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Vitamins and minerals are essential for life. As well as helping to regulate our metabolism they play a key role in the complex biochemical processes that give us energy from the breakdown of food that we ingest. Apart from Vitamin D, which can be made with the aid of sunlight, you will derive everything else from the food you eat.

They can be either water-soluble (Vitamins B and C), or oil-soluble (Vitamins A, D, E and K). Water-soluble cannot be stored in our bodies, whereas oil-soluble are stored in fatty tissue and the liver. Our bodies should therefore be provided with water-soluble ones daily.

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How do we get them?

Vitamins and minerals must be taken in appropriate quantities so as not to upset the body's natural balance. Ideally, these should come from fresh and healthy foods.

However, sometimes we need to use supplements in a tablet, powder or liquid form. These should not be considered as a simple alternative to a good healthy balanced diet. If supplements must be taken, if possible, they should be natural whole food supplements (derived from food sources), as opposed to synthetic supplements (produced as chemicals in laboratories). All supplements work best when they are combined with food and medical studies show that oil-soluble vitamins should be taken before meals, water-soluble after.

On the following pages, with the help of the Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA), we have set out the basic information about what they are important for, their sources, effects any deficiency may cause and additional information - where appropriate. This is not an exhaustive guide but may help you to understand the differences between all the different types.

We have also teamed up with our Vitamins partner, Nutravida, to enable you to purchase any of the featured Vitamins online. This is signifcantly cheaper than from the shops, and we have fraud guarantees from our partner that your credit card details are safe.

** N.B. GymUser.co.uk does not invite, or intend for people to self diagnose using any of the following information. This is intended as purely an information source to help readers understand the role of vitamins in a healthy diet. GymUser.co.uk has also chosen not to recommend daily (RDA) or optimal daily allowances (ODA) as this information may be misleading.

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