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Elevating your Diet: How to Target Key Vitamins and Minerals through Food

So you want to improve your nutritional profile, but you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with ads for supplements and their amazing health benefits. Yet, numerous essential vitamins and minerals are available in a balanced diet, you just need to know where to find them. Continue reading for an easy-to-navigate guide on key vitamins and minerals that are hiding in your pantry!
Safia Ismael

Understanding the intricate relationship between nutrition and well-being is essential for fostering a healthier lifestyle. In today’s digital age, social media platforms are flooded with advertisements promoting a plethora of supplements promising miraculous health benefits. However, many essential vitamins and minerals can be readily obtained from a balanced diet, provided one knows where to look.


So bookmark this blog, because we made it our mission to shortlist key vitamins and minerals, their health benefits supported by research and where they can be sourced from to help you elevate your diet.

Omega 3

What is it?

Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (AKA a glorified healthy fat) and has important physiological roles in supporting cardiovascular health and brain health. Additionally, omega 3 is also known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its deficiency has been linked to inflammation, depression and joint pain. 


Research shows that omega 3 has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

High amounts of omega 3 are best sourced from cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. Whereas fish with a lower fat content — such as bass, tilapia, and cod—as well as shellfish contain lower levels. Omega 3 can also be found in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. It can also be found in nuts such as chia seeds and walnuts.

Magnesium (Mg)

What is it?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that acts as a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems. It regulates diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function to name a few. Early signs of Magnesium deficiency include weakness, fatigue and nausea, with symptoms worsening over time. 


Research shows that Magnesium has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Magnesium is widely distributed in plants such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains as well as animal foods and bottled water. 

Did you know that approximately 30% to 40% of the dietary magnesium consumed is typically absorbed by the body? Given this, it’s important to ensure you’re incorporating these sources into your meals.

Zinc (Zn)

What is it?

Zinc is an essential mineral that is involved in many aspects of cellular metabolism and is required for the activity of hundreds of enzymes. This mineral has various roles including enhancing immune function, and wound healing and supports healthy growth from pregnancy to adolescence. Interestingly, zinc is involved in the development and perception of taste!


Zinc deficiency affects many different tissues and organs e.g. skin; bones; and the digestive, reproductive, central nervous, and immune system. In older adults, zinc can cause delays in wound healing and changes in cognitive and psychological function.


Research shows that zinc has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

The richest food sources of zinc include meat, fish, and seafood. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but the common consumption of beef contributes to 20% of zinc intake from food in the US.

Selenium (Se)

What is it?

Selenium, which is often unspoken about, is a mineral that is needed in very small amounts of the body for normal physiological function. This antioxidant plays critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, and protection from infection. Selenium deficiency is associated with male infertility and might play a role in cardiomyopathy and Kashin-Beck disease - a type of osteoarthritis


Research shows that selenium has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Selenium is naturally present in many foods such as Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats. Other sources include muscle meats, cereals and other grains, and dairy products.  

Calcium (Ca)

What is it?

Calcium is the abundant mineral in the body that makes up much of the structure of bones and teeth and allows normal bodily movement by keeping tissue rigid, strong, and flexible, with 98% of calcium stored in the bones. Additionally, there is a small pool of positively charged calcium in the circulatory system and in tissues to support processes such as blood clotting,  nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion.

Calcium deficiency can reduce bone strength and lead to osteoporosis. Other symptoms include increased tingling in the hands and feet, and muscle spasms. 


Research shows that calcium has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Calcium is found in some foods such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese. Additional sources include sardines, salmon and vegetables including kale and broccoli.

Potassium (K)

What is it?

Potassium - the most abundant positively charged particle inside the cell - is an essential nutrient and is present in all body tissues. It is required for normal cell function because of its role in maintaining intracellular fluid volume and transmembrane electrochemical gradients. In addition, potassium is also required for proper nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and kidney function.

Potassium deficiency can increase blood pressure, kidney stone risk, fatigue and muscle weakness.


Research shows that potassium has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

K is naturally present in many foods, primarily fruits and vegetables such as soybeans and potatoes. Meats, poultry, fish, milk, yoghurt, and nuts also contain potassium. Among starchy foods, whole-wheat flour and brown rice are much higher in potassium than their refined counterparts, white wheat flour and white rice.

Vitamin A (Vit A)

What is it?

Vitamin A is the generic name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids. It’s involved in immune function, cellular communication, growth and development, and male and female reproduction. It also supports cell growth and plays a critical role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, eyes, and other organs.


Chronic vitamin A deficiency has also been associated with abnormal lung development, respiratory diseases (such as pneumonia), and an increased risk of anaemia.


Research shows that vitamin A has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Vitamin A has been found to be the highest in liver, fish, eggs, and dairy products. It’s also routinely added to some foods, including milk and margarine.

Vitamin B (Vit B)

What is it?

There are at least 8 forms of vitamin B available, each with their unique properties. The 2 subtypes this article will explore are vitamin B1 and B6.

Vitamin B1 (also called Thiamine) plays a critical role in energy metabolism and therefore, in the growth, development, and function of cells. Its deficiency can cause weight loss and anorexia, confusion, short-term memory loss, and other mental signs and symptoms; muscle weakness; and cardiovascular symptoms (e.g. an enlarged heart)


Vitamin B6 (also called Pyridoxine) is a coenzyme that performs a wide variety of functions in the body and is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism. Its deficiency is uncommon but is associated with depression, microcytic anaemia, confusion, and weakened immune function.


Research shows that vitamin B has been linked to:

Where can I find it?
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): found in whole grains, meat, and fish

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): found in fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (other than citrus). 

Vitamin C (Vit C) 

What is it?

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin and is an essential antioxidant required for protein metabolism and the creation of collagen and certain neurotransmitters.


Initial symptoms linked to deficiency can include fatigue and inflammation of the gums. Acute vitamin C deficiency leads to a disease called scurvy, which is characterised by depression, swollen/bleeding gums and loosening or loss of teeth. As vitamin C deficiency progresses, collagen synthesis becomes impacted and connective tissues become weakened, causing joint pains, poor wound healing and corkscrew hairs.


Research shows that vitamin C has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Best sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables e.g. citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato juice, and potatoes. Other good food sources include red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe.

Vitamin D (Vit D) 

What is it?

Vitamin D is fat-soluble vitamin obtained through sunlight exposure and is essential for maintaining the right balance of calcium in the body. It also supports cell growth, bone growth and remodelling. Vitamin D plays a vital role in neuromuscular, immune function and is important for the right balance of glucose in the body. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia which is a weakening of the bones.


Research shows that vitamin D has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Only a few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Additional foods containing vitamin D include trout, mushrooms and fortified foods such as cereals.

Vitamin E (Vit E) 

What is it?

Vitamin E is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds. Whilst it exists in eight chemical forms, α-tocopherol is the only form that is recognised to meet human needs. Vitamin E has distinctive antioxidant activities and helps prevent the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer.


As the digestive tract requires fat to absorb vitamin E, people with fat-malabsorption disorders are more likely to become deficient than people without such disorders. Deficiency symptoms include nerve damage, unsteady movements, muscle weakness, vision problems and a weakened immune system.


Research shows that vitamin E has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Numerous foods provide vitamin E such as nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals.

Vitamin K (Vit K)

What is it?

Vitamin K is the generic name for a family of fat-soluble compounds with a common chemical structure. Vitamin K functions as a coenzyme for vitamin K-dependent carboxylase, an enzyme required for the synthesis of proteins involved in blood clotting, bone metabolism and other diverse physiological functions.


Vitamin K deficiency is associated with weakened bones due to decreased mineral content, osteoporosis and excessive bleeding in severe cases. 


Research shows that vitamin K has been linked to:

Where can I find it?

Vitamin K is naturally present in some foods such as vegetable oils, some fruits and green leafy vegetables including kale, collard greens, broccoli and spinach. 


Understanding the health benefits of micronutrients and where they can be sourced from enables you to make healthier additions to your plate. So whilst supplements are wonderful for improving your nutritional profile, remember that what you eat is just as important. 


Learn more about how your diet can improve your longevity on our blog. 


Safia Ismael

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