Some of the Alphabetical letters from A (i.e. vitamin A) to Z (zinc) play a very important role in fuelling our body with healthy food before you turn to supplements. It is very vital that we eat a balanced diet or wholesome meal with all types of vitamins and minerals etc present in them for growth of our body.
Every essential vitamin or mineral is important for proper functioning of our body development and growth. Most of the vitamins and minerals are readily available in plenty of foods that we eat every day, as long as you actually eat a nutritive balanced meal which includes a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and fish. But the actual problem is that we get carried away or tempted with foods that are readily available not realizing or overlooking that the processed foods contain high amounts of fats, salts and sugar added which may harm our health in the long run.
These types of foods may fill your belly but may not supply the adequate amount of vital nutrients required. It is recommended that eating fresh vegetables and fruits in their natural way or partially cooked is more beneficial and preserves their goodness. Listed below are the top essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for human body.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a very essential vitamin for human body mainly required for vision, boosting of immune function and great skin health. It is a fat soluble vitamin. There are two different types of vitamin A available in our diet. One is the found in animal products such as meat, poultry, dairy foods and poultry and the other type is pro-vitamin A found in plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables. The most common type of pro-vitamin A is beta-carotene.
Vitamin A aids build immunity in children. Study has shown that children with vitamin A deficiency have increased vulnerability to infections like diarrhoea and measles and could also lead to blindness. Vitamin A helps in performing bodily functions and plays a direct role in performing physiological functions.
Above all these, vitamin A prevents signs of ageing as it has antioxidants which not only prevent free radical damage but also help in skin renewal. Last but not the least, vitamin A mainly improves your eyesight and helps in distinguishing between light and dark.
Foods rich in vitamin A: Vitamin A can be sourced from either plant or animals. Some of the animal foods rich in vitamin A are meat, liver, kidney, cod liver oil, halibut fish, eggs, fortified milk, cheese and cream. Vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, winter squash, spinach, squash and kale are rich source of vitamin A. Other sources of beta-carotene (vitamin A) include bright yellow and orange fruits like cantaloupe, apricots, grapefruit etc.
Vitamin B: Vitamin B group are water-soluble and the body does not store them. Vitamin B helps the body to convert carbohydrates (food) into glucose (fuel) which is later burned to produce energy. Vitamin B is necessary for hair, eyes, and healthy skin. Vitamin B is good for immune function, iron absorption and energy production.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is necessary for proper function of the nervous system. Not only because it is vital for the production of energy which is required in large amounts by the brain, but also because Vitamin C is in the production of neurotransmitters. Vitamin C is used for various functions in the body.
The most prominent is the proper production of Collagen, which is the elastic material, used by the body in mucous membranes, cartilage, veins and arteries. It is also used by the body for many different functions including converting carbohydrates into energy and its uses as an antioxidant.
Foods rich in vitamin C: The excellent sources of vitamin C we get from fresh fruits and vegetables especially citrus fruits. Apart from just oranges, other popular citrus fruits are Sweet limes, Lemon, Gooseberry (amla), black berries etc. Other fruits are black currants, guava, tomatoes, strawberries and papaya. Other fruits and vegetables include tomatoes, fresh parsley, dried rosemary, broccoli, red and green peppers, kiwis, pineapple and brussel sprouts and cantaloupe.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in the human body. It can be obtain from direct sunlight. It helps in maintaining the function of the nervous and aids in absorption of calcium. It also helps to keep bones strong and healthy. Children with vitamin D deficiencies often develop rickets and weakening of muscles and bones. It is said that an average healthy adult, between ages 19 and 50 should take about 200 IU’s of vitamin D per day.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. It naturally exists in eight diverse forms. It is extremely crucial for our health as it helps in fighting and preventing several health and skin related problems. Infused with antioxidant properties, vitamin E aids in maintaining a youthful glow by warding off free radicals which is because of the presence of the useful fats in vitamin E which also offers the benefits of sun protection. In addition to this, it also works in maintaining a healthier liver, kidneys and heart.
Foods rich in vitamin E: Some of the popular foods are Almonds, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Plant oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, soya bean oil, groundnut oil etc, wheat germ, Hazel nuts, Pine nuts, Avocado, Parsley, Olives, Papaya etc.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is not a single nutrient but is a group of vitamins of similar composition. The other two main group of vitamin K are vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. K1 is mainly found in many green leafy vegetable while K2 is produced by bacteria in fermented foods or from meats, cheese and eggs. Vitamin K plays a vital role in helping the blood clot and preventing excessive blending.
Foods rich in vitamin K: Good sources of vitamin K are green leafy vegetable like spinach, collards, kale, mustard greens, parsley, swiss chard, green leaf lettuce, turnip greens etc. Vegetables high in vitamin K are Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Other sources that contain small amounts of vitamin K are fish, meat, eggs, liver and cereals.
Calcium: Calcium is very important for overall health. Every cell in our body uses calcium in some way or other. Areas in body where calcium is required are nervous system, muscles, heart and bone. Our bones store calcium in addition to providing support to our body. As we get aged, calcium is absorbed less causing our body to take more calcium from our bones.
Foods rich in Calcium: Calcium rich foods are milk, cheese and other dairy products.
Iron: Iron plays a very important role in our body. Its main role is to help our red blood cells transport oxygen to all parts of the body. It also plays an important role in specific processes within the cell that produce the energy for our body. There are two types of iron, one Haem Iron and the other is Non-Haem Iron. We generally obtain around 65 % of iron requirement from non-haem iron. One of the early symptoms of iron deficiency is tiredness and fatigue.
Foods rich in Iron: Haem Iron is found in animal-based foods like red meat, poultry and fish which is easily absorbed by the body while non-haem iron are found in plant-based foods like cereals, legumes, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, lentils and vegetables such as beans, spinach etc.
Other important minerals important to our body are folic acid, zinc, chromium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, sulfur, Magnesium etc. It is very important that we must have a nutritious balanced meal as our body requires an array of essential nutrients to run smoothly. They help us fight against diseases, builds our body and for proper growth and development of our body. So remember to include foods that are rich sources of these vitamins and minerals; eat and enjoy every meal to stay healthy and fit. So, do treat your family and kids with healthy, nutritious, freshly homemade foods.
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