KNOW YOUR ABCs
Vitamins and Minerals From A to Z
By Agnes Aui
VITAMINS AND MINERALS ARE NUTRIENTS YOUR BODY NEEDS IN SMALL AMOUNTS IN ORDER TO WORK PROPERLY AND STAY HEALTHY. GENERALLY, MOST PEOPLE SHOULD GET ALL THE NUTRIENTS THEY NEED BY HAVING A VARIED AND BALANCED DIET. HOWEVER, SOME PEOPLE MAY NEED TO TAKE EXTRA SUPPLEMENTS. IN THIS ISSUE, WE LIST DOWN ALL THE VITAMINS AND MINERALS YOU’LL NEED IN ORDER TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE.
1. VITAMIN A
One type of Vitamin A comes from animal sources of food. It helps you see at night, make red blood cells and fight off infections. The other type is in plant foods. It helps prevent damage to cells and an eye problem called age-related macular degeneration.
2. VITAMIN B1 (THIAMIN)
It helps your body turn food into energy. It’s also key to the structure of brain cells. Legumes like black beans and lentils, and seeds are go-to sources. Most people get enough thiamin from the foods they eat, and people with diabetes tend to have low levels of it.
3. VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN)
You could get enough for the day from a good breakfast. It’s added to many fortified breads and grain products and also found naturally in eggs, milk, asparagus and other green vegetables. Your cells need it to work right, and it might help prevent migraines.
4. VITAMIN B3 (NIACIN)
This is a family of compounds that your body needs to turn food into energy and store it. It helps protect your skin and tissues, and may improve your cholesterol levels. Three ounces of canned tuna have nearly all you’ll need in a day.
5. VITAMIN B6
This vitamin plays a role in more than 100 different reactions in your body. Some research have shown that B6 may help protect against memory loss and colorectal cancer. It’s found in leafy and root vegetables, non-citrus fruits, legumes, fish, poultry and lean meat.
6. VITAMIN B12
Rev up before hitting the gym with a snack like a hard-boiled egg or cereal with vitamins added. Vitamin B12 helps your body break down food for energy. Some athletes and trainers even take supplements before workouts.
7. VITAMIN C
Your body requires vitamin C to help your bones, skin and muscles grow. You’ll get enough by including bell peppers, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables in your diet.
This mineral helps concrete harden. Its strength makes it the building block for your bones and teeth. It’s also key to make muscles move, including your heart. Get calcium from milk, cheese, yogurt, kale and broccoli.
You only need a trace amount of this mineral, which is believed to help keep your blood sugar levels steady. Most adults easily get enough by eating foods like broccoli, English muffins and garlic.
10. VITAMIN D
Like calcium, it keeps your bones strong and helps your nerves carry messages. It also plays a role in fighting germs. Careful time in the sun (10 to 15 minutes on a clear day, without sunscreen) is the best source. Or you could eat fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.
11. VITAMIN E
It’s something called an antioxidant, which protects your cells from damage caused by pollution, sunlight and more. Vitamin E also helps your cells talk to each other and keeps blood moving. Sunflower seeds and nuts including almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts are good sources.
12. FOLIC ACID
For moms-to-be, it’s a must. It helps make DNA and prevent spina bifida and other brain birth defects. Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, dark leafy greens, oranges and orange juice, and legumes are rich in folic acid.
13. VITAMIN K
You need it for blood clotting and healthy bones. A serving of leafy greens like spinach, kale or broccoli will give you more than enough vitamin K for the day. A Japanese dish called natto, made from fermented soybeans, has even more.
Your thyroid uses iodine to make hormones that control metabolism. Top sources of iodine include fish and seaweed. Too much iodine can be harmful though, so keep it balanced.
When your iron levels are low, your body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells. And without them, you can’t get oxygen to your tissues. Keep up your levels with beans and lentils, liver, oysters and spinach.
This mineral plays a role in making your muscles squeeze and keeping your heart beating. It helps control blood sugar and blood pressure, and turn food into energy. You’ll get magnesium from almonds, cashews, spinach, soybeans, avocado, and whole grains.
You may think of bananas, but green leafy veggies are a better source of this mineral. It helps keep your blood pressure in a normal range, and it helps your kidneys work. Snack on raw cantaloupe, carrots and tomatoes too.
It does a lot of things, like fighting off infections and helping your thyroid gland work. Too much can cause brittle nails, nausea and irritability. Just four Brazil nuts could put you at your daily limit for selenium.
Without it, you couldn’t taste and smell. While you can get zinc from plant sources like sesame and pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils and cashews, it’s easier for your body to absorb it from animal sources such as oysters, beef, crab and lobster.