Proud Tips | understand food sources of vitamins and minerals for body energy and healthy life.what they do in the body and what is food sources of vitamins and minerals for the body energy, it’s important to understand Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and Minerals, for good and smart health.

All about Vitamins and Minerals

All vitamins and minerals play an extremely important role in our body as catalysts, co-enzymes (these help enzymes), and co-factors (these support chemical or metabolic reactions) of our metabolic reactions. Vitamins and minerals don’t provide our body with any energy or calories but they are important so that we can use our energy or calories well. A high intake of processed food, stress and other lifestyle factors like smoking, late nights and inactivity are increasing our need for vitamins and minerals and reducing our ability to absorb them well.

None of these nutrients can work in isolation. For calcium to do its work in the body it needs 24 other nutrients to be present, in the right amount and at the right time; while iron requires adequate amounts of protein as well as vitamins B and C to be at hand, to form haemoglobin. You will need a well-rounded diet, regular exercise and to be in a relaxed state, to improve the efficiency of vitamins and minerals. Laloo Prasad Yadav, India’s most hated and loved politician, said at the Hindustan Times Summit recently: He could well be describing the way nutrients work in our body.

Gone are the days when only one party or one vitamin, mineral or macronutrient like carbs, proteins or fat ruled. Just like India has realised that the bigger parties need the help of smaller, unknown parties to create a central government, so should we realise that for fat loss and a lean body, the answer doesn’t lie in majority or single-party government (ie high protein, low carb or low-fat diets) but instead in coalition raj . Vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs and fat all need to get adequate representation in our diet so that each one of them can carry out their specific functions to the best of their abilities; only then can we enjoy optimum health (just like that ideal stable government at the centre).

Sources of Vitamins

Vitamin A

Found in whole and low-fat milk, dark leafy vegetables, all the orange, yellow vegetables and in the liver and kidney. Forms of vitamin A found in plant sources are called carotenes. We need it because it supports our immune functions, helps improve eyesight, is crucial for the growth and development of our body, and is a potent antioxidant which protects cells against free radicals. Take it when you’re stressed, or travelling.

One of the reasons why you get ill immediately after crash dieting or too much exercise or a period of stress is because of the deficiency of vitamin A. So if you have a stressed-out lifestyle, you are going to need some extra vitamin A—and the best way to do this is to increase your carotene content. So get more green, yellow and red in your plate.

The best time to take a supplement of vitamin A is after the most stressful period of the day, after a big workout or a long flight. Carotenes are also a good way of combating acne and help prevent cancer, maintain a healthy reproductive system and reduce vaginal infections.

Vitamin D

Found in our body, which produces vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight. It is the sunlight vitamin. To get this vitamin, get your daily dose of sunlight. The best time to do this is around sunrise (the sun is not harsh or harmful for the skin at this time). People of north India have a favourite activity in the winters. It’s called a sunbath. It’s a great way to get that daily dose of vitamin D, and of course to warm yourself up during the winters.

Apart from this, we can also get vitamin D from fish and egg yolks. Plants are not such a good source of this particular vitamin, but green leafy vegetables are your best bet. We need it because it aids calcium absorption. Bowing of legs, curving of the spine, loss of bone density, joint pain and discomfort have to do with vitamin D deficiency.

The elderly, especially those in nursing homes, are usually deficient in this vitamin because of their lack of sun exposure. It also has anti-carcinogenic properties, especially when it comes to breast and colon cancer. These forms of cancer are most common in places which don’t get enough sunlight.

Vitamin E

Found in polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn, soy, sunflower, safflower oil and seeds, nuts, whole grains. Processing and overcooking foods drastically reduce vitamin E content. So when you make maida out of wholewheat or pulp your vegetables as you do in pav bhaji, there is almost no vitamin E left in them. Asparagus, green leafy vegetables, berries and tomatoes are good sources of this one.

We need it because it protects the heart, keeps the skin young, prevents nerve and muscular weakness and is a powerful oxidant. Take it when you’ve eaten a lot of fried food, bakery products and consumed high amounts of fat. Fat gets broken down and damaged in our body by a process called oxidation; vitamin E prevents fat from turning toxic in our body. So if you ever consume pakoras, don’t forget your E. Working out, sun exposure, viral infections and diabetes all increase the need for vitamin E consumption.

Vitamin K

Found in green leafy vegetables, green peas, green tea, oats, whole grain. It’s the most neglected vitamin because vitamin K deficiencies are very rare. We need it because it plays a major role in blood clotting, which is why it’s a life-saving vitamin. Recent studies have also shown that it is important in preventing and treating osteoporosis, and for building healthy bones. So, an important vitamin for women, who are more vulnerable to this disease.

Take it if you are suffering from excessive menstrual bleeding: excessive bleeding is often a sign of low vitamin K levels. Any vitamin supplement should give you more than your quota.

Vitamin C

Found in most fruits and vegetables. Most animals can make their own Vitamin C: the human body however cannot. But the good news is that there is plenty of vitamin C in most of the food we eat. Vitamin B and C are water-soluble (and hence they are also depleted as our body loses water), so our body needs a fresh supply daily. Vitamin C can be easily lost by something as simple as cutting fruits and vegetables.

We lose it more when we keep them covered in a refrigerator. So anything that increases the exposure of fruits and vegetables can lead to almost 90% loss of vitamin C. We need it because it is critical to our immunity, helps manufacture hormones, collagen, maintains our respiratory system and lung function and is a powerful antioxidant.

Vitamin C also plays a role in protecting us against heart disease, has a supporting function of vitamin E in the body, and protects sperms from damage. Take it as a regular supplement. It’s vital if you’re a smoker (both active and passive), have a hectic social life and are dealing with a lot of stress.

Vitamin B

These are many Vitamins clubbed together: thiamin (Bl), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin (B12), all makeup what we call vitamin B or B complex. Found in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, eggs, fish and cheese. Of these, B12 is found mostly in non-veg sources, so vegetarians have to take extra care to include this vitamin in their diet. Curd and cheese have good levels of Bl 2, created through a fermentation process from milk (this fermentation increases B12 amounts).

We need it because it takes part in metabolic reac­tions, helps metabolise carbohydrates, aids digestion, improves nerve function and prevents depression. Take it as a supplement at the start of your day with your breakfast so that you can utilise nutrients better throughout the day. PMS and bad moods can be prevented with a good supply of vitamin B just before your periods. Vitamin B counteracts Chinese restaurant syndrome (symptoms are mild headaches, bloating and sometimes nausea) which we get by eating MSG, found increasingly in processed foods. For lustrous hair and pink nails look to B for help.

Fibre

This is the one nutrient in your food which is essential not just to prevent constipation or regularise digestion, but also to prevent you from overeating. It is truly zero on calories and just adds bulk to what you are eating. Foods with fibre take longer to chew and thus our eating time increases. (The brain registers that it is full only after 20 minutes). This gives the body a chance to know that the stomach is full, and reduces our chances of overeating. As the fibre moves in our intestine it picks up wastes and adds bulk to your stool (and not just your food).

So, it makes going to the toilet a pleasurable experience too. And here, it will reduce the time spent on downloading! It’s clear that fibre has many benefits for all of us who want clear stomachs, glowing complexions, lean bodies and a good fitness level. But don’t be stupid and buy fibre added foods or add fibre to your atta, sabzi, buttermilk, etc. This mindless addition of fibre will come in the way of the absorbing of vital minerals like calcium and iron. Instead, focus on eating unprocessed wholesome foods which are naturally rich in fibre like brown rice, whole wheat, barley,  chole, legumes, nuts. And cut down on the biscuits, white bread, burger, pizza or maida. And importantly: avoid overcooking sabzis and killing fruits and vegetables in the juicer.

Sources of minerals

Calcium

Found in dairy products, tofu, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and in fact almost all wholesome food. It is the most abundant mineral in the body. We need it because it maintains the health of bones, joints and teeth, is responsible for all muscular contraction, for clotting of blood and to regulate blood pressure.

Take it as a supplement daily. Bone is a dynamic living tissue in the body, being broken down and rebuilt daily, even in adults. Thus, calcium is essential in maintaining good bone health on a daily basis. A diet that is high in processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and sodium reduces calcium absorption. So does regular intake of antacids and laxatives. Thus, here is one mineral we all must supplement in our diet.

If you are using a calcium supplement, check what compound it uses. Calcium citrate or lactate (soluble in a form) compound is absorbed much better by the human body than the popular calcium carbonate or phosphate supplements. Use a supplement of 1000 milligrams a day for optimum health.

Iron

Found in meat, fish and eggs (all non-veg sources). Veg sources are garden cress seeds (traditionally used to make laddoos for pregnant and nursing women),  other whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits. For iron to be absorbed effectively, we need adequate amounts of vitamin C and B (specifically B12) in our body.

We need it because it is a part of haemoglobin which transports oxygen from the lungs to different tissues of the body and carbon dioxide from different tissues to the lungs. Don’t take iron supplements. Just like in case of calcium, processed foods, caffeine, antidepressants, sodium, sugar (including desserts, mithai and chocolates that we eat because of PMS) reduce the absorption of iron in the body. The best strategy to improve iron intake is not to take iron supplements, but instead to create an environment in the body which will encourage iron absorption. Reduce your intake of sweets and caffeine, and increase vitamins C and B, in addition to drinking adequate amounts of water.

Deficiency of iron is common, especially in women. During menstrual periods women lose blood (good blood and not impurities, unlike what we believed earlier), and with it, we lose important minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, etc. Selenium, zinc, chromium, magnesium, copper Found in fish, egg, whole grains, fresh veggies. These minerals are gaining importance, not just because they are essential to preventing diseases but also because they are antioxidants, and promote fat burning in our body.

Insulin insensitivity is a common reason for gaining fat and is rampant in urban India and in the west, and these minerals have proved to be efficient in improving insulin sensitivity. Zinc and chromium are of paramount importance for good skin and hair growth, and to prevent acne and wrinkles. Zinc also plays a role in normal testosterone function and aiding muscle growth. For protection against free radicals, selenium is vital. Additionally, copper is required for optimum iron absorption; while manganese is responsible for thyroid function and blood sugar control.

Magnesium helps lower blood pressure, eases PMS symptoms and lowers LDL levels. These are just the main Vitamins and minerals; there are many like boron, molybdenum, iodine, potassium and inositol choline that I don’t really mention in this article. But does that mean that they are less important than the ones I have mentioned? Not at all. Nor are the many vitamins and minerals that are still undiscovered.

Close Menu