Supplements are no substitute for eating nutritious foods and a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that make the body functionally strong and able to ward off disease. Here’s a quick rundown of key nutrients that are readily available in delicious, everyday foods:
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining a strong immune system, and it is especially helpful in the prevention of conditions such as lupus, arthritis, cancer, and coronary heart disease. Believe it or not, the best source of vitamin D is direct sunlight – good reason to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. A variety of foods are high in vitamin D, too, including fish like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel, fortified milk, orange juice and cereal, and egg yolks
Being deficient in the mineral iron can cause anemia, leaving you fatigued and vulnerable to disease and infections. There are two types of iron: Heme iron from animal sources and non-heme iron from plant sources; you need both types. Organ meats like liver and giblets are among the best sources of heme iron, and so are animal proteins like egg yolks and red meat. Spinach and all kinds of beans are a great source of non-heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by the body when eaten with vitamin C-rich vegetables like bell pepper, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Our body contains more calcium than any other mineral, and it is essential for forming and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Symptoms of calcium deficiency include high blood pressure, insomnia, and hypertension, so to get enough calcium turn to foods such as milk and dairy products, nuts, seeds, salmon, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant found in foods such as kale, spinach, and oranges. It is necessary for healthy tissue growth, repair, and development, as well as skin, ligament, and blood vessel formation. Vitamin C also plays an important role in healing wounds, repairing cartilage, and supporting healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for brain and nervous system health and for healthy blood, and its benefits also include boosting metabolism and reducing the risk of stroke, depression and anemia. Great food sources for vitamin B include beef, chicken, eggs and fish.
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Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber and The F-Factor Diet. Subscribe to Tanya’s free weekly newsletter and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn