Storing nutrients and deficiencies

It is key to supporting your body to get all the nutrients your need for optimal function. All nutrients are critical as they usually take part in many processes.  Maintaining normal vitamin levels in your body is crucial for all-over wellbeing, both mentally and physically. If you’re not getting enough vitamins from food, then it’s essential to take daily vitamin supplements, in order to avoid vitamin deficiencies that cause fatigue, disorientation, and pain symptoms.

However we need to pay attention to some nutrients for than others, for the simple reason that we need bigger amounts of it or we can’t store it for long periods of time. On the other spectrum we want to avoid an overload of certain vitamins which are stored in the body as this can be very toxic.

 

Let’s have a look at the duration of storing Vitamins and minerals.

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Vitamins and Minerals

All vitamins and minerals are essential for proper development and function of the body. 

Vitamins

Vitamins fall into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. The length of time a vitamin remains in the body depends on which category it falls into. Vitamins are a group of organic compounds that act as catalysts in various chemical reactions. The vitamins trigger these reactions and speed them up. A compound becomes classified as a vitamin when a lack of it causes disease. In other words, vitamins do not directly provide energy but are required for the release of energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. They are essential for normal growth and development and particularly important for the healthy functioning of red blood cells, hormones, genetic materials and the nervous system. 

 

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. These are stored in the body for various amounts of time in the body fat (adipose tissue) or liver. Many people who are properly nourished have a three-month supply of vitamin D stored in the body. 

 Water-Soluble Vitamins

The water-soluble vitamins are all B-Vitamins, and C. Excess vitamins that are water soluble are excreted through urine, 

Minerals

Minerals are also stored in the body. Minerals are substances required by the body in small amounts for a variety of functions. These include the formation of bones and teeth; as essential constituents of body fluids and tissues; as components of enzyme systems and for normal nerve function. Some minerals are needed in larger amounts than others, e.g. calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. Others are required in smaller quantities and are sometimes called trace minerals, e.g. iron, zinc, iodine, fluoride, selenium and copper. Despite being required in smaller amounts, trace minerals are no less important than other minerals. Minerals are often absorbed more efficiently by the body if supplied in foods rather than as supplements. The difference between vitamin and mineral storage is that minerals are stored mainly for metabolism and structure, not nutrient reserves. The body adjusts mineral absorption according to its needs and naturally excretes the excess.

 

Overview

VitaminWhere is it storedFor how long is it stored
All B-Vitamins (B1-B9) expect B12Small amounts are stored in Liver and the rest is excreted.Replenish daily
Vitamin-ALiverYears
Vitamin-CLiver and in the adrenal glandMonths
Vitamin-DLiver and Adipose tissueMonths
Vitamin-ELiver and Adipose tissueMonths
Vitamin-KLiver and Bone MarrowMonths
Vitamin-B12LiverYears
MineralsAmounts neededWhere is it storedFor how long is it stored
Calcium1,000 mg/dayBones and teethConcentration is tightly regulated along with other minerals. Replenish daily
Copper 900 mcg/dayStored mainly in Bones but also liver, brain and hairMonths
Iodine 150 mcg/dayThyroid glandReplenish daily
Iron10-20mg/dayhaemoglobin and remainder stored in liver, spleen, bone marrow and musclesReplenish daily
Magnesium400mg/dayBones and muscleConcentration is tightly regulated along with other minerals. Replenish daily
Manganese 2mg/dayBones and remainder in other tissues as a component of enzymesReplenish daily
Potassium4 gr/dayIn all cellsReplenish daily
Phosphorus700mg/dayBonesReplenish daily
Sodium1500mg/dayBones and in all the cellsReplenish daily
Selenium 55mcg/dayFound in all tissues, bound to amino acids and proteins.Replenish daily
Zinc 10mg/dayNot stores/ easily mobilzedReplenish daily

Relevant info

  • The liver acts as a storage site for some vitamins, minerals (and glucose). The liver stores vitamins and minerals for the times when they may be lacking in the diet. An example is  vitamin D which helps get you through the shorter days of winter, for example, when your skin isn’t able to manufacture enough vitamin D. It is very important to keep our liver healthy. Any impairment of the liver such as fatty-liver needs to be addressed immediately.
  • Fats are insoluble in blood and water and so the liver produces special, fat-carrying proteins called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins circulate in the blood, carrying essential fatty acids between the liver and body tissues. The lipoproteins also transport cholesterol. Although cholesterol has a certain ‘unhealthy’ reputation, it is still essential for the correct functioning of the body. It is used to make bile salts, to synthesise vitamin D, to make sex hormones, to make other hormones for the immune system and in dealing with stress. 
  • The B complex vitamins and vitamin C make up the water-soluble vitamins. Since they dissolve in water in your body, they are not stored — with the exception of vitamin B12, which is stored in your liver. When your intake is more than your body needs for immediate use, the rest is excreted in the urine. This means that your diet must supply a continuous source of vitamins so your body has the amount you need available when it ‘s needed. The exception is vitamin C, which can be stored in the adrenal gland for three to four months.
  • Vitamin K, although supplied by some foods, can be made by the bacteria in your intestines, so your body should have a continuous supply of vitamin K in storage. Your body will continue to store fat-soluble vitamins until they are used. Hence, it could be dangerous to take large doses of these vitamins.
  • Supplementing with calcium can lead to magnesium deficiency due to competitive inhibition for absorption and over supplementing with vitamin D may lead to magnesium deficiency via excessive calcium absorption and hence increase the risk of arterial calcifications.
  • Copper is essential as a vital link in many of the body’s different chemical reactions and in the formation of protein within the liver. It also plays a role in using up the body’s iron stores, whenever they are needed. 
  • Zinc is a mineral used by the body to facilitate a large number of metabolic reactions, and you need a daily supply as the body does not store zinc.
  • Selenium and iodine have a synergistic relationship that is especially important for a healthy thyroid. Iodine is a component of thyroid hormone, and selenium as a selenoprotein helps to convert the thyroid hormone into its active form. Both minerals are needed by the thyroid in adequate amounts; too much of one can contribute to a deficiency of the other.
  • Iron is best taken with vitamin-C and best not with Calcium (ie dairy products) 
  • When taking multivitamins it is important to make sure the recommended doses of fat soluble vitamins are not exceeded. If this occurs, it might result in liver damage.

Common Deficiency signs

This section is mostly to demonstrate that many of the common issues people have can be attributed to low nutritional status especially with Vitamins or minerals that need to be replenished daily.

Brittle hair and nails

Usually a sign of Biotin (B7) deficiency

Mouth cracks

Usually a sign of iron or one of the B-complex deficiency

Poor night vision

Vitamin-A deficiency

Scaly patches and dandruff

Low blood levels of zinc, niacin (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) may each play a role.

Hair Loss

Most likely due to low iron, zinc, B3 or B7. It is also essential to have plenty of healthy fats and proteins in your diet.

Key Takeaways

  • You will need to replenish on a daily basis all water-soluble Vitamins and most minerals for optimal health.
  • High amounts for fat-soluble vitamins and certain minerals like iron can be toxic
  • Take care of your liver as it acts as a nutrient reserve for most Vitamins

Further Reading

  • http://www.hepctrust.org.uk/node/150
  • https://www.dietetics.co.uk/micronutrient-storage.aspx
  • https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/
  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/
  • https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/fat-soluble-vitamins-a-d-e-and-k-9-315/
  • https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/dietary-supplements-vitamins-and-minerals-9-338/
  • https://www.lucymailing.com/the-problem-with-iron-supplements-and-iron-fortified-foods/