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A Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals

While supplements can plug any gaps in your vitamin profile, researchers have found that getting vitamins & minerals from food over pills can help increase longevity. Deficiencies in vitamins or minerals can have a range of negative impacts on your health.

 

In instances of food allergies or intolerances, it may not always be easy, or even possible, to get your vitamins or minerals from food. This is where supplements can help. To discover your food sensitivities, you can take an intolerance test. Here we look at vital vitamins and minerals, how they contribute to your health and the best foods to hit your daily requirements.

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Learn more about essential vitamins and minerals, including the health benefits and rich food sources, below.
 

Vitamin A

Health Benefits 


Eyesight
Has been shown to help prevent night blindness and age-related degradation.

Supports Immune System
Involved in the production of white blood cells and maintenance of mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs and gut. Vitamin A deficiency can increase your susceptibility to infections.

Acne
Acne is, physically, harmless. However, it can cause low self-esteem leading to mental health issues, including depression. Vitamin A deficiency leads to an overproduction of keratin in hair follicles that makes it harder for dead skin cells to be removed, leading to blockages.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Dry Skin

Dry Eyes

Night Blindness

Poor healing of wounds

Acne

Vit A Rich Foods 


Sweet Potato

Carrots

Spinach

Broccoli

Beef Liver

 

Some of the above foods may not agree with you, find out which with a food intolerance test.

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Vitamin B

Health Benefits 


There are several B Vitamins, all with different health benefits:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Kidneys – In those with diabetes, thiamin has been shown to reduce the amount of albumin present in urine. Albumin is a crucial indicator of kidney damage.

Menstruation Pains – Research has found that taking thiamine for 90 days is shown to stop menstruation pains in girls aged 12-21

Metabolism – Vitamin B1 is vital to your body’s ability to convert carbohydrates into glucose, your body’s preferred source of energy.


Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Migraines – Research has found Riboflavin to be effective in reducing migraine frequency, and some studies have also seen an impact on the intensity of pain.

Heart Disease – Homocysteine is a risk factor in heart disease. Riboflavin supplementation has been shown to reduce the levels found significantly.

Blood Pressure – For those who saw homocysteine reduction, there was also evidence of a decrease in blood pressure.


Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Cholesterol – Niacin has been shown to significantly increase HDL cholesterol, otherwise known as “good cholesterol”. 

Triglycerides – Vitamin B3 has also been shown to reduce triglycerides which are a type of fat found in your blood. High levels can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Fat loss – Niacin has been linked with increased leptin levels. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body that it has enough energy stored in fat cells and require no more food. 


Folic Acid

Anaemia – A lack of folic acid results in folate-deficiency anaemia which leads to a low level of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Cancer – Folate intake can protect against certain cancers, including breast, lung and gut. This is because folic acid can regulate the turning on and off of genes. Low folate levels can lead to problems with this which can cause abnormal cell growth; a causing factor for cancer.

Heart Disease – Similarly to Riboflavin, folic acid has been shown to reduce levels of homocysteine


Vitamin B12

Pregnancy – Vitamin B12 is vital in the healthy development of fetus’ brain and nervous system and can reduce the risk of premature birth or miscarriage.

Bone Health – Low Vitamin B12 levels have been linked to decreased bone density, this can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition of weakened bones which are more likely to break.

Mood & Depression – Playing a role in the synthesising and metabolising of serotonin, Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with twice the risk of severe depression.


Signs Of Deficiency


Loss of appetite

Reduced Reflexes

Muscle Weakness

Blurred Vision

Nausea

Vit B Rich Foods 


Whole Grains

Red Meat

Eggs & Dairy

Seeds and Nuts

Leafy Vegetables

When considering foods that will improve your vitamin B levels, it is essential to find whether certain foods may cause you other problems. A food sensitivity can be identified using an intolerance test.

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Vitamin C

Health Benefits 


Colds
There is evidence that vitamin C can help reduce the risk of a cold developing into more severe conditions such as pneumonia. It has also been shown to reduce the duration and recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children.

Skin Aging
Studies have shown that Vit C can also contribute to the maintenance of a youthful complexion.

Strokes
Research is still conflicting, but some have shown an association with a 42% lower stroke risk for those with a high blood vitamin C levels. 

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Bumpy skin

Red spots or lines on fingernails

Easily bruised skin

Painful, Swollen Joints

Bleeding Gums/Tooth Loss

Vit C Rich Foods 


Guavas

Bell Peppers

Kiwi

Strawberries

Oranges

 

Some of the above foods may not agree with you, find out which with a food intolerance test.

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Vitamin D

Health Benefits 


Bone Health
Calcium and phosphorus are pivotal in maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D contributes to the intestine’s ability to absorb calcium which helps maintain bone strength.

Cancer
Evidence is showing that the further north you go, there is in an increase in certain types of cancer. This correlates with decreased vitamin D intake due to the lack of sunlight. One study found a 22% lower risk compared with people with low Vit D levels.

Weight Loss
Placebo based studies have shown that, when combined with calcium supplementation, vitamin D has an appetite suppression effect. For overweight people, it has been shown to improve heart disease risk markers.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Getting ill often

Fatigue or tiredness

Bone pain

Depression

Hair loss

Vit D Rich Foods 


Salmon

Canned Tuna

Oysters

Egg Yolks

Mushrooms

 

Before introducing new foods to your diet to boost your vitamin D levels, you should take an intolerance test to ensure you’re not eating something that may cause other problems.

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Vitamin E

Health Benefits 


Moisturising – Vitamin E, when applied to the skin, has been shown to have moisturising properties that can help combat dry, flaky skin.

Eczema – One study found that a vitamin E supplement can have significant positive effects on the symptoms of eczema. It has also been shown to enhance the effects of topical moisturisers.

Nail Health – Putting vitamin E on your nails overnight has been shown to prevent peeling, cracked and yellowing nails; associated with yellow nail syndrome. They can also prevent cracked cuticles. 

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Vision problems

Muscle weakness

Numbness

Immune system problems

Co-ordination problems

Vit E Rich Foods 


Almonds

Squash

Sunflower Seeds

Peanuts

Trout

 

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Vitamin K

Health Benefits 


Cognitive Function – Particularly in older adults, Vitamin K has been shown to lead to an improvement in memory.

Blood pressure – By preventing the build-up of minerals in the arteries, Vitamin K has been linked with the ability to reduce blood pressure. It is also linked with a reduced risk of stroke as a result.

Bone Health – There is a link between low vitamin K and osteoporosis. Several studies suggest improved bone density for those with a high vitamin K intake.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Easy bruising

Oozing from nose or gums

Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract

Blood in urine or stool

Heavy Periods

Vit K Rich Foods 


Leafy Vegetables

Pork

Beef Liver

Chicken

Prunes

 

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Calcium

Health Benefits 


Bones & Teeth – Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth. 99% of calcium in the body is stored in bones and teeth. Failure to consumer enough calcium will lead your body to meet its requirements by drawing from reserves in your bones. Long term, a lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis.

Muscle Function – Muscle contraction and relaxation is a result of increasing and decreasing levels of calcium inside muscular cells. Contraction occurs as a result of an influx of calcium into the muscle causing a chain reaction that causes the myofilaments to change shape and tighten. Once the muscle is instructed to contract, calcium supply is stopped and and calcium levels reduce leading to muscle contraction. Low calcium levels can lead to cramping and muscle irritability, whereas a high blood calcium level will cause weakness.

Blood Clotting- Calcium is also vital to the blood clotting process. Calcium combines with a substance called fibrinogen in the clotting cascade (the process which leads to blood clotting). This process could not occur without the presence of the appropriate levels of calcium in the blood and could potentially lead you to bleed to death from a small wound.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Muscle aches and pains

Extreme fatigue or insomnia

Dry, broken or brittle nails

Osteoporosis

Dental Problems

Calcium Rich Foods 


Cheese

Yoghurt

Sardines and canned salmon

Almonds

Milk

 

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Iodine

Health Benefits 


Thyroid Health – Your thyroid gland is responsible for hormone production. To make hormones, your thyroid requires iodine. Without appropriate levels of iodine in your system to draw on, your thyroid will produce less hormones which can have a number of negative outcomes. An underactive thyroid gland can lead to hypothyroidism.

Cognitive Function In Children – Iodine deficiency in utero can cause irreversible mental impairment. The treatment of iodine deficiency in young children can also lead to improved intellectual ability.

Goiter – Goiter is where your thyroid becomes enlarged. This can be due to several reasons but the most common cause is a lack of dietary iodine.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Swelling in the neck

Weight gain

Fatigue

Hair Loss

Feeling colder than usual

Iodine Rich Foods 


Cod

Tuna

Seaweed

Cheese

Iodised Salt

 

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Iron

Health Benefits 


Energy – Low iron levels are strongly correlated with fatigue and low energy levels. Iron supplementation may help contribute to an increase in energy levels.

Increase athletic performance – Athletes are more likely to be deficient in iron than the general population. Supplementing or increasing dietary intake of fiber can increase the body’s ability to transport oxygen around the body.

Sleep – Research has found a correlation between increased levels of blood iron and a marked improvement in quality sleep.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Pale complexion

Tiredness

Shortness of breath

Swollen and sore tongue or mouth

Restless Legs

Iron Rich Foods 


Liver

Meat

Beans

Nuts

Dried Fruit

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Magnesium

Health Benefits 


Calcium absorption – As discussed above, calcium is vital to good health. However, without magnesium, a high intake of calcium can lead to increased risk of arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease or kidney stones.

Diabetes – Magnesium is vital in the process of carbohydrate and glucose metabolization which has an impact on the risk of diabetes. Low magnesium levels have been linked to lower insulin sensitivity.

Heart Health – Optimum magnesium levels have been linked to a lower risk of fatty buildup in the arteries as well and also could help combat high blood pressure.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Loss of appetite

Fatigue

Weakness

Numbness

Muscle spasms

Magnesium Rich Foods 


Spinach

Kale

Chickpeas

Cabbage

Mackerel

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Potassium

Health Benefits 


Blood Pressure – Low potassium levels have been linked with high blood pressure. One study found that those with good blood potassium levels had a 49% lower risk of death from heart disease compared with people with a four times lower intake.

Muscle Mass – Potassium rich foods help the body to avoid a state of acidosis. Acidosis can lead to muscle wasting. Maintaining a high potassium intake can help the body to maintain an alkaline state and retain more muscle mass.

Nervous System – Your body’s messaging system is dependent on nerve impulses transmitting between your brain and your body. Nerve impulses are a result of sodium ions replacing potassium ions in the cells. Low potassium can affect your bodies ability to generate a nerve impulse.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Weakness & Fatigue

Digestive Problems

Mood swings

Breathing difficulties

Heart Palpitations

Potassium Rich Foods 


Bananas

Oranges

Cooked Spinach

Potatoes

Cucumbers

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Zinc

Health Benefits 


Immune System – Zinc supplements stimulate immune cells which is vital for immune function. They also reduce oxidative stress, keeping a balance between anti-oxidants and free radicals.

Aging – Zinc could potentially reduce your exposure to the risk of diseases such as pneumonia and age-related macular degeneration. One study founds that older adults supplementing zinc experienced boosted mental performance.

Inflammation – Oxidative stress causes chronic inflammation which can lead to several different diseases including heart disease, mental decline and cancer.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


 Altered/loss of taste and/or smell.

Anorexia

Apathy

Diarrhoea

Hair Loss

Zinc Rich Foods 


Meat

Shellfish

Nuts

Dairy

Eggs

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Phosphorous

Health Benefits 


Exercise Recovery – A study found that athletes using phosphates experienced lowered lactic acid levels and increased anaerobic endurance capacity.

Energy production – Phosphorus works in conjunction with B Vitamins to convert food into energy the body needs for fueld.

Bones and teeth – Phosphate binds with calcium to form the hard structure of your bones and teeth.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Anxiety

Fatigue

Irregular Breathing

Irritability

Stiff Joints

Phosphorus Rich Foods 


Turkey

Organ Meats (Liver, kidney, heart, etc)

Seafood

Dairy

Sunflower Seeds

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)

 

Sodium

Health Benefits 


Hydration – Sodium helps regulate fluid balance. As the major electrolyte it helps maintain the balance of fluid within the cells of the body.

Blood pressure – If you have low blood pressure, salt can help as it raises blood pressure by increasing the amount of water in the blood.

Sleep – Sodium helps maintain an optimum level of hydration. Overhydration can cause late night bathroom trips which interrupt your sleep.

 

Signs Of Deficiency


Weakness

Fatigue

Confusion

Irritability

Muscle Spasms

Sodium Rich Foods 


Salt

Seafood

Cured Meats

Parmesan

Processed Foods

Maintaining your vitamin levels are vital to leading a healthy lifestyle, as is being aware of the foods that may cause other symptoms of adverse health. You can find foods that may cause you problems with an intolerance test.

Other Vitamins & Nutrients (Back to top)