone and can be tolerated in higher levels in the body. Some diseases have been directly linked to the absence of a specific vitamin. Such as rickets (vitamin D), beriberi (thiamin), pellagra (niacin), iron deficiency anemia (iron), and vitamin K deficiency. Minerals are needed in varying amounts in the body are divided into macrominreals and microminerals based on the amount needed. Marcominerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and phosphorus, and have a recommended daily allowance. Microminerals include boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, sulfur, fluoride and zinc. Like vitamins, minerals can cause illnesses when deficient or abundant. Too much of a good thing: Water soluble Vitamins
Consuming an abundance of vitamins and mineral can have negative effects. There is something called the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for certain nutrients. This is a level that is the highest amount of the nutrient that can be consumed without small chance of causing negative health effects. These UL limits take into account nutrients that come from the diet through natural and fortified foods, as well as supplements. Exceeding the UL limits can cause nutrients to interfere with normal body functions. Vitamin B6 is needed in the body for more than 100 enzymatic reactions, and for brain...
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