11 Essential Vitamins & Minerals — And How to Get Enough of Them

Updated on September 18th, 2020
Vitamins and Minerals

We all know minerals and vitamins are critical nutrients the body requires – but what does every vitamin do? And which foods are vitamin powerhouses? Here’s the low-down on which letter represents what, from A Vitamin A (that is A) to zinc (or – Z ).

For those among us who aren’t dieticians, nutritionists, or experts in natural health, the numbers and letters which explain the world of healthy food can seem pretty challenging. One thing’s for sure – researchers suggest fueling your body with healthy foods before turning to supplements.

The best bet is to ensure you take a balanced diet with as many whole foods as possible –if you require a boost, here’s the guidance on what letter does what, from A (i.e., is vitamin A) to Z (or – zinc).

What Are The Essential Vitamins and Minerals?

Minerals and Vitamins are present in an endless amount of sources — drink, food, plants. Even the rays of the sun! You’ve probably heard of vitamins B, A, C, D, and their benefits. It’s also likely you’re familiar with iron, calcium, and potassium.

Well, they are just a few essential minerals and vitamins that are part of a much bigger list. Unfamiliar with other essential minerals and vitamins? Not to worry! We’ve put together a guide that includes several highly beneficial minerals and vitamins you need every day.

You’ll be quick to realize the number of uncommon minerals and vitamins that are part of your regular diet!

Every one of these essential minerals and vitamins is critical for a healthier lifestyle. From Vitamin A to Z (Zinc), there’s no shortage of advantages, as these crucial ingredients provide much-required nutrients for your body.

Kick back, relax, and enjoy this essential mineral and vitamin guide; it’s as simple as Vitamin A, B, C!

1. Vitamin A

Are you struggling to see at night? You may be lacking in Vitamin A. Known for its ability to preserve eyesight, Vitamin A plays quite a crucial role in maintaining vision, particularly when the sunsets.

The reason for this is Vitamin A supports our eyes and produces pigments to sustain a healthy retina. Without these pigments, our ability to see at night is compromised [1].

Good For: Healthy eyes and growth and general development, including healthy skin and teeth.

Natural Source: Orange foods, Carrots, cantaloupe melons, and sweet potato – all of which get their color from the carotene pigment.

[Read: Health Benefits of Vitamin A]

2. B Vitamins

Unlike other essential vitamins, Vitamin B is somewhat more involved when considering the many forms and types it comes in. 

Good For: Immune function, iron absorption, and energy production.

Natural Source: This critical group of nutrients can be present in whole, unprocessed foods, particularly potatoes, whole grains, lentils, bananas, chili peppers, beans, yeast, and molasses.

3. Vitamin C

Known as the champion of the immune system, Vitamin C is more versatile than we have learned. Vitamin C dons many hats when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle beyond its essential role in strengthening the immune health [2].

For instance, this unique vitamin is needed to produce collagen, a needed tissue component in your body. In short, Vitamin C consumption helps your wounds heal faster and stay moist than people who are deficient in this vitamin.

Good For: Giving skin its elasticity, strengthening blood vessels and iron absorption and anti-oxidant function.

Natural Source: Everyone knows this fruit – oranges! But they’re not just the only source – other veggies and fruits packed with Vitamin C include red and green peppers, guava, grapefruits, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

[Read: Best Vitamin C Supplements]

4. Vitamin D

Good For: Healthy, strong bones.

Natural Source: Apart from soaking up in the sun, which stimulates Vitamin D production, you can get this nutritional must from fish, eggs, and mushrooms.

[Read: Benefits of Vitamin D]

5. Vitamin E

Good For: Protection from blood circulation and free radicals.

Natural Source: Our favorite Vitamin E-dense food is the mighty almond. You can also fill up on sunflower seeds, other nuts, and tomatoes to reap their benefits.

6. Vitamin K

Good For: Blood coagulation – that’s, the process by which our blood clots.

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Natural Source: Leafy greens are the adequate natural sources of Vitamin K – so make sure you’re eating lots of spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

[Read: Top Vitamin K Rich Foods]

7. Folic Acid

Good For: Cell renewal and preventing congenital disabilities in pregnancy.

Natural Source: There are plenty of palatable natural sources of folic acid, including dark leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, citrus fruits, peas, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, beets, cauliflower, and corn.

[Read: Benefits of Folic Acid for Women]

8. Calcium

Good For: Healthy bones and teeth.

Natural Source: This is another mineral that most of us already knew – the right sources are dairy products like yogurt, milk, cheese, and black molasses, and tofu.

9. Iron

Good For: Building muscles and maintaining healthy blood naturally.

Natural Source: You’ll be surprised to know that clams are one of the richest iron content sources, followed by organ meats like liver and oysters. For the vegetarians among us, cereal, soybeans, beans, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and spinach are great iron sources.

[Read: Best Iron Rich Foods for Kids]

10. Zinc

Good For: Growth, immunity, and fertility.

Natural Source: Seafood like oysters are also rich in zinc, cashews, spinach, beans, and – a surprise – dark chocolate!

11. Chromium

Good For: Glucose function – ensuring every cell in your body gets energy as and when required.

Natural Source: As long as your diet includes servings of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and herbs, you should be getting enough chromium.

Bottom Line 

It’s essential to choose the right foods that are right for your needs. It should cover the bases from A to Zinc, but sometimes there is a reason why a letter or two may be missing. You may require to turn to other sources for those missing and low-level nutrients. And as always, let your body — and if necessary, your physician — be your guide.

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