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VITAMINS, MINERALS & OTHER HEALTHY NUTRIENTS
Vitamins and minerals are essential to the human body. They perform hundreds of roles throughout your body, from your skin to your muscles, bone, organs, bloodstream and more.
Your body can’t produce enough of these nutrients on its own, so you must get them from other sources — like food. Learn about common vitamins and minerals, where they’re found and what they do for your body below.
- Calcium. Improves bone and teeth health and prevents osteoporosis (weak and fragile bones). Most common in dairy products.
- Fiber. Helps us digest food, lowers amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. Most common in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Folate/folic acid. Helps form red blood cells (which carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body) and helps prevent birth defects during pregnancy. Most common in whole grains and leafy, dark-green vegetables like spinach.
- Iron. Carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body. Most common in whole grains and proteins.
- Magnesium. Helps the body make protein and create energy. Also helps keep bones strong. Most common in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Most common in seafood.
- Phosphorus. Helps form strong bones, helps the body make energy. Most common in low fat dairy, nuts, and oats.
- Potassium. Helps your muscles and nervous system function. Most common in fruits, vegetables and dairy.
- Selenium. Strengthens the immune system (fights infections). Most common in whole grains.
- Unsaturated fats. See monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
- B vitamins. Protect against blood clots and the hardening of arteries. They also keep cells and the nervous system healthy. Most common in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.
- Vitamin A. Helps in development of cells, strengthens the immune system (fights infections). Most common in low fat dairy, eggs, orange/green vegetables.
- Vitamins C. Strengthens the immune system (fights infections). Most common in fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin D. Builds and maintains bones. Most common in dairy products.
- Vitamin E. Protects cells from damage from free radicals (unsafe chemical substances found in the body). Most common in fruits, vegetables and proteins.
- Zinc. Strengthens the immune system (fights infections). Most common in proteins.
The above nutrients are essential for your body, however other minerals and food additives exist that cause your body harm when consumed in excess amounts. Avoid foods that are high in the following:
- Saturated and trans fats. Leads to high cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Found in fatty beef, butter, cream, cookies, crackers, pies and cakes.
- Salt or sodium. Results in high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Found in bacon, potato chips, frozen pizzas, some canned goods.
- Sugar. Leads to insulin resistance, which increases risk of type 2 diabetes. Found in candy, cookies, soda and sweets in general.
OTHER NUTRITION BUZZWORDS
- Cholesterol. Type of fat found in your blood. Too much cholesterol can clog your blood vessels, which puts more pressure on your heart.
- Metabolism. Process in your body that converts what you eat and drink into energy.