Science Past, Present and Future
   Home      Chemistry Basic Facts & Insights into the Wonderful World of Vitamins and Minerals

Chemistry Basic Facts & Insights into the Wonderful World of Vitamins and Minerals

© Donald Reinhardt, Sept 10, 2013
Vitamins and minerals are essential for life and healthy living. Here you will find a list which introduces you to the standard  composition and basic functions of  complete and healthy vitamin and mineral-element formulas. This brief  introduction will enable you to understand some basic science and chemistry of vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Vitamin and Mineral Pills or Tablets
Humans and animals obtain vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat and digest. Therefore, if you eat a healthy and balanced diet you do not need a vitamin pill to meet your daily needs.
Unfortunately, some people do not eat a proper and balanced diet, so a vitamin-mineral pill may fill the gap when there is a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Vitamin Content of Many Vitamin Pill Mixtures:

A, C, D, E, K, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), B6, B12 (cyanocobalamin), Folic Acid, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid

Mineral Content of Vitamin Pills:

 Calcium, Phosphorous, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium

Molybdenum, Chloride, Potassium, Boron, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium

Additional Vitamin-Mineral Pill Components:

Lutein, Lycopene

Basic Facts and Concepts of Vitamin and Mineral-Element Functions and Uses  

A. Minerals: What are they and what do they do?

Minerals are simple elements.
Elements are the simple, basic forms of matter. Matter is anything that occupies space and has mass. Elements are basic, fundamental matter that includes metals and non-metals.

Elements are found naturally in the soil, rocks, water, animals and plants and other forms of life such as bacteria and fungi. Our bodies are full of useful minerals and non-metals. Our bodies are made from about 30 different kinds of naturally-occurring elements.

Some elements such as calcium and phosphorous are involved in the basic body skeleton of animals. Calcium and phosphorous are found in bones and teeth.

The minerals potassium and sodium are involved in ionic and osmotic balance and nerve electrical impulses and conduction.

Phosphorous combined with oxygen in the form of phosphate is part of the structure of cell membranes and is also involved in energy transfer reactions in the form of ATP.

Minerals are designated clearly among all the elements listed in the Periodic Table of Elements which was formulated by the Russian scientist Mendeleev.

Vitamins: Their Role and Importance

As mentioned previously vitamins are important for good health. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and humans all need vitamins and good nutrition provides these important vitamins.

Vitamins were discovered sometimes as a result of diseases like scurvy and pellagra.These two diseases are caused by vitamin deficiencies. In the days of sailing ships and long journeys, sailors often bled from their mouth and gums due to vitamin C deficiency. England solved the problem of vitamin-deficiency bleeding among  sailors when the admiralty ordered that all ships carry limes, lemons and grapefruits to supply the magical, anti-scurvy component which was later identified as Vitamin C. The word used for British sailors was “limeys” because they used lime juice (or lemon or grapefruit juice) to prevent scurvy.

Vitamins A, C and E are important anti-oxidants which prevent cell, tissue and organ damage.

Vitamin A is important for retinal and eye functions.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) functions for red blood cell production.

Niacin (B2) is important in the molecule NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinulceotide). NAD functions in electron and hydrogen transport for many important cellular reactions and biochemical events.

How Safe are Vitamins?

Vitamins are safe when used as directed. Typically, no more than one multi-vitamin is all that is needed each day. The brand One-A-Day Vitamins promotes this concept by their brand name and advertising. So, the basic rule of thumb is not more than one multi-vitamin pill each day.

Can Too Much or Too Many Vitamins be Harmful?

Yes, an overload of vitamins is not good. The human body, for example, excretes excess minerals and vitamins via the kidney filtration process. All excess and unnecessary additional chemicals and biochemicals are passed into the urine and out of the body. Therefore, taking more vitamins than anyone needs is a waste of time and money. Vitamin and mineral overloads cause extra effort and hard work by the kidneys to excrete these chemicals.

Basic Question: Who Makes and Produces the Best Vitamin-Mineral Formulations?

That is a good question and here at ScienceSuperSchool we think that the best vitamins are compounded, formulated and made in the USA or Canada. Good, quality manufacturers in the USA and Canada control and assay (analyze) everything individually before it is put in a vitamin-mineral pill. Also, these manufacturers do quality control of each batch formulation after mixing and production of the final tablet or pill product. These are high standards which should be expected and demanded by all consumers. GMP or Good Manufacturing Practice contributes to quality and safe products.
Centrum, Alive, One-A-Day, Flintstones Vtamins are some brands that meet those GMP and quality criteria. The true manufacturers that meet these high standards include, but are not limited to, these mentioned here: Bayer HealthCare LLC, Nature Made Pharmaceutical Products, Pfizer and Spring Valley.

How Can You or I Get More Specific Information on Vitamins, Minerals and Medical Products?

That is another good question. We can get answers to questions about a particular product, drug or device by reading the label and looking for the 1-800 number listed for consumer information or customer service. That usually works well. So, look on the back label and toward the bottom there is a Consumer Affairs number listed.

In summary, multivitamins are helpful and useful and when used appropriately they promote healthy bodies and better living. Be wise and always be thoughtful.
Disclaimer: This article and site provides basic information only and is not a replacement for professional advice from a medical doctor, nurse or state-licensed health practitioner.
Reference and Source
USDA. Vitamins and Minerals. Accessed, Sept. 10, 2013.