Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for our body, and very important when it comes to taking care of our immune system. They are involved in multiple metabolic reactions. and although they do not provide us with energy, we need them for the proper functioning of the body.
It is essential that we take vitamins and minerals through food, and for this we need to eat a healthy diet. These are the necessary vitamins and minerals that you should ingest in your diet, and in what foods you can find them.
What are the most important vitamins for our body?
Vitamin A or retinol
It is a vitamin that is found in fat and is stored in the liver. This vitamin helps the formation and maintenance of soft and bone tissues, mucous membranes and skin. It also has an important role during pregnancy and lactation.
What foods contain vitamin A? Vitamin A is found actively in products of animal origin such as dairy products, fish, etc. It can also be obtained from plant foods since they have the inactive form that is provitamin A or carotenoids, one of the best known is beta-carotene.
This vitamin is an antioxidant that protects body tissue from substances that can damage cells, tissues and organs. It also plays an important role in helping the immune system as it has anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to its function in the cardiovascular system as it intervenes in the formation of red blood cells and in the coagulation cascade, enhancing the activity of Vitamin K.
What Foods Contain Vitamin E? This oil-soluble vitamin is found in plant-based foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.
Group B vitamins
Group B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that help the absorption of nutrients during digestion, as well as in protein metabolism. Also vitamin B9 is present in cell regeneration and division.
What foods contain vitamin B? We can find them in different foods:
- Vitamin B1 or thiamine: we can find it in vegetables such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, or in foods of animal origin such as eggs or beef (45).
- Vitamin B2 or riboflavin: we can find it in milk, blue fish, spinach, broccoli, etc. (46)
- Vitamin B3 or niacin: rice bran, peanuts, white and lean meat, fish, ect. (47)
- Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid: Wheat and rice bran, eggs, mushrooms, chickpeas, etc. (48)
- Vitamin B6: poultry, fish, potato, non-citrus fruits, etc. (49)
- Vitamin B7 or biotin: nuts, peanuts, cereals, milk, blue fish, etc. (fifty)
- Vitamin B12: it is a vitamin that is only found in foods of animal origin such as fish, eggs, milk, poultry, etc. (44).
- Vitamin B9 or folic acid: legumes, citrus fruits, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, shellfish, etc. (51)
Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium and keeps the immune system working. It is produced mainly in our body through exposure to the sunThat is why it is important that you go out to sunbathe 20 minutes a day, and if it is cloudy do not worry, the important thing is not direct exposure. Still it is important to consume products that contain provitamin D.
What foods contain vitamin D? We can find it in dairy products, oily fish and mushrooms.
Vitamin C has a strong role in the proper functioning of the immune system with a great antioxidant function.
What Foods Contain Vitamin C? We can find it in citrus foods such as kiwis, red pepper, strawberries, spinach, citrus fruits, etc.
What are the most important minerals for our body?
Minerals are substances that our body needs in small amounts, if we compare them with macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Our body uses minerals for several different functions, such as the maintenance of bones, the proper functioning of the heart and brain, etc.
We can classify them into three groups
They are minerals that are found in large quantities in our body, whose dietary needs are high. Among them we find:
- Football: This mineral is found in all types of dairy products, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. It contributes to the well-known function of keeping our bones healthy, but it also participates in other functions such as the transmission of the nerve impulse, allows muscle contraction, and is necessary for proper blood coagulation.
- Match: It is abundant in almost all types of food, although mainly in those rich in protein: meat, fish, milk, legumes…. Among its functions we could highlight the essential role, which it plays together with calcium in the formation and maintenance of bone structure. It is also part of important molecules such as DNA and RNA, cell membranes, proteins, and enzymes.
- Magnesium: Chlorophyll has a magnesium atom in the center of its molecule, which is why this mineral is abundant in a large number of vegetables, but also in other foods such as legumes and meats. Along with Calcium and Phosphorus, it forms part of the bone structure, it also participates in the transmission of the nerve impulse and is necessary for various enzymes.
Minerals that, although just as necessary, due to their lower abundance in our body, we need in smaller quantities. Among them would be the following:
- Iron: This mineral is found both in foods of animal origin (shell shellfish, red meat) and in those of plant origin (legumes, green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts). Iron is necessary to form "hemoglobin", an essential protein found in red blood cells, carrying oxygen through the blood. In turn, it is part of the "myoglobin", which serves as a store of oxygen in the muscle, and participates in an essential process to obtain the energy we need, called "cellular respiration".
- Selenium: It is found in meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, as well as in vegetables and in nuts or seeds.
It is considered an anti-aging cellular element, since together with vitamin E, it participates in the antioxidant action of our cells. It also contributes to the optimal functioning of the immune system.
- Zinc: Animal meats are the main source of this mineral. Although there are also other good sources of zinc, such as whole grains, legumes, or dried fruits such as walnuts or peanuts.
It participates in the maintenance of the skin and wound healing, has an antioxidant function, and is essential for the correct development of the gonads.
- Iodine: It is found abundantly in seafood; fish, shellfish and seaweed. Another important source would be iodized salt, since using this to season our main meals, we obtain the recommended daily dose. Its main function lies in allowing the synthesis of a hormone known as "thyroxine", synthesized in the thyroid gland, necessary to control the metabolism of our body.
What foods provide these minerals?
Among the foods that provide Zinc, copper, iron and selenium we can find the following:
- Meat, fish, seafood, dairy products, nuts, legumes, whole foods and organ meats.
They are minerals that are commonly found dissolved in fluids, such as blood and other body fluids. Among them are:
- Sodium: A large amount of the mineral is found in added form in processed foods, causing an excess consumption in the body with harmful effects such as hypertension, overload on the kidneys, fluid retention ... But in the right dose, sodium has important functions , as participating in the maintenance of pressure in the blood vessels, is necessary for the transmission of the nervous impulse, and participates in muscle contraction.
By avoiding processed products, we can perfectly obtain the necessary dose, from the amounts found in food naturally, and from the salt used to season meals. Thus preventing its harmful effects and benefiting from the essentials.
- Potassium: In general, all vegetables and fruits are rich in potassium, also legumes and tubers. Finding appreciable quantities in products of animal origin. It could be classified as a sodium antagonist, since by maintaining a joint balance, it participates in obtaining the correct pressure in the blood vessels, contributes to muscle contraction, and allows the transmission of the nerve impulse.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are also important both to strengthen the immune system and to take care of the cardiovascular, visual and brain systems. Among the foods that provide these fatty acids we have:
- Nuts especially walnuts and almonds.
- Blue Fish (salmon, tuna)
Fiber, essential for the body
Fiber (especially soluble) is another component that helps the well-being of beneficial bacteria that reside in the intestine and plays an important role in the immune system
Among the foods that contain more fiber we have vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Probiotics, for the immune system
Probiotics are also good allies of the immune system, such as yogurts or kefir are fermented foods that provide good bacteria to the microbiota. There are other fermented canned foods such as sauerkraut.
For this to work we have to completely put aside excess sugars, saturated fats and ultra-processed foods.
In addition, all this healthy cocktail has to be accompanied by other healthy habits such as sufficient hydration, rest (adequate sleep hours), stress control, regular sports activity, healthy weight and elimination of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
As you can see, no single food provides all the nutrients we need every day. For this reason, it is essential to follow an adequate and balanced diet on a regular basis, in order to be able to provide the body with all the tools it needs to maintain our health, with greater functionality and avoiding the damages caused by an inadequate diet.