Truth About Vitamins & Minerals

Micronutrients, also known as vitamins and minerals, get all the praise in our culture. Antioxidant this, super food that. Blah, blah, blah. If you look at the origin of the word (Micronutrient) you will notice - Micro, meaning small, aka we don't need a ton of them. Now before you freak out, I am not saying that vitamins and minerals are not super important for your body. They truly are essential for so many bodily processes, but I caution you on the emphasis that our culture places on them.

The typical healthy American eating a variety of foods from a variety of sources should be able to get the vitamins and minerals the body needs (this excludes individuals with certain diseases, radical lifestyle choices or individuals with low food availability). My good friend and fellow dietitian, Molly, stated this weekend "Americans have the most expensive pee!" Molly's point is that once your body has absorbed the needed amount of vitamins and minerals your kidneys excrete the extra.

Big food (diet industry, weight loss industry, supplement industry, etc.) companies love to use 'Health' as a marketing ploy, (which perhaps is better than other messages or is it just more sneaky ?? ), but at the end of the day they are attempting to make money off of you. That is their bottom line, so make sure you are educated. Also something good to know is that the supplement industry does not have a regulatory body like the FDA.

Moral of the Story...Eat a variety of foods! Animal and plant based. Fresh, frozen, packaged. Branch out and try new foods!

Here is a accurate and reliable list of vitamins and minerals, their sources, and what they do for the body...

Minerals (look at all those animal sources, just saying...)

  • Calcium - promotes bone structure and maintenance, enables blood clotting and muscle contraction
    • Milk, broccoli, greens
  • Chloride - formation of stomach acid, fluid and acid/base balance
    • Salt, meats, milk, cheese, eggs
  • Copper - formation of oxygenating cells, formation of connective tissue, energy release
    • Meats, cereals, nuts, legumes, liver, shellfish
  • Fluoride - strengthen bones and teeth
    • Fluoridated water
  • Iodine - helps regulate metabolism
    • Iodized salt, fish
  • Iron - formation of oxygenating cells, releases energy
    • Meats, organ meats, dried fruits, grains, enriched cereals
  • Magnesium - promotes energy reactions, bone maintenance, conducts nerve impulses
    • Milk, green vegetables, nuts, breads and cereals
  • Manganese - development of bone, protein breakdown
    • Cereals, legumes
  • Phosphorus - promotes bone and tooth formation, bone maintenance, components of DNA, RNA, and energy cells, essential for metabolic reactions
    • Meats, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, legumes, nuts
  • Potassium - pressure and acid/base balance, transmits nerve impulses
    • Oranges, dried fruits, bananas, potatoes, meats, coffee, peanut butter
  • Sodium - maintains pressure and acid/base balance, relaxation of muscles
    • Salt, cured meats, milk, olives, chips, crackers
  • Sulfur - component of B vitamins, structure component of hair, skin and nails.
    • Meats, milk, cheese, eggs, legumes, nuts
  • Zinc - protein metabolism, transfer of carbon dioxide
    • Grains, cereals, meats, eggs, legumes

Fat Soluble Vitamins (fat must be present to absorb)

  • Vitamin A - night vision, growth, eye and skin healthy, resistance to bacterial infections
    • Liver, egg yolk, milk, sweet potatoes, carrots, greens
  • Vitamin D - aids in absorbing calcium and phosphorus
    • Fortified milk, eggs, cheeses
  • Vitamin E - spares Vitamin A & C from breaking down
    • Vegetable oils, greens
  • Vitamin K - formation of blood and clotting cells
    • Greens, liver, egg yolks

Water Soluble Vitamins (water must be present to absorb)

  • Thiamin (B1) - release of energy, formation and synthesis of DNA & RNA
    • Meats, grains, cereals
  • Riboflavin - release of energy, conversion of cells
    • Milk, green vegetables, fish, meat
  • Niacin - release of energy, fatty acid synthesis
    • Meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter, cereals
  • Pantothenic Acid - metabolism of dietary fats, formation of oxygen carrying cells and steroids
    • Grains, cereals, organ meats
  • Folacin - Amino acid synthesis needed for formation of protein
    • Greens, mushrooms, vegetables, fruits
  • B6 - metabolism of proteins
    • Meats, grains, cereals, lima beans, potatoes
  • B12 - maturing of red blood cells, energy for central nervous system, activates B vitamins
    • Animal foods
  • Biotin - release of energy, break down of protein
    • Egg yolks, milk, cereals, nuts
  • Vitamin C - formation of connective tissue, absorption of calcium, strengthens capillaries
    • Citrus fruits, tropical fruits, tomatoes, cabbage


I hope you have found this information helpful #dallasnutritionalcounseling