Experts agree — the best way to get the nutrients your body needs is through food. An incredible array of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, bioactives and other nutritive compounds not even yet discovered are packed into whole foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans, nuts and more.
Here are five popular vitamins and minerals you can get from your food rather than a supplement.
Why you need it: Vitamin A is important for normal vision, immune health and reproduction. It’s also an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals.
Where to get it: Yellow, orange and red foods tend to be packed with Vitamin A. For example, squash, carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, sweet potatoes and mangoes are all rich sources of this important vitamin. Spinach, fish, milk and eggs are also wonderful sources.
Why you need it: Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in healthy nervous system function and formation of red blood cells and DNA. It also prevents megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.
Where to get it: Animal sources are the best way to get Vitamin B12 – clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk all contain this important B vitamin.
Why you need it: While best known as an antioxidant, Vitamin C, is also an essential component of your connective tissue and is intricately involved in protein metabolism.
Where to get it: Citrus fruits are the stereotypical go-to source for Vitamin C but generally green, orange and red vegetables and fruits are all rich sources. For example, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, oranges and dark green leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard and spinach greens are all wonderfully nutritious sources of Vitamin C.
Why you need it: Calcium is not only important for bone health but also for healthy muscle function, nerve transmission and other critical metabolic functions.
Where to get it: I say calcium, you think dairy. But did you know leafy, green vegetables such as spinach, kale, arugula and collard greens are also wonderful sources? These tasty greens not only provide calcium but also Vitamin K2, magnesium and other nutrients that also play a critical role in bone (and overall) health.
Why you need it: Zinc is primarily known for helping the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses but it’s also important for making protein and DNA. This vitamin also helps heal wounds and is important for your senses of taste and smell, helping you fully enjoy the wonderful flavors of foods.
Where to get it: Oysters contain more zinc than any other food. Beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy products are also great sources of zinc.
The wonderful thing about whole foods is that they’re not limited to providing a single nutrient. Instead, they’re packed with an incredible array of nutrients that work synergistically to support overall health and vitality.
There are, of course, instances where vitamins and minerals in supplement form are appropriate. Also while vitamin and mineral supplements aren’t a substitute for a healthy whole foods diet, nobody’s perfect when it comes to healthful eating. Talk to your naturopathic doctor or nutritionist about your diet and if supplements may be appropriate for you.