Essential Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that help the body grow and thrive. Each of the ten essential vitamins or minerals plays a different role in our overall health. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Supplements fact sheet, most people get the nutrients they need from their daily diets. However, different foods provide different vitamins and minerals. Therefore, some people might need additional vitamin or mineral supplementation to their regular diet.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential for the health of your heart, liver, and other organs. It’s also known as beta-carotene and is necessary for your reproductive, vision, and immune system health.

Vitamin A can be found in beef liver, salmon, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables like cantaloupe.

Vitamin B
There are eight essential B vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2(riboflavin), B3 [niacin], B5 (pantothenic acids], B6 (pyridoxine], B7 (biotin], B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin).

All of them help to convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. In addition, many B vitamins are essential for cell growth, development, and function.

If you are elderly, have had gastrointestinal surgery, or have an alcohol abuse problem, you may require more B vitamins. In addition, according to the American Pregnancy Association, women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant might need more B vitamins, especially folate. Folate has been proven to protect against congenital disabilities.

Vitamin B can be found in meat, poultry, fish, and organ meats.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, boosts immunity and increases iron absorption from plant foods and supplements. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects cells against damaging free radicals. In addition, vitamin C aids in wound healing and helps our bodies produce collagen.

You need 35 mg more vitamin C per day if you smoke than if you don’t. This is because your body needs more vitamin C to repair cell damage from tobacco smoke.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps build strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium from food or supplements. Vitamin D also improves the function of the immune system.

People who use sunscreen or avoid the sun — wise precautions to prevent skin cancer — may require supplements.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E helps to protect our cells against free radicals, improve our immune system, and prevent blood clots.

Vitamin E can be found in sunflower, safflower, and wheatgerm oils, as well as sunflower seeds, peanuts, and almonds.

Vitamin K
Vitamin K is essential for healthy bones and blood clotting. If you have undergone bariatric surgery or are suffering from malabsorption, you may require more vitamin K.

Calcium is essential for structural support in bones and teeth. The rest is found in blood, muscles, intracellular fluids, and the blood. Thus, it is critical for many metabolic, neurological, and muscular functions. Calcium supplements are most common for postmenopausal women, who have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, and those who do not consume dairy products (a primary source) of calcium.

Iron is essential for building red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that binds oxygen with oxygen. This oxygen travels from your lungs to your cells throughout the body. Because iron is more readily available in plant-based foods than in animal products, vegetarians must consume twice the amount of iron each day.

Magnesium plays a vital role in the regulation of over 300 enzymes. These enzymes regulate many processes within the body, such as muscle and nerve function and glucose control. Therefore, supplements may be needed by seniors and those with diabetes.

Magnesium can be found in almonds, spinach, cashews, and peanuts, bananas, brown rice, dairy products, and potatoes.

Zinc, an essential mineral for immune function, is vital for average growth and development in pregnancy and childhood. Supplements for vegetarians might also be needed, as the body is less able to absorb zinc from plant-based foods than it is from meat or fish.

Zinc can be found in red meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as whole grains, beans, and nuts.