No doubt you know that you need a wide range of vitamins and minerals in your diet but you might not be so clued up on why they’re so important and what they can do for your health. Vitamin C is an obvious one but there are lots of others that play important roles in your body and we don’t always get enough of them in our diet. Here are 6 essential vitamins and minerals that will help you to stay healthy.
If you want to keep your eyes and skin healthy, you definitely want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A in your diet.
There are two types of vitamin A: retinoids and carotenoids. Both are important for keeping skin, eyes, cells and tissues healthy and increasing immunity. The main difference is where you get them from. Retinoids are more readily found in animal products while carotenoids are usually plant based.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll find vitamin A in lots of orange foods, including carrots, sweet potato and cantaloupe melon. Some of the less obvious sources include kale, spinach, liver, eggs, milk, red peppers and mangoes.
Most of us will get enough vitamin A in our diet if we eat the right foods but be wary of supplementing as too much vitamin A can be dangerous, especially if you’re pregnant. Your body stores it rather than flushing out any excess and if it gets too high, it can be toxic. Stick to getting your vitamin A intake from foods and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!
This sweet potato salad is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy:
Vitamin E is more of an antioxidant than a vitamin and can help to protect your body against the damaging effects of free radicals. Without this, oxidative stress is a problem and this has been linked to lots of health issues, including serious ones.
Almonds are a great natural source of vitamin E. You can also eat sunflower seeds, soybeans, spinach, kale, asparagus, celery, cucumber and tomato to boost your vitamin E intake.
Here’s a nice recipe for an almond and raspberry shortbread:
If you’ve been lacking in energy and feeling out of breath lately, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough iron. Women can be particularly prone to iron deficiency anemia, thanks to the blood we lose at “that” time of the month! Iron helps hemoglobin, the pigment in red blood cells, to transport oxygen around the body.
Liver is a really good source of iron but if you don’t eat meat, you’ve still got plenty of other options. Spinach, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds can also give you an iron boost. Bonus points if you can team these with a vitamin C rich food so that the iron is absorbed more easily.
A good example of this combination is this sweet potato curry recipe is full of iron boosting chickpeas and spinach, plus vitamin C to help with absorption:
If chronic fatigue and muscle cramps are common problems for you, it may be a sign you need to up your magnesium intake. This is a mineral that lots of people are deficient in, which is bad news given how many key roles it plays in the body. From heart health to protecting against osteoporosis, this is one mineral you really don’t want to be lacking in!
Worried you’re not getting enough magnesium? You can get more of it through bananas, dark chocolate, leafy greens and pumpkin seeds.
These raw chocolate bars are a yummy, natural way to boost your magnesium levels:
Potassium is another mineral that can cause a lot of problems if you’re not getting enough of it in your diet. It’s involved in keeping muscles and nerves healthy and is also important for your kidneys and digestive system.
Good sources of potassium include avocado, bananas, potato, sweet potato, prunes and raisins. You can also drink coconut water, which often also contains other minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
These Banana and Sweet Potato Muffins are a great way to combine two potassium rich ingredients and is totally delicious:
Chromium is a mineral that lots of people have never heard but it’s really important for making sure every cell in your body gets vital energy. If you don’t get enough chromium, you may get sugar cravings.
You don’t need to eat much different to get enough chromium as whole grains, meat, most vegetables and some herbs all contain it.
This chicken curry recipe gives you a healthy dose of meat and veggies and is super easy to make too!
Eating a balanced diet full of whole foods is definitely the way to go for getting essential vitamins and minerals into your diet. Eating the rainbow and loading up your plate with lots of different colors every day will go a long way towards making sure you don’t become deficient in key nutrients.