The 6 Essential Vitamins and Minerals - and why we need them!

December 21
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It’s easy to forget if we’re getting enough of the minerals and vitamins we need in our diet. I asked Samia from to share the details we need… Find out how the vitamins are helpful and how you can incorporate them in your diet.

What is it and How does it help? Vitamin D – or the “sunshine vitamin” is naturally synthesized in the skin when exposed to enough sunlight and is important for keeping our bones strong and healthy because it helps the body absorb calcium. Its deficiency causes symptoms of tiredness, bone pain or muscle weakness and may also prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. However, Vitamin D deficiency disproportionately afflicts Muslim communities because of their modest dress, and also in the Middle East where people spend more time in cars away from direct sunlight.
Where can I find it? The best sources of Vitamin D (apart from your regular dose of sunshine!) include oily fish and cod liver oil. It is also found in milk, butter and egg yolks, but nothing beats sunshine and oily fish when it comes to Vitamin D!

What is it and How does it help? A mineral which is essential to developing and maintaining good bones and also helps your muscles to move (including your heartbeat) and helps communication between the brain and the body parts. Calcium deficiency may cause rickets in children and in adults: brittle bone disease and osteoporosis.
Where can I find it? Found in dairy products like milk, cheese also in nuts, soya based products and surprisingly in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli! If taking supplements, look for one which combines Vitamin D with calcium as your body needs Vitamin D to help absorb and retain this mineral.

What is it and How does it help? Is actually a group of vitamins (retinoids and carotenoids). The ‘night-vision’ vitamin helps strengthen your body’s immunity against infections, helps skin, teeth, the linings in your nose and helps you to see in dim light.
Where can I find it? Sweet potatoes (which also come under the ‘superfood’ category) are a good source for all types of Vitamin A. Then of course, carrots,  dark green leafy foods such as spinach and kale, animal liver, whole milk, fortified foods amongst others. Pregnant ladies need to avoid having too much Vitamin A though because large quantities wouldn’t be good for the baby.

What is it and How does it help? This is also a group of eight vitamins. These are essential for breaking down carbs for energy when you need it and also are important for making red blood cells which carry oxygen all around your body. Pregnant mothers should specially take vitamin supplements including the B Vitamin folic acid as it prevents some types of birth defects.
Where can I find it? Try to go wholegrain for getting a lot of Vitamin B and other health benefits! Stick to whole unprocessed foods including sources such as potatoes, beans, lentils, eggs, peas, meat, fish, chicken, milk, cheese, fortified cereals, bread and of course leafy green vegetables. Processed foods made from white flour have lower levels of Vitamin B compared to their wholegrain counterparts!

What is it and How does it help? If you ever heard someone saying that Vitamin C was good for warding off the flu, they were right! Vitamin C helps prevent infections is also an antioxidant (preventing damage done by free radicals). It also helps healing wounds. Lack of vitamin C can cause anemia and in cases of severe deficiencies, it can cause scurvy.
Where can I find it? Good sources are fruits such as cantaloupes, strawberries, kiwi, mangoes, citrus fruits like oranges, and yet again vegetables like broccoli and others such as tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, sweet potatoes, green and red peppers. Foods lose their Vitamin C reserves if stored for a long time or during cooking, so raw fruits and vegetables are best.

What is it and How does it help? Feeling tired? Have your iron levels checked! Iron is an essential mineral and helps make red blood cells in the body. Its deficiency can cause anemia which can cause symptoms like fatigue. Pregnant women and women who have heavy menstrual bleeding may need iron supplements. Iron is especially important for development in children but must be taken with care as over-dosage can be harmful!
Where can I find it? Iron rich foods are meat, liver, beans and lentils, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, wholegrain foods.