Vitamins & Minerals—Who Needs Them? Popeye knew about vitamins and minerals in spinach. Vitamins are substances that your body needs, but can't make itself. You need vitamins to stay healthy, avoid disease, and keep all the organs in your body working well. Vitamins are necessary for energy. There are 13 essential vitamins. Minerals, like vitamins, do many things for your body, like strengthening your teeth and bones, and maintaining body fluid balance. You need about 20 minerals in a balanced diet. They come in two forms: You need a lot of macro-minerals (calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, sodium chloride); and a smaller amount of micro-minerals (iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, copper, iodine and others). Minerals are essential for good health. If, for example, you don't have enough sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium, you might suddenly get muscle cramps. The best way to get vitamins and minerals is by eating a wide variety of whole, natural foods. Many vitamins and minerals are toxic if taken in large doses —so be careful. High doses of vitamin A and D, for instance, can cause problems. Not enough Vitamin D can cause bones to soften and weaken; Vitamin A deficiencies cause bad night vision and lowered resistance to infection. How to Get Vitamins and Minerals in Your Diet The best way to be sure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals is to eat a diet with at least 5 –7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with a moderate amount of protein, and a small amount of fats. Sometimes people supplement their diets with vitamins and minerals to make sure they're getting the right amounts. Nearly half of all American adults take vitamin pills every day. The body can't tell the difference between vitamins made in a lab or that come from plants and/or animals, so both are equally effective. However, no supplement is a good replacement for eating a balanced diet. Read about vitamins minerals and learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle at BeingGirl.com.