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  • Deanne Panday

Get to know your nutrients better


We generally pay close attention to the labels of food boxes to know about its vitamin and mineral content. Why is this so? From helping the body turn food into fuel, to fortifying bones and eyesight, vitamins and minerals are health superstars for sure. A healthy diet is usually includes most of the essential nutrients in adequate amounts, but in case it does not, Supplements help fill in the gaps. Understanding these nutrients and inculcating them in your daily diet can be tricky and confusing. Overall, there are 10 essential nutrients that are instrumental for your health.


Here is a thorough guide of these nutrients, their significance and their sources-


1. IRON

Iron carries oxygen in the body; helps in the production of red blood cells; supports immune system, and is essential for proper cell growth. Slacking on your iron intake causes your body to reduce the production of red blood cells, causing anaemia. This can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, as well as decreased immune system. It's particularly important for women with heavy menstrual cycles to eat iron-rich foods or take supplements.


Where to find it: Dark-green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, cereals, beans, and whole grains. Eat these foods with a vitamin C food, to help your body absorb the iron.


2. CALCIUM

Calcium makes and keeps your bones and teeth strong, and helps muscles function. Calcium is one of the best vitamins for women, because your body needs it for optimal bone health. "Calcium is one of the best defences.


Where to find it: Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Plus, dark-green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale.


3. MAGNESIUM

Magnesium maintains your nervous and muscular systems. It also keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, and promotes normal blood pressure. A deficiency in magnesium could lead to chronic or excessive vomiting, diarrhoea, and migraines.


Where to find it: Green vegetables like okra, red beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.


4. VITAMIN A

Vitamin A ensures proper development and function of your eyes, skin, immune system, and many other parts of your body. Vitamin A makes the list of best vitamins for women, since it plays a vital role in vision support.


Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, fruits, dairy products, liver, fish, and fortified cereals. Vitamin A is also available in multivitamins and stand-alone supplements.


5. FOLATE

Folate produces and maintains new cells, including red blood cells, and it's necessary for proper brain function. Folate, which is a B vitamin, is crucial for preventing anaemia, since it produces new blood cells in your body. Not getting ample folate can also lead to serious problems, like an increased risk of cervical, colon, brain, and lung cancer.


Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, avocados, beans, eggs, and peanuts. The synthetic form of folate (folic acid) is found in supplements and often added to enriched cereals, breads, pastas, and rice.


6. BIOTIN

 Biotin aids in the formation of fatty acids and blood sugar, which are used for energy production in the body. It also helps metabolise amino acids and carbohydrates. While a lack of biotin is rare, getting sufficient amounts helps recover deficiency including hair loss, brittle nails, and a scaly, red facial rash.


Where to find it: Cauliflower, liver, sweet potato, almonds, avocado, seeds, eggs, milk, grains, raspberries.


7. B VITAMINS

Vitamins like B6 and B12 help the body to convert food into fuel for energy. They also contribute to healthy skin, hair, and eyes. They maintain proper nervous system functioning, metabolism and muscle tone. Deficiency of certain B vitamins, can cause a host of awful symptoms. It can cause anaemia, tiredness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, depression, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, muscle cramps, respiratory infections, hair loss, eczema, poor development in children, and birth defects.


Where to find it: Fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, legumes, many cereals, and some breads.


8. VITAMIN C

Vitamin C facilitates normal growth and development and repairs bodily tissues, bones, and teeth. It functions as an antioxidant to block some of the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C's healing and antioxidant powers make it essential. Despite its reputation as a cold fighter, Vitamin C has never been proven to prevent or cure the sniffles, but the antioxidant is believed to boost your immune system.


Where to find it: All fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, red pepper, and broccoli.


9. VITAMIN D

Promotes bone growth, cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function. It also helps reduce inflammation. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen, leading to osteomalacia, or a softening of the bones, which can weaken muscles, too. 


Where to find it: Flesh of fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, and fish liver oils, with small amounts in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Exposure to sunlight also helps in absorbing Vitamin D.


10. OMEGA-3

Omega-3 assists in proper brain, memory, performance and behavioural function, helps reduce high blood pressure, and calms inflammation. Omega 3 helps lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other joint problems.


Where to find it: Fish—particularly fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel—and plants and nut oils.


These nutrients facilitate the key functioning of our body. Thus, it is imperative to include these foods in your diet to ensure proper body functioning.

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