Trip down the vitamins and minerals lane... (from A to Z)

This is not intended as a comprehensive list of all the vitamin and minerals in existence. Just a few of the very important ones.


Vitamin A



There are two main types of it. One comes from animal food sources. It helps night vision, makes red blood cells, and fights off infections. The other is in plant based foods and can help prevent an eye condition known as age-related macular degeneration and to cells all over our body. Eat orange veggies and fruits (like cooked sweet potato and cantaloupe), spinach and other greens, dairy products, and seafood such as shrimp and salmon. However, too much vitamin A can hurt your liver.


Vitamin B12

Rev up before hitting the gym with a snack like a hard-boiled egg or cereal with

vitamins added. B12 helps your body break down food for energy. So have a hard-boiled egg or cereal fortified by vitamins before hitting the gym. Some athletes and trainers take supplements before workouts, but these don’t really increase your success if you're already getting enough through your diet.


Vitamin C

Despite claims made by some over-the-counter vitamin C producers, it doesn’t prevent or cure colds. But once you have symptoms, drink orange or grapefruit juice to help yourself stay hydrated and feel better quicker. Your body must have vitamin C to help bones, skin, and muscles grow. You'll get enough from bell peppers, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables.

Calcium

Its strong composition makes it the building block for bones and teeth. It's also key to make muscles function, including the heart. Best sources are dairy foods, and from green vegetables like kale and broccoli. How much you need depends on your age and gender. Check with your doctor about whether you need to take a supplement.


Vitamin D

Keeps bones strong and helps nerves carry messages. It also plays a role in fighting

germs. Best source is the sun. But be careful not to exceed 10 to 15 minutes on a clear day, without sunscreen. Other sources include oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. There's a little in egg yolks, too. You can also get milk and sometimes orange juice fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin E

Is an antioxidant that protect cells from damage caused by cigarette smoke, pollution, sunlight, and other bad things. It also helps cells communicate with one another and keeps blood flowing. Sunflower seeds and nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are good sources. If you're allergic to those, vegetable oils (like safflower and sunflower), spinach, and broccoli are also rich in vitamin E.




Folic Acid

Is a must for expecting mothers. It helps make DNA and prevent spina bifida and other

brain related birth defects. Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, oranges and orange juice, and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) are rich in folic acid. Your doctor may advise you to take an added supplement.

Vitamin K

Required for reducing risk of blood clotting and increasing bone health. People who take warfarin, a blood-thinner, have to be careful about what they eat, because vitamin K reacts badly with the drug. It is abundant in leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or broccoli. A Japanese dish called natto, made from fermented soybeans, has even more.



Iron

Iron deficiency means the body is not making enough healthy red blood cells. And

without them, oxygen cannot reach the tissues. Women who are pregnant or have heavy menstrual cycles are most likely to have anaemia, the medical name for iron deficiency. Keep up iron levels with beans and lentils, liver, oysters, and spinach. Many breakfast cereals have a day’s worth added in. Even dark chocolate with at least 45% cacao has some iron.


Magnesium

Helps make muscles flex and keeps the heart beating. It helps control blood sugar and blood pressure, make proteins and DNA, and turn food into energy. You'll get magnesium from almonds, cashews, spinach, soybeans, avocado, and whole grains.



Potassium

Usually associated with bananas, but green leafy vegetables are a more abundant source of this mineral. It helps keep blood pressure in a normal range, and it helps kidneys function. Levels that are too low or too high could make the heart and nervous system malfunction. You should also watch your salt, because your body needs the right balance of sodium and potassium.


Zinc

It is what allows us to taste and smell. Our immune system needs it, and it helps cuts,

scrapes, and sores heal better. It may even help you keep your eyesight as you get older. 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 foods, such as oysters, beef, crab, lobster, and pork.






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