Essential vitamins and minerals for our health

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for the health of our bodies, and although they do not provide us with energy like other nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), they are involved in important, varied and specific body functions. They are known as micronutrients since they are needed in very small amounts.

Vitamins and minerals are found in food, so it is essential to have a varied and well-balanced diet that provides us with the necessary amounts.

What happens when we have a micronutrient deficiency?

When our body does not receive the amount it needs of some vitamin or mineral, the organs that are lacking it are not able to perform their corresponding functions and different signs or symptoms may appear.

What are the causes of micronutrient deficiency?

Deficiency may be produced by different causes, such as an inadequate or non-varied diet, the consumption of processed, precooked or refined foods, or the excessive consumption of alcohol.

Some periods or specific situations in our lives also generate special needs, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, sports practice, very restrictive slimming diets, a strict vegetarian diet or intestinal diseases that hinder the absorption of certain micronutrients, among others.

How can I notice if I lack any vitamins or minerals?

At first, when the deficit is slight, the “signs” are general or non-specific, and we usually think of other reasons. For instance, if we feel apathetic, tired or irritated, we believe it is due to stress, insomnia, our pace of life, etc. Whereas these signs and some others may indicate that something is wrong. In these cases, we should go to the doctor, as it is the only way to know if there is a deficiency of any micronutrient by means of a blood test.

What signs can I notice if I lack a vitamin or mineral?

Both vitamins and minerals perform several body functions, and in turn, any function or action performed by the cells of a particular tissue or organ needs specific vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the lack of a certain vitamin or mineral may cause several symptoms, and in turn, a single symptom may be due to the lack of several micronutrients.

For instance, B vitamins facilitate reactions in the metabolism of nutrients to obtain energy and are beneficial for the nervous system and the skin, so their lack may cause fatigue, irritability, difficulty falling asleep or skin disorders, among others.

Some signs or symptoms are easily recognizable and, this way, we can remedy them and prevent the deficiency from going further and producing more severe disorders. These are some of the most common ones:

  • Swollen gums that bleed easily, nasal bleeding

Vitamins C and K

Vitamin C helps strengthen the capillary walls. Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting. 


  • Fatigue, tiredness, weakness

Vitamins B1, B12. D, iron and magnesium

They contribute to cellular energy metabolism.


  • Irritability, anxiety, bad mood

Vitamins B1, B6, magnesium 

They are involved in psychological activity.


  • Slow healing of wounds

Vitamin C and zinc

They are necessary for the formation of collagen, which is an essential protein in tissue repair.


  • Lip sores (cheilitis)

Vitamins B2, B6  and iron

They contribute to the maintenance of the skin and mucous membranes.


  • Loss of taste or smell


Zinc is involved in the sensations of taste and smell.


  • Frequent infections

Vitamins A, C and zinc

They are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.


  • Muscle cramps, mainly in the calves, pain or numbness of the muscles

Magnesium and phosphorus

They are involved in muscle activity and nerve impulse transmission.


  • Fragile nails

Vitamins B8 (biotin), A, C, zinc, selenium, iron and calcium

They help maintain the nails in good condition.


  • Fragile hair and hair loss

Vitamin B5, B(biotin), iron, zinc and selenium

They strengthen the hair and enhance hair growth.


  • Dermatitis

Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and A

They contribute to the maintenance of the skin in good condition.


  • Vegan and vegetarian diets

Vitamin B12

This vitamin is obtained exclusively from animal-origin foods, so it is essential to get it by means of supplements.

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