Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients your body needs in small amounts to function properly. These essential vitamins and minerals play a role in all the basic jobs your body does everyday, each one taking care of specific tasks.
No matter your age, not getting enough key vitamins can put you at risk for serious health problems. The best way to the right nutrients is to focus on making your diet healthy. Supplements can also be a good way to fill in the gaps when it so happens. Work with your doctor, nurse or a registered dietician to see which vitamins you require to feel your best.
Types of Vitamins
There are two main types of vitamin; Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.
a. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods and animal products such as vegetable oils, milk and dairy foods, eggs, liver, oily fish and butter.
While your body needs the vitamins everyday to work properly, you do not need to eat foods containing them everyday. Fat-soluble vitamins are;
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin E
• Vitamin K
b. Water-Soluble Vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so need them more frequently. If you have more than you need, your body will get rid of them when you urinate.
Water-soluble vitamins are found in wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, potatoes, grains, milk and dairy foods. They can be lost in water when cooking. Water-soluble vitamins are;
• Vitamin C
• Vitamins B or B vitamins
• Folic acid
There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients ( which is healthy ) and getting too much ( which can end up harming you ).
Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Let us examine in this article, the natural sources and health benefits of some of these vitamins and minerals.
Sources and Health Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals
1. Vitamin A
Sources: The natural source for vitamin A is carrot and other orange foods, sweet potatos and cantaloupe melons. It is also found in beef, liver, spinach, fish, milk and eggs.
Benefits: Vitamin A is good for healthy eyes and general growth and development, including healthy teeth and skin. It also plays a key role in immunity and reproductive behaviors.
2. Vitamins B or B vitamins
• Biotin ( vitamin B7 )
• Folic acid ( vitamin B9 )
• Niacin ( vitamin B3 )
• Pantothenic acid ( vitamin B5 )
• Riboflavin ( vitamin B2 )
• Thiamin ( vitamin B1 )
• Vitamin B6
• Vitamin B12
Sources: Vitamins B is an umbrella term for six different compounds that have similar effects on the body. Vitamins B is a crucial group of nutrients and can be found in whole unprocessed foods, specifically whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, yeast and molasses. It is also found in fish, beef, liver and poultry.
Benefits: B vitamins are good for energy production, immune function and iron absorption. It also stabilizes blood sugar and make antibodies that fight diseases.
3. Vitamin C
Sources: Almost everyone knows this – oranges, tangerine! They are not the only source, there are other sources – other fruits and vegetables packed with vitamin C. These include, guava, kiwi, red and green peppers, grape fruits, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe.
Benefits: Vitamin C is good for strengthening blood vessels and give the skin its elasticity. It has antioxidant function and iron absorption.
4. Vitamin D
Sources: One of the natural sources of vitamin D is by spending a few minutes in the sun. The sun stimulates the production of vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, fish and mushrooms.
Benefits: Vitamin D is good for strong healthy bones.
5. Vitamin E
Sources: The natural source of our favourite vitamin E – rich foods is the mighty almond. You can also find vitamin E in other nuts, sunflower seeds and tomatoes to reap the benefits, asparagus and olives.
Benefits: Vitamin E is good for blood circulation and protection from free radicals. It is involved in immune function and it is an antioxidant.
6. Vitamin K
Sources: The natural source of vitamin K is leafy green vegtables. They are the best sources of vitamin K, therefore you should make sure that you are eating a lot of spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Benefits: Vitamin K is good for blood coagulation. Blood coagulation is a process by which your blood clots.
7. Folic Acid
Sources: There are many sources of folic acid. They include dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, cauliflower, beets and corn.
Benefits: Folic acid is good for cell renewal and preventing birth defects in pregnancy.
Sources: This mineral is already known by many of us. The best sources of calcium are dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese along with tofu and black molasses
Benefits: The benefits of calcium mineral is that it is good for healthy teeth and bones.
Sources: Do not be surprised to know that clams takes the top spot for iron content natural source. It is followed by oysters and organ meat such as liver. If you are a vegetarian, soyabeans, cereal, pumpkin seeds, beans, lentils and spinach are wonderful sources of iron mineral.
Benefits: The iron mineral is good for building muscles naturally and for maintaining a healthy blood.
Sources: The natural sources of zinc mineral are sea foods such as oysters along with cashews, spinach, beans and dark chocolate.
Benefits: Zinc is good for growth, immunity and fertility.
Sources: You will be getting enough chromium as long as your diet contains whole grains, vegetables and herbs.
Benefits: Chromium is good for glucose function by making sure every cell in your body gets enough energy as and when needed.
1. Harvard Health Publications, 2014
2. Nutrition Science News, 2013
3. Internet health database.