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Vitamins and Minerals

We all know that we need these important vitamins and minerals. Some of us get too little and others enough or more. But do we know which one that is in our food?

 

What Are Vitamins and Minerals?

Vitamins and minerals make people’s bodies work well. Although you get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat every day, some foods have more vitamins and minerals than others.

Vitamins fall into two categories: fat soluble and water soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K — dissolve in fat and can be stored in your body. The water-soluble vitamins C and the B-complex vitamins (such as vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate) need to dissolve in water before your body can absorb them. Because of this, your body can’t store these vitamins. Any vitamin C or B that your body doesn’t use as it passes through your system is lost so that’s why we need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day.

Whereas vitamins are organic substances (made by plants or animals), minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. Your body needs larger amounts of some minerals, such as calcium, to grow and stay healthy. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are called trace minerals because you only need very small amounts of them each day.

What Do Vitamins and Minerals Do?

Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system; support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. For example, you’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. It’s true! Carrots are full of substances called carotenoids that your body converts into vitamin A, which helps prevent eye problems.

Another vitamin, vitamin K, helps blood to clot (so cuts and scrapes stop bleeding quickly). You’ll find vitamin K in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and soybeans. And to have strong bones, you need to eat foods such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables, which are rich in the mineral calcium.

Vitamins

Vitamin What the vitamin does Significant food sources
B1 (thiamin) Supports energy metabolism and nerve function spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk
B2 (riboflavin) Supports energy metabolism, normal vision and skin health spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams
B3 (niacin) Supports energy metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp
Biotin Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis widespread in foods
Pantothenic Acid Supports energy metabolism widespread in foods
B6 (pyridoxine) Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast
Folate Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans
B12 Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs
C (ascorbic acid) Collagen synthesis, amino acid metabolism, helps iron absorption, immunity, antioxidant spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries
A (retinol) Supports vision, skin, bone and tooth growth, immunity and reproduction mango, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beef liver
D Promotes bone mineralization self-synthesis via sunlight, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish
E Antioxidant, regulation of oxidation reactions, supports cell membrane stabilization polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn and canola oils), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod
K Synthesis of blood-clotting proteins, regulates blood calcium Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, liver

Minerals

Mineral What the mineral does Significant food sources
Sodium Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, supports muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmissions salt, soy sauce, bread, milk, meats
Chloride Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, aids in digestion salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, meats
Potassium Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, cell integrity, muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmission potatoes, acorn squash, artichoke, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green beans, tomato juice, avocado, grapefruit juice, watermelon, banana, strawberries, cod, milk
Calcium Formation of bones and teeth, supports blood clotting milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, tofu, sardines, green beans, spinach, broccoli
Phosphorus Formation of cells, bones and teeth, maintains acid-base balance all animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk)
Magnesium Supports bone mineralization, protein building, muscular contraction, nerve impulse transmission, immunity spinach, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, tomato juice, navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas,  sunflower seeds, tofu, cashews, halibut
Iron Part of the protein hemoglobin (carries oxygen throughout body’s cells) artichoke, parsley, spinach, broccoli, green beans, tomato juice, tofu, clams, shrimp, beef liver
Zinc A part of many enzymes, involved in production of genetic material and proteins, transports vitamin A, taste perception, wound healing, sperm production and the normal development of the fetus spinach, broccoli, green peas, green beans, tomato juice,lentils, oysters, shrimp, crab, turkey (dark meat), lean ham, lean ground beef, lean sirloin steak, plain yogurt, Swiss cheese, tofu, ricotta cheese
Selenium Antioxidant.  Works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation seafood, meats and grains
Iodine Component of thyroid hormones that help regulate growth, development and metabolic rate salt, seafood, bread, milk, cheese
Copper Necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron, supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes meats, water
Manganese Facilitates many cell processes widespread in foods
Fluoride Involved in the formation of bones and teeth, helps to make teeth resistant to decay fluoridated drinking water, tea, seafood
Chromium Associated with insulin and is required for the release of energy from glucose vegetable oils, liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, cheese, nuts
Molybdenum Facilitates many cell processes legumes, organ meats

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