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Health Blog

10 Essential Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs

Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals all help our bodies to function properly, grow, and thrive. Our bodies cannot produce these vitamins on their own, so we must get them from outside sources like food, or supplements.

Every vitamin has a different role to play in our overall health, whether it is aiding digestion, metabolism, cardiovascular health, production of red blood cells, or supporting skin, teeth and bone health. Most of us will get these vitamins in our daily diets, however, due to dietary factors, or health conditions, some people may benefit from a supplement. A vitamin deficiency can often lead to health complications if it is not acted on quickly.

A well-balanced diet is the best way to get vitamins and minerals, but supplements can give your body a boost if you don't get enough of a particular vitamin.

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A plays an important role in cell development and growth. It also promotes healthy skin, hair, nails, gums, glands, bones and teeth.

Where to get Vitamin A: Leafy greens (kale, spinach and broccoli), orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, squash and sweet potato), tomatoes, red bell peppers, milk, egg, fish oils, and beef liver. Many cereals, juices and dairy products are also fortified with Vitamin A.

Vitamin B:

There are eight different essential B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12(cobalamin). B vitamins help with several functions including cell health, formation of red blood cells, energy levels, eyesight, brain function, digestion, hormone function, cardiovascular health and muscle tone.

Where to get Vitamin B: Meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, legumes, nuts, beets, avocados, potatoes, spinach, kale, soy products, and nutritional yeast.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for growth, development, and repair of tissue. Vitamin C helps several body functions including the formation of collagen, strengthening the immune system, speeding up wound healing and maintaining cartilage, bones, and teeth. It also helps with iron absorption.

Where to get Vitamin C: Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes), strawberries, bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower) and white potatoes.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus which are critical for building healthy bones and teeth. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to direct sunlight. Recent studies show that vitamin D can reduce the risk of cancer, inflammation and control infections.

Did you know: Your body can generally produce enough vitamin D when exposed to 15 minutes of direct sunlight if you are fair skinned, and 30 minutes if you are dark skinned.

Where to get Vitamin D: Fatty fish, fish liver oil, egg yolks, cheese, beef liver. Dairy products and juices can also be fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes and strengthens the immune system.

Where to get Vitamin E: Plant oils (avocado, vegetable, olive, rapeseed, nuts) seeds and wheatgerm.

Vitamin K:

Vitamin K aids in blood clotting and healing wounds.

Where to get Vitamin K: Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale and spinach) vegetable oils and cereal grains.

Calcium:

Calcium helps to keep teeth and bones healthy, clot blood and regulate muscle contractions (i.e. your heartbeat).

Did you know: About 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in bones, and the remaining 1% is found in blood, muscle, and other tissues.

Where to get Calcium: Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, bread and soya.

Iron:

Iron helps transport oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency can result in a weakened immune system and fatigue.

Where to get iron: Leafy greens, red meat and legumes.

Magnesium:

Magnesium enables several types of enzymes to carry out chemical reactions in the body that build bones, regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and support muscle and nerve functions.

Where to get Magnesium: Nuts, chicken, beef, leafy green vegetables, brown rice, dairy products, and oats.

Zinc:

Zinc plays a vital role in immune function and is essential for normal growth and development during pregnancy and childhood.

Where to get Zinc: Red meat, chicken, seafood, dairy products, whole grains, beans and nuts.

Participate in research:

We are currently evaluating the effect of a Vitamin B2 supplement on the gut in healthy older adults. Consider joining this study to be a partner in discovering new scientific knowledge.

More information on our Vitamin B2 study here.
Maeve Cronin

Maeve Cronin / About Author