You can find almost all 26 of the most important vitamins and minerals your body is probably craving right in the produce aisle!
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of some of the most important vitamins we need. Vitamins like beta-carotene (Vitamin A precursor), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. They are also rich in essential nutrients like folate, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, selenium, and zinc. Some of these vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and selenium, are also antioxidants that help protect the body from damage by oxidative stress and counteract inflammation (2).
There are many sources of the 26 vitamins and minerals that your body needs to keep things running smoothly. The Harvard Medical School published a special health report: Making Sense of Vitamins and Minerals that outlines the best ways to get the nutrients you need from all the different types of produce available in the supermarket.
It is broken down into 2 categories of vitamin sources: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are dissolved in water, before they are absorbed into the body’s tissues, and are metabolized more quickly than fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and can be stored in your body.
B-1: watermelon, acorn squash
B-2: whole and enriched grains and cereals.
B-3: fortified and whole grains, mushrooms, potatoes
B-5: whole grains, broccoli, avocados, mushrooms
B-6: legumes, tofu, and other soy products, bananas
B-7: Whole grains, soybeans
B-9: Fortified grains and cereals, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, legumes (black-eyed peas and chickpeas), orange juice
B-12: fortified soy milk and cereals
Vitamin C: Citrus fruit, potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts
Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, spinach, mangoes
Vitamin D: Fortified milk, mushrooms, and cereals
Vitamin E: vegetable oils, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts
Vitamin K: Cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale
Minerals can be classified into major minerals and trace minerals. You need 100 mg of major minerals and less than 100 mg of trace minerals each day.
Calcium: yogurt, cheese, milk, salmon, leafy green vegetables
Magnesium: Spinach, broccoli, legumes, seeds, whole-wheat bread
Potassium: meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes
Sodium: salt, soy sauce, vegetables
Chromium: meat, poultry, fish, nuts, cheese
Copper: shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole-grain products, beans, prunes
Fluoride: fish, teas
Iodine: Iodized salt, seafood
Iron: red meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, green vegetables, fortified bread
Manganese: nuts, legumes, whole grains, tea
Selenium: Organ meat, seafood, walnuts
Zinc: meat, shellfish, legumes, whole grains
By incorporating a number of these foods into your everyday diet, you consume the essential nutrients needed to keep you healthy. Together, these vitamins and minerals perform countless roles in your body which include healing wounds, boosting the immune system, supporting cell and organ activity, and repairing the damage.
Each of the vitamins has different roles in keeping your body healthy. The B vitamins are important for ensuring proper functioning of the body’s cells, aiding in metabolic processes, and creating new blood cells. Vitamin A plays a key role in strengthening the immune system and maintaining eye health, and vitamin C are essential for tissue growth and development. Vitamin D controls the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, and vitamin k aids in blood clotting.
Minerals also have various functions. Calcium is necessary for strong bones, and sodium and potassium allow muscle and nerve functioning. Chromium is necessary for breaking down fats and carbohydrates. Fluoride protects the bones and teeth, and iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormones.
Clearly, vitamins and minerals are essential for a number of different functions in the body, which is why it is so important to include all these vitamins and minerals into your diet. Regular consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods (as listed above) will allow your body to function well. We’re very lucky that we have such great access to so many of these 26 important vitamins and minerals right in our produce aisle all year round.
Get a free consultation virtually or in-person with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist today and get a custom meal plan with the right blend of vitamins and minerals optimal for your body composition!
- Volpe, Stella Lucia. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Prevention of Chronic Disease : ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.” LWW, June 2019, journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2019/05000/Fruit_and_Vegetable_Intake_and_Prevention_of.10.aspx
- Arulselvan P;Fard MT;Tan WS;Gothai S;Fakurazi S;Norhaizan ME;Kumar SS;. (n.d.). Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27803762/
- F;, M. K. (2018, June 13). The Impact of Dietary Fiber on Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29902436/
- Publishing, Harvard Health. “Fill up on Phytochemicals.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fill-up-on-phytochemicals.