5 Food Sources for 5 Key Vitamins & Minerals

Monday Jul 29 | BY |
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5 Vitamins & Minerals

Rather than pop a pill, how about bumping up your consumption
of certain foods when you need nutrients?

Did your doctor recently tell you that you’re low on vitamin B? Are you feeling a cold coming on and want to stock up on zinc?

You can always turn to supplements, but science is telling us that food is always the healthiest option when it comes to getting nutrients into our systems.

Trying to remember what foods are highest in certain nutrients can be difficult, however, so we’ve created a quick reference here for five key nutrients. Next time you find yourself needing a bit more vitamin C, for instance, you’ll know which food to go shopping for!

1. Vitamin C
Smokers have a high risk of vitamin C deficiency. You may also need more if you’re suffering from gingivitis, rough and dry skin, nosebleeds, high blood pressure, or if you’re succumbing to bacterial and viral infections. Getting enough vitamin C may also help protect you from heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other diseases. Top food sources include (with the amount of vitamin C per serving):

  1. Guava (188 mg)
  2. Red bell pepper (148 mg)
  3. Red chili pepper (144 mg)
  4. Broccoli (132 mg)
  5. Kiwi or Orange (70 mg)

2. Folate (Folic Acid)
Folate is critical for women of childbearing age, as it helps to prevent neural tube birth defects. A deficiency can cause anemia, fatigue, mouth sores, gray hair, and a swollen tongue. The American Cancer Society notes that some studies have linked low levels of folic acid in the blood with higher rates of colorectal cancer and some other types of cancer. Top food sources include:

  1. Turkey liver (691 ug)
  2. Dried rosemary (307 ug)
  3. Sunflower seeds (238 ug)
  4. Edamame (205 ug)
  5. Dark, leafy greens (raw spinach and turnip greens, 194 ug)

3. Potassium
According to Colorado State University, most Americans do not meet the daily recommendation for potassium. A diet low in this nutrient and high in sodium may be one of the factors contributing to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Experts recommend 4,700 mg a day. Top food sources include:

  1. White beans (1,004 mg in one cup cooked)
  2. Dark, leafy greens (839 mg in one cup cooked)
  3. Baked potato (926 mg for one average potato with skin)
  4. Dried apricots (755 mg for ½ cup)
  5. Baked acorn squash (899 mg for 1 cup, cubed)

4. Magnesium
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that most people in the U.S. don’t get as much magnesium as they should from their diets. Intestinal viruses and gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and pancreatitis can all disrupt the body’s magnesium balance. Drinking carbonated beverages on a regular basis can also render magnesium unavailable to the body, while pastries, cakes, and other sweet foods can cause the body to excrete more magnesium through the kidneys.

Symptoms of deficiency include agitation and anxiety, restless leg syndrome, irritability, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure, and insomnia. Top food sources include:

  1. Dark leafy greens (157 mg in 1 cup cooked spinach)
  2. Pumpkin seeds (150 mg in one ounce)
  3. Halibut (91 mg in one 3-oz fillet)
  4. Soy beans (148 mg in one cup cooked)
  5. Brown rice (86 mg in one cup cooked)

5. Zinc
Zinc plays a critical role in growth and development, and is important for wound healing and a healthy immune system. You may be deficient if you’re not tasting or smelling your food as well as you once did. Children who are deficient can experience growth delays. Other signs that you’re not getting enough include increased infections, poor skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, diarrhea, hair loss, visual problems, low sexual drive, and sleep problems. Studies have also found that upping your intake of zinc at the first sign of a cold can help you get over it faster. Top food sources include:

  1. Oysters (16-182 mg per 100g serving)
  2. Toasted wheat germ (17 mg)
  3. Veal liver (12 mg)
  4. Roast beef (10 mg)
  5. Roasted pumpkin and squash seeds (10 mg)

If you don’t regularly eat meat, you can also try dried watermelon seeds (10 mg), dark chocolate (9.6 mg), and roasted peanuts (6.6 mg).

Do you try to eat more of certain foods to battle symptoms? Please share your thoughts.

* * *

“You Say Tomato…Scoring Veggies,” Nutrition Action, October 2012.

“Folic Acid,” American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/folic-acid.

“Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B9,” Healthaliciousness, http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-folate-vitamin-B9.php.

L. Bellows and R. Moore, “Potassium and the Diet,” Colorado State University, March 2013, http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09355.html.

“Top 10 Foods Highest in Potassium,” Healthaliciousness, http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/food-sources-of-potassium.php.

“Magnesium,” University of Maryland Medical Center, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium.

“Need More Magnesium? 10 Signs to Watch For,” Ancient Minerals, http://www.ancient-minerals.com/magnesium-deficiency/need-more/.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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