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Vitamins and Minerals
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Vitamins & You
 

 


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Unlike protein, carbohydrates and fats, vitamins do not yield usable energy when broken down.  They assist the enzymes that release energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats, but they do not provide energy themselves.  (thus, beware of claims for "energy vitamins" or for diets that replace  foods with vitamin supplements)

Vitamins and minerals are widely available from the natural foods we eat.  So, before you reach for the vitamin jar, try eating your vitamins from natural foods.   Here are some of the best sources for each:

Note the nutritional powerhouses: spinach and broccoli. 
Now you know why your mother always forced you to eat your vegetables as a child !

Vitamins

Vitamin

What the vitamin does

Significant food sources

B1 (thiamin)

Supports energy metabolism and nerve function

spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk

B2 (riboflavin)

Supports energy metabolism, normal vision and skin health

spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams

B3 (niacin)

Supports energy metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system

spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp

Biotin

Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis

widespread in foods

Pantothenic Acid

Supports energy metabolism

widespread in foods

B6 (pyridoxine)

Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production

bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast

Folate

Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation

tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans

B12

Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance

meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs

C (ascorbic acid)

Collagen synthesis, amino acid metabolism, helps iron absorption, immunity, antioxidant

spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries

A (retinol)

Supports vision, skin, bone and tooth growth, immunity and reproduction

mango, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beef liver

D

Promotes bone mineralization

self-synthesis via sunlight, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish

E

Antioxidant, regulation of oxidation reactions, supports cell membrane stabilization

polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn and canola oils), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod

K

Synthesis of blood-clotting proteins, regulates blood calcium

Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, liver

top

Minerals

Mineral

What the mineral does

Significant food sources

Sodium

Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, supports muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmissions

salt, soy sauce, bread, milk, meats

Chloride

Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, aids in digestion

salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, meats

Potassium

Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, cell integrity, muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmission

potatoes, acorn squash, artichoke, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green beans, tomato juice, avocado, grapefruit juice, watermelon, banana, strawberries, cod, milk

Calcium

Formation of bones and teeth, supports blood clotting

milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, tofu, sardines, green beans, spinach, broccoli

Phosphorus

Formation of cells, bones and teeth, maintains acid-base balance

all animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk)

Magnesium

Supports bone mineralization, protein building, muscular contraction, nerve impulse transmission, immunity

spinach, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, tomato juice, navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas,  sunflower seeds, tofu, cashews, halibut

Iron

Part of the protein hemoglobin (carries oxygen throughout body's cells)

artichoke, parsley, spinach, broccoli, green beans, tomato juice, tofu, clams, shrimp, beef liver

Zinc

A part of many enzymes, involved in production of genetic material and proteins, transports vitamin A, taste perception, wound healing, sperm production and the normal development of the fetus 

spinach, broccoli, green peas, green beans, tomato juice,lentils, oysters, shrimp, crab, turkey (dark meat), lean ham, lean ground beef, lean sirloin steak, plain yogurt, Swiss cheese, tofu, ricotta cheese

Selenium

Antioxidant.  Works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation

seafood, meats and grains

Iodine

Component of thyroid hormones that help regulate growth, development and metabolic rate

salt, seafood, bread, milk, cheese

Copper

Necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron, supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes

meats, water

Manganese

Facilitates many cell processes

widespread in foods

Fluoride

Involved in the formation of bones and teeth, helps to make teeth resistant to decay

fluoridated drinking water, tea, seafood

Chromium

Associated with insulin and is required for the release of energy from glucose

vegetable oils, liver, brewer's yeast, whole grains, cheese, nuts

Molybdenum

Facilitates many cell processes

legumes, organ meats


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