What are vital substances?

Vitamins, trace elements, minerals, amino and fatty acids – our body needs numerous vital substances for its metabolic processes. You can find out here how they work in the body and how they can be used against diseases.


The expression “vital substances” is not a scientific term. In colloquial terms, vital substances are understood to be various substances from different groups of active substances. Due to the general comprehensibility and usage of the term, we have used and explained it on the following pages.

Vital substances fulfill vital tasks

Vital substances such as vitamins , trace elements, minerals , amino and fatty acids fulfill vital tasks in numerous metabolic processes in our body. In addition, they say to be a disease-preventing effect. If there are limitations in performance and well-being, the cause may be a lack of vitamin substances .

Vital substances are important to keep the body healthy and play an important role for the immune system. In recent times, the preventive, i.e. disease-preventing effect of vitamin substances has come more and more to the fore: For example, it is now consider to be certain that a diet rich in vitamins and fiber increases the risk for-can significantly reduce colon cancer . But the cardiovascular system also benefits from an adequate supply of the right vital substances.

A lack of vital substances can manifest itself in a wide range of complaints: It ranges from limitations in performance and well-being to serious, life-threatening diseases. In most cases, it is enough to eat a balanced and healthy diet to compensate for the deficiency.

Germany is not a vitamin deficient country

Germany is not a vitamin deficient country. There is a marginal natural supply of iodine , fluorine , folic acid and, seasonally, vitamin D; but we do not lack any of the other nutrients. Inadequate supply occurs; when one eats one-sidedly or does not eat enough – for example with one-sided diets or in old age . Chronic illnesses, alcohol abuse , pregnancy and breastfeeding as well as the chronic use of medication can also lead to insufficient supply.

Unwanted side effects

An additional intake of micro nutrients can lead to undesirable side effects. For example; allergies and an increased risk of cancer . In addition, drug interactions can occur.

Food supplements are not subject to the strict drug law. They have not tested for effectiveness; side effects, risks, long-term effects or interactions with other drugs or substances in extensive studies.

Causes for a lack of vital substances

Numerous factors mean that many people have a lack of vital substances:

  • Wrong eating habits: Ready meals, fast food or canteen meals often only contain some of the vital substances that we need. Even with a one-sided diet such as veganism or similar one-sided diets, insufficient supply often occurs. Food intolerance and aversions to food
  • Diseases with an increased basal metabolic rate
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
  • Chronic smokers
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Storage, transport, processing and keeping food warm reduce the vital substance content

Genuine deficiency diseases are rather rare, for example scurvy ( vitamin C deficiency ), rickets (vitamin D deficiency) or beriberi ( vitamin B1 deficiency ). On the other hand, latent deficiencies occur relatively often – especially in risk groups such as children and adolescents, young women , pregnant women or the elderly . For example, 75 percent of all young women consume less folic acid than is recommended.

Folic acid is essential for proper embryonic development in pregnant women, among other things. Even with vitamin D.there is a clear under supply in the German population. In addition, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) reports that only 15 percent of all Germans consume the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

The metabolic processes of our body, the immune defense and other protective mechanisms only function optimally if the necessary micro nutrients are available in sufficient quantities. As a rule, however, a balanced, healthy diet can quickly make up for a deficiency.

Guide values ​​for the vital substance requirement

The nutrition societies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have set common guide values ​​for nutrient intake – the so-called DA-CH reference values. These guideline values ​​represent, on the one hand, minimum requirements for avoiding deficiencies, but also the specification of maximum quantities above which undesirable side effects must be expected.
In certain situations, people may have a higher need for certain nutrients. This includes:

  • sick people or people who are recovering from an illness
  • People with digestive and metabolic disorders
  • People who drink a lot of alcohol
  • Smoker
  • People who need to take medication regularly
  • Pregnant and nursing mother

Vital substances, however, have a far more comprehensive role: They are used to optimally support health and prevent chronic diseases.

In certain cases, the intake of vitamins such as vitamin D or folic acid and also the intake of minerals such as iodine necessary. As a rule, the remaining nutrients can be sufficiently absorbed through a healthy, balanced diet. Since the complex processes in which the vital substances are involved have not yet been fully clarified, an additional supply of these substances is usually not recommended – exceptions are proven deficiencies. Often these substances have positive properties, which, however, can turn into the opposite in interaction with other factors.

Amino acids

Amino acids are not only building blocks of proteins and thus of body structures, they also have special tasks in metabolism – as messenger substances, in immune modulation and in hormone synthesis. The main source of amino acids is animal protein – i.e. meat, sausage, fish, milk and eggs. But plants also serve as amino acid suppliers, for example nuts, soy, whole grain products and legumes.
Eggs amino acids vital substances

According to nutritional-physiological aspects, a distinction is made between expendable (essential), indispensable (non-essential) and conditionally indispensable (semi-essential) amino acids. The L-amino acids are often also give without the addition of L-.
The body cannot produce indispensable (essential) amino acids itself, so they have to be taken in with food. They include: L-isoleucine, L-leucine, L-lysine, L-methionine, L-phenylalanine, L-threonine, L-tryptophan, and L-valine.
Conditionally indispensable (semi-essential) amino acids can be produced by the body, but must also be supplied in infancy, in the event of malnutrition or certain serious illnesses. These include: L-arginine, L-cysteine, L-tyrosine, L-serine and L-histidine. In some cases, L-glutamine can also be semi-essential.
Dispensable (non-essential) amino acids can be produced by the body itself. They include L-alanine, L-asparagine and L-aspartic acid, L-glutamic acid, glycine, L-glutamine and L-proline.
If amino acids are suppl to the body outside of normal nutrition (enteral supply) – for example via an infusion (parenteral) – the amino acids often have different effects. Therefore, the results of studies examining parenteral nutrition can usually not be transfer to normal nutrition.
Functions of individual amino acids in the organism
Alanine:
Contributes to the structure of the cells.
Asparagine:
Serves as an important supplier of energy in cellular processes.
Aspartic acid:
Is an important messenger substance in the nervous system.
Arginine:
Is an important part of most body proteins. The amino acid also strengthens the immune system, is involved in detoxification processes and promotes body growth. An additional intake of arginine is not recommend from a nutritional point of view, as more harmful nitric oxide is form and the immune system is inhibit.
Cysteine:

Important for detoxification processes and for the immune defense. Also has an antioxidant effect. An additional supply is usually given as an infusion solution to the seriously ill – such as patients after a bone marrow transplant, with severe burns or radiation damage. An additional intake is also advisable for new and premature babies, which is why cysteine ​​is often added to baby food.
Glutamine:
Strengthens the immune system and protects the lining of the small intestine. Promotes muscle and length growth. Glutamine is also usually administer as an infusion solution to seriously ill patients – such as patients after a bone marrow transplant, with severe burns or radiation damage.
Glutamic acid:
Important messenger substance for the central nervous system, increases concentration and performance. Also involved in the body’s detoxification processes.
Glycine:
Occurs in many cells because it is involve in building up their structure. In the central nervous system it acts as a neurotransmitter, i.e. as a messenger substance.
Histidine:
Formation of the red blood pigment hemoglobin, a key function in allergic and inflammatory diseases.
Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine:
Promote the development of muscle tissue.
Lysine:
Promotes collagen formation in blood vessels, skin, bones and teeth. Supports calcium absorption from the intestine and incorporation into the bones.
Methionine:
Important for the formation of cell membranes, for the nervous system, detoxification processes and the regulation of the acid-base balance.
Phenylalanine:
Important for the production of various hormones such as dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, thyroxine. Partly used for depression .
Proline:
Mainly needed for the development of connective tissue – but also acts as a buffer.
Taurine:
Has an antioxidant effect, is involve in detoxification processes, stabilizes the nerve cells, regulates the heart function and strengthens the immune system.
Threonine:
Important for body growth.
Tryptophan:
Important for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This regulates the sleep-wake rhythm, mood, appetite and pain perception. Also important for the formation of the hormone melatonin and vitamin B3 .
Tyrosine:
Formed from phenylalanine and required for the formation of the messenger substances dopamine , noradrenaline , adrenaline and the thyroid hormones. Melatonin and coenzyme Q10 are also form from tyrosine.
Valine:
Found in almost all proteins in the body.

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