Vitamins<br />and minerals

Vitamins
and minerals

What are vitamins and minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, and are essential for our bodies to function efficiently and healthily.

Vitamins are organic substances found in plants and animals. There are two types: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K, dissolve in fat and can be stored by the body. The water-soluble vitamins include C and B-complex vitamins; they need to dissolve in water before the body can absorb them.

Minerals are inorganic substances found in soil and sources of water. Animals and plants absorb these minerals, and then we absorb them from the food and drinks that we consume. There are macro minerals, which are very important for our bodies, and trace minerals, which are required in much smaller amounts.

How do I get enough vitamins and minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are found in the food we eat, the water and other drinks that we consume. If we have a balanced daily diet made up of whole foods that are fresh and simply prepared, then we will digest and absorb the average amount that our bodies need. 

However, with our busy modern lifestyles, and the types of foods that we consume, we may not be getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. You can take a variety of single vitamin and mineral supplements in the form of tablets or liquids, or a multivitamin and mineral combined supplement. 

The 12 main vitamins

A

Liver, cod liver oil, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, butter, kale, spinach, pumpkin, collard greens, some cheeses, egg, apricot, cantaloupe melon and milk

B1

Yeast, cereal grains, sunflower seeds, brown rice, wholegrain rye, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, oranges, liver and eggs

B2

Asparagus, bananas, persimmons, okra, chard, cottage cheese, milk, yoghurt, meat, eggs, fish and green beans

B3

Liver, heart, kidney, chicken, beef, fish (tuna, salmon), milk, eggs, avocados, dates, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, nuts, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms and brewer's yeast

B5

Meats, whole grains (milling may remove these), broccoli, avocados, royal jelly and fish ovaries

B7

Egg yolk, liver and some vegetables

B9

Leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, baker's yeast, some fortified grain products, sunflower seeds. Several fruits have moderate amounts - as does beer

B12

Fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, dairy products, some fortified cereals and soy products and fortified nutritional yeast

C

Fruit and vegetables. Liver also has vitamin C

D

Produced in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet B light from the sun or artificial sources. Also found in fatty fish, eggs, beef liver and mushrooms

E

 Kiwifruit, almonds, avocados, eggs, milk, nuts, leafy green vegetables, unheated vegetable oils, wheat germ and whole grains

K

Leafy green vegetables, avocados, kiwifruit. Parsley also contains a substantial amount of vitamin K

 

The macro minerals

-and where they can be found

Calcium

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, canned salmon and sardines with bones, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, nut milks and cereals

Magnesium

Nuts and seeds, legumes, leafy green vegetables, seafood, chocolate, artichokes and ‘hard’ drinking water

Phosphorus

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, some processed foods (including soda pop), almonds and tofu

Potassium

Bananas, tomatoes, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, citrus fruits such as oranges, low-fat milk and yogurt, legumes such as beans, split peas and lentils

Sodium

Table salt and soy sauce. Large amounts occur in processed foods, small amounts in milk, breads, vegetables and unprocessed meats

Sulphur

Occurs in foods as part of protein: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, legumes and nuts

Zinc

Beef, pork, dark chicken meat, nuts such as cashews, almonds and peanuts, legumes such as beans, split peas and lentils

 

The trace minerals

-and where they can be found

Chromium

Unrefined foods, especially liver, brewer's yeast, whole grains, nuts and cheese

Copper

Legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organ meats and drinking water
 

Iodine

Seafood, foods grown in iodine-rich soil, iodised salt, bread and dairy products
 

Iron

Meat, especially red meat, fish such as tuna and salmon, oysters, eggs, baked potatoes with skin, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, whole and enriched grains and fortified cereals

Manganese

Seafood, nuts and seeds

Selenium

Meats, seafood and grains

 

Facts about protein

Facts about protein

Read more
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