Essential vitamins & minerals

Essential vitamins and minerals

Here is a list of key nutrients and some ideas for how to include them in your family’s diet. We have tried to include as many plant-based sources as possible and we have intentionally left out dairy products as ‘best sources’ because of recent meta-analyses which suggest that dairy products should be consumed in moderation, if at all.

Calcium
Best sources: Almonds, leafy green vegetables, seaweed, broccoli, spinach, salmon, sardines.
Essential for bone growth and strength, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and the transmission of nerve signals.

Note Calcium interferes with iron absorption, so try to avoid mixing calcium-containing foods with high iron foods, as small children can easily become anaemic. No study has ever shown that eating

Choline (Vitamin B complex)
Best sources: Liver, eggs.
Plays a key role in the production of cells and neurotransmitters.

Chromium
Best sources: Onions, tomatoes, meats, poultry, fish, some whole grains
Helps control blood sugar levels.

Copper
Best sources:Chick peas, kidney beans, peas, seafood, nuts, seeds, whole grains.
Important in the metabolism of iron.

Fibre
Best sources: Peas, lentils, black beans, fruits, vegetables, breads, whole grains.
Helps with digestion and the maintenance of blood sugar levels; reduces the risk of heart disease.

Folic Acid (Folate)
Best sources: Dark/leafy vegetables, wheatgerm, beans, watercress, fennel
Key for the development of cells, protein metabolism and heart health; in pregnant women, helps prevent birth defects.

Iodine
Best sources:Seaweed, cod, iodized salt, eggs and seafood, whole food supplements.
Important in the production of thyroid hormones.

Iron
Best sources: Chick peas, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, beef, eggs.
Key component of red blood cells and many enzymes.

Note Calcium and tannins interfere with iron absorption, so try to avoid mixing calcium-containing foods with high iron foods, as small children can easily become anaemic. As an adult, do not drink tea or coffee within an hour of consuming high iron foods.

Magnesium
Best sources: Green leafy vegetables, Brazil nuts, almonds, soybeans, halibut, quinoa.
Helps with heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, bone strength.

Note Calcium and Magnesium are both required – along with Vitamin D – for optimal bone strength.

Manganese
Best sources: Garbanzo beans, spinach, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, mustard greens, kale, chard, nuts.
Important in forming bones and some enzymes.

Molybdenum
Best sources: Legumes, nuts.
Key in the production of some enzymes.

Phosphorus
Best sources: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and tahini, peas, nuts, meat and eggs
Allows cells to function normally; helps the body produce energy; key in bone growth.

Potassium
Best sources: Sweet potato, bananas, yellowfin tuna, soybeans.
Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones.

Selenium
Best sources: Organ meats, seafood, some plants (if grown in selenium-rich soil), Brazil nuts.
Protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone.

Sodium
Best sources: Sea salt, stock, Tamari, seafood.
Important for fluid balance. Babies and children should eat no more than 2g of sodium per day (which they will easily reach from foods without adding extra salt).

Vitamin A
Best sources: Liver, fermented cod liver oil. sweet potato with peel, carrots, spinach.
Necessary for normal vision, immune function, reproduction. The liver converts beta carotene into Vitamin A – so the requirement is for beta carotene not of Vitamin A.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Best sources: Sesame butter (tahini), sunflower seeds, dried herbs and spices, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, fish and pecans
Allows the body to process carbohydrates and some protein.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Best sources: Venison, crimini mushrooms, spinach, tempeh, almonds, eggs
Key in metabolism and the conversion of food into energy; helps produce red blood cells.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Best sources: Yeast extract, Meat, fish, poultry, liver, paprika, veal.
Assists in digestion and the conversion of food into energy; important in the production of cholesterol.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Best sources: Chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, tomatoes.
Important in fatty acid metabolism.

Vitamin B6
Best sources: Bell peppers, spinach, baked potatoes (skin included), green peas, yams, broccoli, asparagus, turnip greens, nuts, seeds and organ meats.
Important for the nervous system; helps the body metabolize proteins and sugar.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Best sources: Liver, fruits, meats.
Helps with the synthesis of fats, glycogen and amino acids.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Best sources: Fish, poultry, meats.
Important in the production of red blood cells.

Vitamin C
Best sources: Red and green peppers, kiwis, oranges, strawberries, broccoli.
Antioxidant that protects against cell damage, boosts the immune system, forms collagen in the body.

Vitamin D (Calciferol)
Best sources: Fish liver oils, fatty fish, enriched eggs. The only way to get sufficient Vitamin D is to spend adequate time in the sunshine or to take a Vitamin D supplement, which are safe for babies and given as standard in Scandinavia. The optimum amount of Vitamin D for children over the age of 6 months is thought to be around 1,000 iu per day. Crucial in metabolizing calcium for healthy bones

Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)
Best sources: Sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, mustard greens, swiss chard, spinach, kale, tropical fruits, bell peppers.
Antioxidant that protects cells against damage.

Vitamin K
Best sources: Green vegetables like spinach, collards, and broccoli; brussels sprouts; cabbage.
Important in blood clotting and bone health.

Zinc
Best sources: Red meats, some seafood, pumpkin and squash seeds, cocoa powder, crab
Supports the body’s immunity and nerve function; important in reproduction.

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