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Vital substances – important nutrients for the body

What are vital substances?

Vital substances, also known as micronutrients, are essential for the body and play a decisive role in optimal health. They contribute significantly to a variety of processes in the body, including metabolism, immune function, cell renewal and energy production. Vital substances include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, fatty acids and secondary plant substances. Vital substances are found in many foods in varying quantities. They are particularly rich in plant products such as fruit, vegetables and berries, nuts and seeds, wholegrain cereals or lentils, but also in meat, fish and dairy products. In order to get as many of these valuable substances as possible from your diet, it is important to eat a varied, seasonal, freshly prepared diet from organic farming.


Vitamins are essential, organic micronutrients that the human body cannot produce itself, but is dependent on ingesting them through our daily diet (with the exception of vitamin D, which can be produced by the body if the skin is exposed to sufficient sunlight). Our body needs vitamins as co-factors for enzymes or as antioxidants for various bodily functions. A distinction is made between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins and can preferably be absorbed by the body together with some fat. In contrast to the water-soluble vitamin C and the vitamin B complex, they can be stored by the body. Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, can hardly be stored.

Vitamins play an essential role in many bodily functions. Examples: Vitamin A supports vision, vitamin C strengthens the immune system and promotes the production of collagen, vitamin D and vitamin K promote bone health, while vitamin E protects cells from oxidative stress. The B vitamins are important for many metabolic processes, such as the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats.


Minerals are vital inorganic nutrients that must also be supplied through food. The body needs minerals for a wide range of important functions. Minerals are categorised according to two dimensions: Bulk elements, which are present in higher concentrations in the body, and trace elements, for which the required concentration in the body is lower.

Minerals are essential for many bodily functions. Examples: Calcium and magnesium contributeto bone health and muscle and nerve function, iron supports the formation of red blood cells, zinc promotes the immune system and wound healing, and iodineis important for thyroid function.

Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They are essential for various bodily functions, such as the formation and repair of tissue, but they are also required for the formation of hormones or defence cells. Among the amino acids there are eight essential amino acids, which means that the amino acids are vital and cannot be produced by the body itself and must therefore be supplied through food.

Fatty acids

Fatty acids is a group name for so-called monocarboxylic acids. These are compounds that consist of a carboxyl group and a hydrocarbon chain of varying length, but almost exclusively unbranched. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for the body.

Secondary plant substances

Secondary plant substances are found exclusively in plants. They are colouring, fragrance and flavouring substances that have functions such as attracting insects or repelling pests. In the human body, the substances unfold various exciting effects. To date, around 100,000 phytochemicals are known, of which around 10,000 are found in human food.

The most important secondary plant substance groups include

  • Carotenoids (yellow, orange or red colourings)
  • Flavonoids (light yellow, red, blue fruits and vegetables, e.g. aronia berries)
  • Glucosinolates (in cabbage, radish, radish, mustard, cress)
  • Monoterpenes (in citrus fruits, grapes, apricots, mint, caraway)
  • Phenolic acids (in coffee, green and black tea)
  • Phytoestrogens (in soya, red clover, linseed, wheat bran)
  • Polyphenols such as OPC or resveratrol (in grape seeds)
  • Saponins (in pulses, oats, asparagus, spinach)
  • Sulphides (in onions, leeks, wild garlic, garlic, chives)

Foods rich in vital substances

There are many foods that are rich in vital substances and can be integrated into your diet. These include vegetables, fruit and berries, wholemeal products, pulses, nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are practically only found in oily sea fish and vitamin B12 in meat. Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are rich in vitamins and minerals, while berries and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C are rich in vitamin C. Wholemeal products are rich in fibre and B vitamins. If you’re aiming for a balanced diet with a variety of vital nutrients, try to include a variety of these foods in your meals.

The top nutrients for your health

All vital nutrients are important, but you should make sure you don’t miss out on any of the following:

Vitamin D: Important for bone health, the immune system and hormone regulation. However, it is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from food; it is only found in small amounts in mushrooms, eggs, cheese, salmon, herring and tuna. The special thing about vitamin D is that the body produces the vitamin in the skinwith the help of sunlight. In our latitudes, however, there is not enough sunlight between October and April. According to the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health), at least half of the Swiss population has a deficiency(Federal Office of Public Health 2012. Vitamin D deficiency: data situation, safety and recommendations for the Swiss population).

Omega-3 fatty acids: Important for brain function, the cardiovascular system and inflammatory reactions in the body. Fatty marine fish and linseed oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Magnesium: Important for muscle function, bone health and energy metabolism. Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, seeds, wholemeal products and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C: Important for the immune system, collagen production and the absorption of iron from plant foods. Vitamin C is found in many berries, e.g. in aronia or (black) currants, but also in citrus fruits or kiwi and in vegetables such as red peppers or broccoli.

Vitamin B12: Important for the formation of red blood cells, the nervous system and DNA synthesis. B12 is mainly found in animal foods.

A balanced diet with a variety of vital nutrients can help to maintain your health and prevent illness.

Tips for optimising your intake of vital nutrients

Here are some tips that can help you ensure that you are getting enough nutrients:

  • Make sure your diet is balanced and includes a variety of foods rich in vital nutrients, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholemeal products.
  • If you prefer a vegetarian or vegan diet, make sure you get enough iron, vitamin B12 and protein.
  • Avoid eating convenience foods, processed foods, refined carbohydrates (sugar) and white flour products as much as possible.
  • Prepare your food fresh and gently to minimise the loss of vital nutrients.

Food supplements

It is not always possible to get enough vital substances from your diet, in which case food supplements can be a useful addition. As the name suggests, these products supplement a balanced diet, which is the basis for a healthy life. First find out which products could be suitable for you and find out about the quality. At kingnature, high-quality food supplements with high bioavailability are the be-all and end-all.