Vitamins and Minerals – Nature’s Guide to Health & Wellness
Everyone knows that vitamins and minerals are important to their health. Pretty well everyone also knows that ideally, these are best obtained through a healthy diet. Unfortunately, beyond that, there is a great deal of misunderstanding, misinformation, and simply, a lack of knowledge.
Vitamins and minerals are not simply important to health, they are essential to health. Without them, we cannot survive. In a multitude of ways they support and protect our very lives.
Good health requires much more than simply ingesting large amounts of food, in the clinging hope that our nutritional needs are being met. We require specific nutrients.
We also need to acquire them within particular ranges for each. While these are not exact, there is a range for each that our bodies demand. Extreme excesses can be just as harmful as extreme deficiencies.
There is also an interplay between these nutrients. Some minerals are virtually inert or inactive unless other specific minerals or vitamins are also present to enable them. Further, there are different dietary requirements for different demographics, such as age, gender and specific lifestyles.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Bone Health
Bones are a vitally important part of our body because they provide structure, protect the organs, and provide a framework for the muscles. They also act as a bank for the storage of calcium.
For maximum vitality, health, and mobility, good bone care is essential. If you do not take good care of your bones, you will most likely develop a disorder called osteoporosis, in which the bones become weak and brittle.
As with most of our health, the biggest factors that influence bone health are diet and exercise. Diet is the most critical, as exercise can’t make up for dietary deficiencies. Everyone should be aware of the essential vitamins and minerals that will help to develop strong bones and keep them healthy.
Below are the most common vitamins and minerals that you need to take to gain healthier bone density and prevent bone loss.
Calcium is a major component of bones, and most of the body’s calcium is stored in bones and teeth. You would have probably had your mother say to you as a child, ‘Drink your milk so your bones can grow healthy and strong.’
However, you must be aware of taking the right amount of calcium for your body. Going beyond the body’s needs can cause constipation and other complications, such as kidney stones.
Also, if you take too much calcium without the balance of other vitamins and minerals, you can do more harm than good. (We explain the importance of vitamin D with calcium shortly.)
Calcium uptake and utilization are dependent on the availability of other minerals and vitamins. If a deficiency of any of the others exists, excess calcium will not be used in bone repair and manufacture but will be excreted, or will contribute to the complications mentioned above.
Calcium can be found in dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon, and sardines. Dairy products contain relatively large amounts of calcium. However, the calcium derived from plant sources is believed to be more readily absorbed.
In addition to calcium, you also need to take the right amount of vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium from the food that you eat efficiently. Many foods now in the U.S. are fortified with both calcium and Vitamin D.
It is known that children with persistently low levels of vitamin D are more prone to a condition called “rickets,” which causes several bone issues, such as bowed legs. Adults with a low level of vitamin D tend to develop a condition called “osteomalacia” or soft bone, which causes pain and deformities of long bones.
Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, salmon, tuna, milk, and cereals. However, the best source of vitamin D is sunlight.
Iron also contributes to bone health and strength. Low levels of iron may lead to bone problems. Foods that are rich in iron are green leafy vegetables and red meat.
Magnesium is essential for strong bones, and it works together with calcium. This mineral also helps in providing the proper function of nerves and muscles. While most people can obtain adequate amounts of calcium from a reasonable diet, the same is not true of magnesium.
Unfortunately, most people do not usually get the required amount of magnesium from their food intake, so taking daily supplements is often necessary. If you do take an excessive amount of magnesium, you may experience side effects such as stomach upset and diarrhea.
Some good sources of magnesium are green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and squash.
Boron is an essential trace element. This means that the body only needs it in tiny amounts, but those tiny amounts are vital to bone health. Studies show that when your body lacks boron, you can have problems with bone development.
This mineral helps bone use and preserve other essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. There is no set amount of boron required, but taking too much can be toxic to the body.
Good sources of boron include bananas, broccoli, almonds, apples, grapes, and tomatoes.
The vitamins and minerals listed above are essential to keep your bones strong and healthy. Other important nutrients your bones need include potassium, vitamin k2, zinc, and phosphorus.
Taking the right amount of each will help you avoid bone problems, such as osteoporosis. This has become a major health problem among the elderly population, which is often due to their lifestyle becoming more sedentary.
Taking the essential vitamins and minerals are necessary, but they are not enough to keep the bones healthy. Your body requires physical exercise and avoiding unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages.
Maintaining and building healthy bones is crucial regardless of your age and gender. If you haven’t been consciously taking care of your bones, it is never too late to start. You can improve your bone density and health of your bones. There are many factors that contribute to bone health, but taking the essential vitamins and minerals is of utmost importance.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Children
Vitamins and minerals are crucial for every child’s health. Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of the skeletal system, the body’s overall growth, proper circulation of blood, and many other processes.
Obviously, all children should be taking the right amounts of vitamins and minerals for their bodies. However, it’s not always easy.
Today many children do not get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals due to an unhealthy, unbalanced diet. This usually is where the taking of vitamin and mineral supplements is required.
It may not be the optimal solution or highly advised, but it is often necessary when there are dietary deficiencies. Unfortunately, many parents don’t have enough time to prepare healthy, balanced foods at home, which are the best sources of essential vitamins and minerals.
Sometimes kids are picky food-eaters, and eating the right amount of healthy and nutritious foods becomes problematic. The following will help you identify some of the most important sources of vitamins and minerals for children, their role in the body, and the recommended daily intake in order to maintain ideal health.
This mineral is considered the major nutrient for a child’s teeth and bone development. Insufficient calcium can affect a child’s growth and increase the probability of having bone problems later in life. The best sources of calcium are dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and legumes.
The recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of calcium is as follows:
Iron contributes to bone strength by assisting the red blood cells in carrying oxygen throughout the body. A lack of iron in children may lead to health issues such as weak immunity and poor memory. Some good sources of iron are lean red meat, dried beans, egg yolks, and oysters.
The recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of iron is as follows:
For teenagers, experts suggest an iron intake of 11 mg /day for males and 15 mg/day for females who have entered the menstrual phase of their life.
In addition, vegetarian children may need an iron supplement to balance their dietary needs.
This is one of the most significant sources of antioxidants for our body to keep our immune system strong. Vitamin C can help a child avoid many health issues, such as fatigue, diseases or infection. Good sources of vitamin C include spinach, broccoli, and citrus fruits.
The recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of vitamin C is as follows:
Vitamin D is essential for the development of body structure and teeth because it helps in the absorption of calcium. Children with insufficient intake of vitamin D are more prone to chronic diseases. Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin D are salmon, sardines, egg yolk, and fortified milk. Another good source is adequate exposure to sunlight.
The recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of vitamin D is as follows:
There is no exemption for any child to consume the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. Each child needs to meet their Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) of vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Parents have the responsibility to know what their children's dietary needs are, so they can help support their development.
A healthy diet containing essential vitamins and minerals is the basis of good health. Children who maintain a satisfactory health condition at all stages will have a strong mental and physical foundation for future growth and development.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Energy
Our body needs energy for us to be able to do anything and everything! Ideally, we should be getting all the essential vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. Unfortunately, given how foods are produced and processed these days, it can be nearly impossible to get the right amounts of vitamins and minerals that our body needs daily.
Take, for example, a pot of honey. If you get it directly from the beekeeper, great! All the goodness is still intact. If you buy it from the store, it has very possibly been heat-treated and that kills much of the beneficial goodness.
So it will still provide ‘energy’ from the sugars, but little in the way of nutritional ‘vitality.’
This is why taking supplements is often necessary. If our foods are too processed, it can lead to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Therefore, if you are continually running out of energy, feeling weak and/or fatigued, it is important to know what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking in order to boost your energy production.
Side-note: It is important to make a distinction about ‘energy.’ From a non-health and nutrition perspective, energy is a measurement of the work any particular thing can do. When applied to humans and food, this means that energy, in this sense, can be measured as the fuel contribution that each unit of food contributes.
This means that the highest contributor, in terms of energy released for volume consumed, would be pure glucose, with other sugars close behind. This is very unhelpful when it comes to talking about ‘energy’ the way that most of us think about ‘energy,’ which is feeling vital and having the power and dynamism to perform at our best, physically and mentally.
Most people are aware by now that consuming sugars in all but small amounts will cause energy slumps in the short term, and major health problems long term. The human body does not consume raw energy like a petrol-fueled machine; it is much more complex than that. For the purposes of this article, when we talk about energy, we are talking about also feeling energetic, not only the fuel value of the food consumed.
Here are some of the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to produce useful and useable energy and vitality.
CoQ10 or coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that is naturally produced inside the body. CoQ10 is found in every cell in your body, protecting it from oxidative damage. Without adequate levels of CoQ10, the cells will not be able to produce energy, which then leads to fatigue. When your body cannot produce the amount of CoQ10 it needs, taking a supplement may be beneficial. Some of the main food sources of CoQ10 are fish, meat, whole grains, and nuts.
All B vitamins are important for the body’s energy production as they help convert carbohydrates into usable energy. Vitamin B12, in particular, aids the body’s transformation of food that you eat into energy that your cells will use. Vitamin B12 also helps you avoid weakness and tiredness associated with anemia by keeping your nerves and blood cells healthy.
Meat, fish, cheese, milk, and fortified cereals are some of the best sources of Vitamin B12.
Our body needs oxygen to function, and iron helps produce hemoglobin that transports oxygen throughout the body. Insufficient iron levels can lead to fatigue and difficulty in maintaining body temperature.
A few sources are meat, seafood, spinach, oats, fortified cereals, and beans.
Vitamin C is popularly known to be essential for the immune system, but new research suggests that it can also help you combat fatigue. If you are an athlete or workout junkie, vitamin C raises your pain barriers and improves performance.
Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, papaya, parsley, red bell peppers, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Creatine is a fast-acting source of energy in the body, and taking supplements of this vitamin helps boost your energy stores. It speeds up muscle growth and helps fight various diseases, such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and neurological diseases.
You can find creatine in red meat, pork, fish, and poultry products.
Biotin, also known as vitamin H, helps turn carbs, protein, and fat into energy and cell building blocks. Aside from converting food into energy, biotin also helps regulate blood sugar levels and keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy.
Some of the best sources of biotin are beef liver, eggs, salmon, pork, nuts, soybeans, whole grains, and bananas.
Magnesium helps increase energy in the body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This vital mineral also aids in blood circulation and neurotransmitter function. Taking magnesium supplements can help you relax and provide better sleep. When you have a good sleep, you have more vitality the next day to carry out your tasks.
You can find magnesium in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains, avocado, dark chocolate, and yogurt.
Several vitamins and minerals are essential in keeping our bodies energized. They help convert food into energy or produce hormones that the body needs. Insufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals can lead to fatigue and weakness.
Essential vitamins and minerals are ideally obtained from natural resources. When you can’t get enough of these vitamins and minerals from the food that you eat, supplementing is suggested. Just make sure that you are aware of what each vitamin or mineral can do for your body. It is also crucial to know how much you are going to take to prevent undesirable side effects.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Gut Health
Keeping the gut healthy is not something that many people focus on or even think about. If that describes you, it’s time that you start giving it more attention.
Your gastrointestinal tract is incredibly important to body health at every level, including mental and even emotional wellbeing. The primary role of the gut is in breaking down nutrients for the body’s absorption.
If your gut health is problematic, you may experience various digestive issues, including chronic heartburn, GERD, abdominal pain, and acid reflux.
Are the foods you’re eating helping you keep your gut healthy? Some essential vitamins and minerals will keep your gut in better shape for optimal nutrient absorption and utilization. Here are a few to look for.
Your gastrointestinal tract is full of functional microbes that are responsible for various processes. These include digestion - food break down, absorption, and utilization of essential nutrients in your diet.
Vitamin B12 helps rebalance the bacteria in your gut and support the system in breaking down food by producing digestive enzymes.
Vitamin B12 also helps ensure that bad bacteria numbers do not exceed the good bacteria. If the bad bacteria become excessive, you will experience digestion problems, abdominal pain, and/or diarrhea.
Eggs, fish, meat, yogurt, and liver are some of the best sources of vitamin B12.
Iron is a mineral that helps treat inflammation in your gut lining through an anti-inflammatory bacterial metabolite. It supports good bacterial growth and fights high levels of bad bacteria. Iron deficiency can lead to inflammation, which causes discomfort, poor nutrient absorption, as well as diarrhea.
Some of the best iron-rich foods you can include in your diet are brown rice, peanut butter, shrimp, lentils, beef, and eggs.
Your body produces iron in a minimal dosage, which means eating iron-rich foods and supplementation at times may become necessary. Vitamin C is what helps your body make the most out of the iron that you ingest.
This vitamin aids in the proper absorption of iron by reducing iron inhibitors, such as tannins and phytates.
Vitamin C also reduces damages to the lining of your gastrointestinal tract caused by free radicals. It acts as an antioxidant that regenerates your cells and protects them from further damage. As such, it helps keep your intestinal lining free of fissures and inflammation.
Citrus fruits, pineapple, broccoli, and green peppers are sources rich in vitamin C.
Zinc is another critical mineral for digestion, activating digestive enzymes that are integral in the process of breaking down foods. It also helps strengthen the lining of your gut wall, which stops bacteria slipping into a damaged lining and causing inflammation.
Zinc aids in the healing process, and also in keeping a balanced bacterial level in the gut.
Food sources include corn, broccoli, almonds, lentils, beef, and oysters.
Selenium is a mineral you don’t hear much about, but it plays an integral role in keeping your body functioning properly. Free radicals that can damage your gut can lead to inflammation and cracks in the intestinal lining.
When it comes to gut health, selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting and healing your cells from oxidative stress from free radicals.
In addition, selenium enhances your gut’s inflammatory response. When you have a selenium deficiency, your body typically has trouble handling stress.
You can find selenium in chicken, tuna, pork, whole-wheat pasta, and tofu.
Vitamin D is another essential component of a healthy gut. It keeps inflammation at bay by targeting and neutralizing the source of inflammation and calming down the nervous system response.
Vitamin D can also keep a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut through encouraging the creation of anti-microbial molecules called ‘defensins.’ Studies have shown that high levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The best source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun, but it can also be found in fish, orange juice, fortified milk, mushrooms, and eggs.
Maintaining a healthy gut is incredibly important to ensure that your body gets the most nutrition from the foods that you eat.
The above-mentioned vitamins and minerals are essential in keeping your gut healthy, so make sure that you are monitoring what you eat to provide the nutrition it needs.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Men's Health
We all need vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning properly, and it’s important to know that men and women have different nutritional needs. Given the different physical characteristics and functioning, it makes sense.
Many men are missing out on obtaining adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the most pertinent vitamins and minerals that men require for optimal health.
Vitamin D, which is best sourced from sun exposure, is important for many reasons. One of the main functions is for the absorption of calcium, which keeps the bones healthy. Bone health is essential, especially for seniors. It’s not just women who develop weaker, brittle bones.
Vitamin D is also essential for keeping your testosterone levels balanced. If there is an imbalance, you may become prone to various health issues, including fatigue, low metabolism, and sleep apnea.
Men who experience vitamin D deficiency are more prone to heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and muscle weakness.
Not many foods contain vitamin D. However, you can find this essential vitamin in fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, as well as eggs and fortified milk and cereals.
Men who don’t like eating fruits and vegetables may experience lower levels of boron. It is an essential mineral that supports bone health, brain function, and immune response.
Studies have shown that boron helps promote prostate health. Boron impacts your body’s use of testosterone and vitamin D, and aids in the absorption of magnesium.
Apples, coffee, dried beans, milk, and potatoes are great sources of boron.
B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism, immune function, red blood cell production, iron absorption, and more. One of the most important B vitamins for men is vitamin B12, which supports brain health and DNA synthesis.
Low levels of B12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, memory problems, dementia, depression, constipation, and weight loss.
Vegetarians are more prone to developing a vitamin B12 deficiency because the best sources of this vitamin are found in animal-based foods. However, there are foods that can be added to a vegetarian diet, such as Shitake mushrooms and fortified cereals. Eggs are another great source if you are a vegetarian that includes eggs in your diet.
Other great food sources of vitamin B12 are salmon, tuna, liver, and sirloin.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral for your body’s overall health. It promotes strength and muscular health, testosterone production, sexual health, heart health, and better sleep.
Magnesium also prevents stress, anxiety, insomnia, muscle cramps, and high blood pressure. Many people are deficient in magnesium, so make sure to add magnesium-rich foods to your diet.
Food sources include spinach, almonds, banana, avocado, brown rice, soy products, and potatoes.
Folate, or vitamin B9, is one of the B vitamins that your body needs to maintain its required functions. Folate promotes heart health by preventing the buildup of homocysteine that can clog blood vessels. Folate also increases sperm count, which is why it is helpful for men with fertility issues.
A few servings of green leafy vegetables are often enough for you to get the right amount of folate. Spinach, asparagus, oranges, avocados, and strawberries are rich in folate.
Niacin, or vitamin B3, can lower blood cholesterol levels, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoarthritis. Niacin can also help address erectile dysfunction, especially if you have high cholesterol.
Whole wheat, almonds, and protein-rich foods are ideal sources of niacin.
Iodine plays a major role in regulating your hormones, particularly your thyroid. It helps produce T3 and T4 hormones. If you don’t get sufficient iodine, you are prone to hypothyroidism, which can greatly impact your weight. Iodine is also helpful for your immune health.
Iodine is present in yogurt, kelp, cranberries, cheese, and potatoes.
Vitamin K is recognized for its benefits to vascular health. It prevents calcium buildup in blood vessels and serves as a coenzyme, essential for bone metabolism and blood clotting.
Vitamin K can be found in broccoli, green leafy vegetables, soy, and fermented cheeses.
Men have specific health needs where the above vitamins and minerals can be of benefit. If you haven’t been mindful of your diet and lifestyle, you may have deficiencies in some of these essential vitamins and minerals.
Make sure you add the foods mentioned to your diet!
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Mental Health
Everyone knows there’s a connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illnesses, but not all are aware of how vitamins and minerals also affect mental health.
Most people think of mental health as being only an emotional or hormonal problem, rather than a possible vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Studies have shown that nutritional intervention can help reduce risks of developing certain mental illnesses, prevent their progression, and treat psychiatric disorders. Certain nutrients can have a positive impact on neurochemical activities that are crucial for mental health.
If you constantly experience bad moods, poor comprehension, or anxiety, you may be deficient in some of the most important vitamins and minerals for mental health.
Here are a few of the key vitamins and minerals that may prove beneficial.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain brain structure and function. Our body can’t produce essential fatty acids (EFAs), so we need to get them from our diet. Unfortunately, many people don’t consume enough beneficial fat due to an unbalanced diet, which is why taking supplements is often necessary.
Aside from helping our brain to function properly, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, bipolar depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Sardines, salmon, and mackerel are the foods that have the highest content of omega-3s. Other sources include nuts, seeds, and oysters.
B vitamins are essential for various cellular and metabolic processes in our body. When it comes to mental health, B vitamins have been found to play a crucial role in producing brain chemicals.
Folic acid, for example, has an antidepressant effect, which helps patients respond better to medications.
Vitamin B12, niacin, and thiamin, meanwhile, are essential for treating cognitive impairment, as well as in alleviating the effects of alcohol abuse, depression, and schizophrenia.
To help maintain a healthy mental state, eat foods that are rich in B vitamins, such as meat, eggs, whole grains, and nuts. If you need supplements, taking B-complex vitamins is ideal because B vitamins work well together.
Soaking in the sunlight for 15 minutes a day does not only contribute to our bone development, it also assists brain development. When you have a vitamin D deficiency, you are at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.
Getting the vitamin D you need can boost and improve your mood.
People who spend most of their day indoors, and who wear clothes that cover their skin when outdoors, are most likely not getting enough sunshine and their healthy dose of vitamin D.
Aside from taking up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D supplements, you can get this essential nutrient from foods, such as oily fish, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms.
If you feel anxious or depressed, it can be due to a lack of magnesium, which is essential for many brain chemistry reactions. Magnesium helps maintain your nerves, as well as your muscles, immune system, and blood glucose levels.
When you can’t stop your anxious thoughts, try incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet. These include dark chocolate, avocado, banana, almonds, and whole grains.
Have you ever heard that if you want to be happy, eat a banana? It’s because banana is rich in potassium, and potassium is an important mineral for maintaining signals that help your brain to function properly.
Low levels of this essential mineral can lead to mental fatigue, memory issues, anxiety, and depression. To some extent, a potassium deficiency can also increase your risk of developing schizophrenia.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, cantaloupes, apricots, grapefruits, soybeans, lentils, and nuts, to ensure that you get the potassium your body requires.
Poor mental health is not solely an emotional issue. It also stems from poor nutrition and unbalanced diets. While taking supplements should not be used as the only treatment for psychiatric disorders, ensuring that you get enough essential vitamins and minerals for mental health is a crucial component of recovery.
They can improve your mood, but more importantly, they contribute to good overall health and well-being.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Pain Relief
Our body experiences pain from inflammation, which is often due to physical trauma, an illness, or stress. However, not many realize that chronic pain may also be due to a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals. The culprit? Unhealthy lifestyle habits and an unbalanced diet.
Ensuring that your body receives sufficient nutrients can greatly help fight inflammation and relieve pain.
Here are some of the top pain-fighting vitamins and minerals you may like to try.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This one we’ll put at the top of the list, as most people have heard of this for easing painful joints. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish such as salmon and tuna, help the body to create chemicals that can reduce inflammation, effectively relieving swelling and pain.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two types of Omega-3s found in fish oil, which are essential in easing inflammation. They also support the body’s immune system. If you experience joint pain, omega-3s can reduce the symptoms, such as stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and discomfort.
At the same time, omega-3s contribute to the proper flow of blood throughout the body when you exercise, which prevents swelling and pain in the joints. Studies have shown that adequate amounts of omega-3s can improve chronic pain and inflammation, and even reduce patients’ reliance on pain medications.
Getting enough sunshine exposure gives you the vitamin D your body needs. When you experience menstrual cramps, you might want to ensure that you get outdoors, especially in the morning.
Studies have shown that women who take vitamin D before their menstrual period experience over 40% less pain in the pelvic area. As such, they often no longer need to rely on pain-relief medications to ease their menstrual cramps.
Vitamin D also regulates the body’s calcium metabolism, which is crucial for keeping the joints and bones healthy. This is why vitamin D is important for people with rheumatoid arthritis who experience chronic joint pain. Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
Getting out in the sun is great, but you can also eat vitamin D rich foods, such as salmon and canned tuna.
Alpha-lipoic acid is a type of fatty acid that your body produces to aid in metabolism and energy production. As an antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid has shown to be effective in reducing inflammation linked to several health issues, such as heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and insulin resistance. This fatty acid helps reduce symptoms of pain and tingling in the arms and legs.
Studies have shown that taking alpha-lipoic acid supplements of up 600mg per day can reduce neuropathic pain significantly. While your body can produce alpha-lipoic acid, you can boost it naturally with the right foods. Spinach, yams, potato, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and carrots are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid.
Taking vitamin C every day is excellent for your immune system and overall health. This essential vitamin has also been linked to providing pain relief. It also fights free radicals to prevent damage to cells and tissues, which lessens inflammation triggers.
While people normally think of citrus fruits as being the best sources of vitamin C, broccoli, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts have higher amounts of this essential vitamin. Don’t forget green leafy vegetables and berries too!
If you’re suffering from lower back pain, mouth sores, and other painful areas, you may want to check if you’re getting enough vitamin B12. This essential vitamin plays a key role in managing pain due to various conditions. Vitamin B12 is known to lower the levels of C-reactive protein, which is a sign of inflammation.
Eating animal products such as eggs, milk, fish, and meat will help you get the vitamin B12 that your body needs. If you’re a vegan, you may be more prone to vitamin B12 deficiency, as plants don’t have enough of this essential vitamin. Therefore, supplementation will be necessary.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Seniors
Most people can get the right amounts of vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat if they eat a healthy diet. However, as people age, the body becomes less efficient in absorbing nutrients, and this is where supplements may prove to be helpful.
As we age, our body’s needs also change, which is why the amounts of essential vitamins and minerals that we need differs from when we were younger. We may need specific nutrients in a higher dosage to keep the body healthy and strong.
In this section, we list some of the essential vitamins and minerals that seniors need the most.
Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining a healthy brain and spinal column, ensuring that the nerves are functioning optimally. This vitamin is also necessary for producing red blood cells. A vitamin B12 deficiency often leads to agitation, confusion, hallucinations, and anemia.
As people age, the body absorbs less of this vitamin, which is why supplementation may become necessary. An increase in the consumption of vitamin B12-rich foods, such as fish, meat, and eggs, is recommended. Each day, your body needs 2.5 mcg of vitamin B12.
Seniors are more prone to developing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. However, keeping the bones as strong as possible can be achieved with the right care, which includes the correct diet.
The body absorbs less calcium as you age, so consuming a healthy amount of calcium is essential. When your body has insufficient calcium, the body will use the calcium stored in the bones, making them brittle and prone to fractures.
Calcium intake needs to be balanced with specific vitamins and minerals that are essential for calcium uptake. Therefore, make sure your doctor is aware that you are taking calcium supplements, as you may need to be taking magnesium supplements too, and possibly vitamin D.
Dairy products, broccoli, kale, tofu, and calcium-fortified juices are foods that can be added to the diet. Men who are 51 to 70 years of age should be consuming 1,000 mg of calcium daily, while those 71 and above need 1,200 mg. Women aged 51 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium every day.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, and therefore maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D is essential for many body processes and can help cut the risk of chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
We are supposed to get vitamin D from exposure to the sun, but as we age, the skin becomes less efficient in synthesizing vitamin D from the sunlight. You can get an added boost of vitamin D from the foods you eat. Good food sources are salmon and tuna.
Seniors aged 51 to 70 need 15 mcg to 100 mcg of vitamin D daily, while 71 and over need 20 mcg to 100 mcg.
Many seniors suffer from high blood pressure, and potassium can help reduce high levels. At the same time, potassium helps keep the bones healthy and reduces the risk of kidney stones.
Seniors need to get 4,700 mg of potassium every day, but that can be hard to achieve from food alone. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, particularly bananas, prunes, plums, and potatoes, can help you reach the daily recommended amount.
Other potassium-rich foods to include in your meals are meats and dairy products.
Iron is essential for producing red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout your body. This mineral is vital for preventing anemia, which causes fatigue. Seniors often can’t absorb enough iron, which is why they are at increased risk of anemia. A lack of iron can lead to an impaired immune system and slow mental functioning.
Adults who are 51 years of age and above need 8 mg of iron every day. Eating iron-fortified cereals, oysters, white beans, lentils, spinach, tofu, and nuts can help you get the recommended iron your body needs.
Vitamins and mineral deficiencies are common, and seniors are particularly at risk because the body’s ability to absorb nutrients declines with age. Knowing the essential vitamins and minerals that your body has trouble absorbing as you age can assist you in keeping your body healthy.
Eating a healthy balanced diet is often enough for supplying the body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs.
If you suspect that you are not getting enough, talk to your doctor first before you start self-diagnosing and administering.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Skin Health
Our skin will naturally wrinkle as we age, and there is no way of stopping nature either. It naturally loses elasticity over time. While we can’t stop the clock, we can help prevent our skin from experiencing premature signs of aging.
Even though no amount of lotions and potions will stop natural aging, we are still bombarded with different skincare advertisements, and people believe them, or at least hope they will work. While skincare products are abundant, and yes, they feel good on the skin, there is one important thing that you should do, and that’s to take care of your skin from within.
Foods such as green leafy vegetables can keep your skin healthy. The reason is that there are essential vitamins and minerals in certain foods that help keep your skin healthy.
Here is a list of vitamins and minerals that can guide you on what foods to look for or any additional supplementation that may be helpful.
While the sun can give us vitamin D that is essential for our health, exposure to harsh sunlight is the number one cause of wrinkles. So you need vitamin D, but you also need to minimize exposure to the sun when its damaging rays are strongest.
Vitamin A helps protect the skin against the damage of harmful UV rays. It also increases the production of collagen to make the skin tighter and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. At the same time, vitamin A assists in the production of new blood vessels that are essential in the coloration of the skin. Essentially, vitamin A makes your skin glow.
Include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, beef, and eggs in your diet.
Similar to vitamin A, vitamin E aids in counteracting the harmful effects of sunlight on the skin. Vitamin E heals the skin and helps reduce wrinkles. This essential vitamin can help reduce the production of cancer-causing cells. Studies have shown that a combination of vitamin A and E reduces basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) by up to 70%.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can provide you with vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are rich in vitamin E.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Healthy fats lubricate the skin, which will help keep it looking radiant. When your body lacks healthy fats, your skin looks dry and can start to sag.
Omega-3 fatty acids are classed as healthy fat. Our body needs omega-3s to build cell walls, effectively blocking chemicals that can lead to skin cancer growth. Omega-3s can also reduce inflammation and fight the signs of aging.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, including salmon and tuna, as well as flaxseed and safflower oils.
Eating foods that are rich in protein provides the body with what it needs to produce amino acids. These essential building blocks help produce other proteins, such as collagen and keratin, which are excellent for skin health.
Collagen and keratin form the structure of the skin, as well as protect it from UV ray damage and free radicals.
Eggs, almonds, chicken, broccoli, and cottage cheese are protein-rich foods. Incorporate these into your diet so your body can produce its essential range of amino acids.
Have you noticed any sagging or bruising on your skin? That’s possibly due to a lack of or insufficient collagen, which is what makes the skin firm. Vitamin C is a vital element in the production of collagen.
Vitamin C counters the effects of harsh sunlight and pollution and improves skin elasticity. A vitamin C deficiency can result in fragile skin and easy bruising, which is one more reason why eating vitamin C-rich foods is important.
You can find this vitamin in citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and many other foods.
Even though you may take good external care of your skin, if you really want to care for your skin, start from the inside.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Women's Health
Our body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly, and we obtain many of them from the food we eat. The vitamins and minerals that a woman needs vary depending on her age group, lifestyle, activity levels, and medical conditions.
Here are a few essential vitamins and minerals that a woman needs, and foods to obtain them from.
As you age, your risk of developing osteoporosis increases, which is why calcium is important. Calcium helps keep bones healthy, minimizing the dangers of fractures.
Calcium also helps ensure you’re your brain and muscles can communicate efficiently with each other. When you reach 50, your daily requirements are 1,200 mg of calcium.
Calcium-rich foods include milk, cheese, low-fat yogurt, tofu, orange juice, cereals, and dark green leafy vegetables.
People don’t often get enough vitamin D from the sun, which is the best source of this vitamin. Vitamin D works with vitamin C in keeping bones healthy. This vitamin also reduces inflammation in the cells and boosts your immune system.
Women who are in the postmenopausal stage, obese, or if they don’t have enough exposure to the sun need vitamin D the most.
If you are in your 50s, make sure that you get 600 UI of vitamin D daily.
Those women who are 70 years old should be getting 800 UI per day.
There are not many foods that contain this essential vitamin, so make sure that you include tuna, salmon, fortified low-fat milk, soy beverages, and cereals in your diet.
Bearing a child places big demands on a woman's body. This is a time when you need folic acid or folate. Whether you are pregnant or planning to fall pregnant, folate supplements are often recommended.
Folate helps your body produce new blood cells and support the development of the baby in your womb to prevent birth defects.
When you are of childbearing age or up to 50 years old, the daily recommended folate amount is 400 mcg. This increases to 600 mcg when you’re pregnant and 500 mcg when you are breastfeeding.
Folate is available in many vegetables, such as spinach, beans, broccoli, potatoes, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body, supporting countless functions from blood pressure regulation, bone growth, cognitive development, and many more. Magnesium helps prevent bone loss, ensures a healthy pregnancy, regulates sugar levels, and decreases risks of heart disease and diabetes.
Women of all ages need magnesium, but those who are 40 years and older need more magnesium for bone health.
Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, such as almonds and peanuts, avocado, quinoa, spinach, yogurt, and tofu.
Aside from creating healthy blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body, iron is an essential mineral for reproductive organs and body functions. It helps produce certain hormones, as well as connective tissues.
Menstruation causes women to lose a significant amount of iron every month. Not enough iron in the body can lead to anemia. Pregnant women also need more iron to supply enough blood for the baby in the womb.
Women in the 19 to 50 years of age group need 18 mg of iron daily, while those aged 51 and older need 8 mg. When you are pregnant, you need as much as 27 mg every day.
Ensure that your diet includes lean red meat, chicken, liver, tofu, spinach, seafood, nuts, strawberries, orange juice, fish, and eggs.
Vitamins and minerals are vital for overall well-being, although women need some of them in different amounts than men do. They help you produce energy, heal wounds, have a stronger immune system, produce red blood cells, and maintain healthy bones.
Usually, you should be able to get sufficient of the right vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. However, if you suspect that you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet, it is best to consult your doctor.
Don’t just start taking multivitamins, especially if you are experiencing symptoms of medical conditions, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
From what you have just read, you will have seen that some foods are much greater than average when it comes to delivering our essential nutritional requirements.
These are what are commonly known as superfoods. However, our needs are diverse, and there are specific vitamins and minerals that are also essential to our health and wellbeing that must come from other sources.
There was a time when our dietary requirements could be met by the usual diet of the day. Today, we have been largely led or coerced away from a fresh, natural-based diet, tempted instead by calorie-dense, super-tasty, highly processed, but, sadly, nutrient-deficient replacements.
To achieve and maintain the best health possible, take the time to determine your needs, based on your particular demographic, and then seek out the foods that will supply those needs.
Where diet alone cannot supply your requirements, supplementation may be required. Remember, food is your medicine, but don’t be to slow to reach out for professional advice if your health is suffering.