Having excessive or insufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals can damage our system in the long run. Many splurge on supplements because they are perceived to be the key to optimising their bodily functions – it is true that vitamin and mineral supplements have the ability to prevent deficiencies that may contribute to chronic conditions.

However, overall, the exact benefits are still unclear as researchers continue to unravel the potential health benefits of them. In view of this, nutritionists, dieticians and the other relevant healthcare providers often maintain that eating a healthy and nutritious diet is more beneficial as compared to relying on dietary supplements.

This article covers a list of the key vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body as well as the foods that contain them; healthcare providers (particularly nurses) and laypeople alike can use this as a reference for information on the various nutrients as well as advice on what they should be consuming.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, hence generally healthy individuals do not have to worry about underconsuming it. Assorted brands of calcium tablets are plenty and easily available in the market.

Individuals can get the required amount of calcium daily by eating Greek yoghurt and collard greens. One cup of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt contains 328 mg of calcium while a serving of collard greens contains 357 mg.

Folate

A simple and cheap solution to get the daily intake of 400 micrograms (µg) of folate would be to go for the peas – black eyed peas or chickpeas. One cup of boiled black eyed peas contains 356 µg of folate while one serving of chickpeas contains 282 µg.

Another alternative is asparagus. Six stalks of asparagus (1/2” base) contain 134 µg of folate; a possible meal idea would be to whip up a dish of roasted asparagus with bacon.

Iron

Iron is responsible for haemoglobin production, cellular energy production and metabolising drugs in your body.

Individuals can indulge in dark chocolate or chocolate cookies as just one half of a 100g bar contains around 6.50 mg of iron. Lentils are also a good source of iron; one cup of cooked lentils has 6.59 mg of the nutrient. An alternative would be chuck beef - eight ounces of beef contains 7.21 mg. of iron.

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for over 300 enzymes in the body. It is also needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat, as well as protein synthesis and wound healing.

Cashews and black beans are also good choices for magnesium intake. One half cup of dry roasted cashews has 178 mg of magnesium and a cup of cooked black beans gives 120 mg of the mineral. For a mid-day snack, one possible idea is black bean burritos.

Potassium

Potassium is necessary for electrolyte balance and heart functions.

A rich source of potassium is prunes. Just one cup of dehydrated, low-moisture prunes can provide an individual with 1.4 g of potassium. Alternatively, they may try sun dried tomatoes which contain about 1565mg of the mineral per 100g or one Russel potato which contains 1.64g.

Zinc

Zinc is important for neurological and immune functions; yet, it is often overlooked. The best sources are shrimps, oysters or sirloin steak.

Eating just six ounces of cooked shrimp can provide an individual with 2.79 mg of zinc. Oysters provide 74 mg per serving. Steak lovers will get 12.08 mg of zinc by eating one serving of medium steak. For a healthy and hearty meal, individuals can try spicy beef with kimchi stew.

Additionally, peanuts can also be eaten for zinc. One half cup of oil-roasted peanuts contains 4.73 mg of the mineral.

So, individuals should pump up their nutrients the natural way so that they can stay in the pink of health. MIMS

Read more:
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Food cravings a sign the body is lacking certain nutrients
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Vitamin and mineral health supplements on the rise in Singapore: Too much of a good thing?

Sources:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/carolinekee/get-your-vitamins-from-foods-not-a-pill?utm_term=.kn5DL4z7e#.bn50N58nl
http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/vitamins-and-minerals.htm
www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/vitamins-minerals.aspx
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20660118,00.html
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamins-and-minerals-good-food-sources#1
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/supplements/art-20044894