Common Vitamins and Minerals Explained

This article will explain the most common vitamins and minerals, vital to basic bodily functions.

Calcium

An important mineral involved in heart and nerve function, and also the growth and maintenance of bones and teeth. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products and fortified soy and rice milks, tinned fish with bones, almonds and legumes such as kidney beans and chick peas.

Iron

An essential mineral for the production of blood, the transport of oxygen and optimal growth and development. There are two forms of dietary iron. They include animal based sources, known as “haem iron” derived from meat, poultry, fish, eggs and offal meats, and plant based “non-haem iron” derived from tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrain products fortified with iron.

Magnesium

A mineral which assists the body in harnessing protein and energy consumed from food. Also has a significant role in optimal muscle and nerve function, and the formation of bones and teeth. Dietary sources of magnesium include whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Zinc

A mineral which is particularly important during stages of growth development including pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. Zinc is also involved in maintaining our immune system and tissue repair. Dietary sources of zinc include meat, poultry, fish, seafood, nuts, seeds and whole grains including brown rice, oats and fortified breakfast cereals.

Potassium

A mineral required for muscle contraction. It’s also involved in controlling the fluid balance in our blood and tissue. It maintains optimal nerve function and regulating our blood pressure. Dietary sources of potassium include fruits – particularly bananas, potatoes, spinach, milk, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Phosphorus

A mineral that works together with calcium in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. It is important in promoting growth, development and also in harnessing energy from food. Dietary sources of phosphorus include whole grains, dairy products, meat, poultry and seafood.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

These vitamins all assist the body in harnessing the energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins to energy, and cell production and growth. Dietary sources of thiamine include yoghurt, pork, seafood, whole grain foods and leafy green vegetables (B3).

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Assists the body in making and using stored energy in the liver. It also plays a role in carrying oxygen in the blood. Dietary sources include whole grains, meat, fish, poultry and starchy vegetables eg: potatoes.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Works with Folate to produce DNA and is involved in maintaining blood cell health. Dietary sources include yeast extracts such as Vegemite, fortified soy and rice milks, dairy products, meat, poultry and fish.

Folate (Folic acid)

Involved in the production and maintenance of red and white blood cells. It is an essential nutrient during pregnancy to reduce the risks of certain birth defects. Dietary sources of folate include green leafy vegetables, oranges, fortified whole grain products, dried beans and seeds.

Vitamin C

Involved the formation and maintenance of skin, bones and tendons. It assists wound healing and the absorption of iron. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage and maintaining immune function. Dietary sources include citrus, kiwifruit, strawberries, capsicum, broccoli and tomatoes.

Vitamin A

Important for maintaining vision and vision at night, skin health, growth and development. Dietary sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, carrots, eggs and seafood.

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