Unless you've had a blood test at the doctor's, it is hard to know which vitamins and minerals your body could be lacking. To make it easy, we have listed the essential ones below. As long as you either include them in your diet and take a supplement in combination with daily exercise, your body will function properly and feel its best.
Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of normal hair, and helps our vision and immunity work properly. Dairy products are abundant in vitamin A, as are chicken, fish, eggs, and beef liver.
Vitamin B12 assists the body's metabolism and contributes to normal red blood cell formation. Also, our nervous systems need it to function normally. Our bodies don't produce it, and therefore it needs to be consumed regularly to prevent anaemia. Meat, eggs, dairy products and poultry are good sources of B12, which is why vegans need to be careful to get the vitamin from alternate sources, such as wholegrain cereals, broccoli, asparagus, bananas, potatoes, nuts, figs and dates.
Folic acid works closely with vitamin B12 with which it contributes to normal blood formation and cell division. It is added to many fortified breads and cereals. Folate is its naturally occurring form, and is recommended for pregnant women. It can be found abundantly in beef liver, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, dried beans and wholegrain products.
Sunlight helps our bodies produce Vitamin D on its own, but in months with less sun, it can be low in our bodies. It helps the body absorb calcium, so it's crucial to bone and tooth growth, as well as to immunity and cell growth. There are very few naturally occurring dietary sources of vitamin D. Cod liver oil and oily fish are very rich natural sources of it. We usually tend to consume this vitamin via fortified foods such as milk, yoghurt, orange juice and breakfast cereals.
Calcium is most associated with bones and teeth, but in the bloodstream it regulates muscle contraction, hormone secretion and nerve function. Dairy products contain the most calcium (with low-fat yoghurt leading the pack), followed by dark leafy greens and fortified juices and cereals.
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) are a good form of fat and support brain and heart health, as well as being beneficial for vision. Fatty fish contain the most Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA), especially sardines with more than 50% of the recommended daily value. Cod Liver Oil or fish oil capsules can also provide you with recommended intake of Omega-3 EPA & DHA. Nuts, seeds, green vegetables and vegetable oil contain a sort of fatty acid (ALA).
While getting the above nutrients from food is always best, supplements can be an effective way to top up any nutritional gaps in your diet. Consult your doctor to find out what kind of supplement is best for you.
Did you know ?
Vitamin B12 and folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) are water-soluble vitamins. Overcooking foods containing these vitamins will effectively deplete their vitamin B value.
It's not so easy to monitor how many vitamins we are getting from our diet on a daily basis. For that reason, vitamin supplements can be taken to make sure we're getting the proper amounts of all vitamins our bodies need.