We’ve been taught growing up that to be healthy we need to eat our fruits and vegetables. They are nutritious because they contain vitamins and minerals which are essential for the body to repair it’s cells from damage, build and maintain bones, and keep the body strong and functioning properly. It’s also important we get enough amounts of these vitamins and minerals, some we need more of than others.
What is the difference between vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins are organic nutrients, this means that they’re created from the tissue of living things like plants and animals. There are 13 vitamins that our body needs, 4 are fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K) and 9 are water soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). If you are eating crap very often then you may not get enough variety of these vitamins, causing deficiency and illness.
Minerals are nutrients that are inorganic and come from the soil and water, which are then absorbed by plants which are consumed by animals and then into humans (for meat eaters.) There are certain minerals where we need more of and these are called “macro minerals” and they include Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Magnesium, and Salt. The ones we need less of are called “micro minerals” and they include Iron, Zinc, Copper, Chromium, Fluoride, Iodine, Selenium, and Manganese.
Why they’re so important?
I’m sure you’ve heard of the story of sailors getting scurvy after being on long boat trips, and they later realized that people who had eaten certain foods like citrus fruits did not get scurvy. In the western world vitamin C is available in a lot of common foods like fruits, vegetables, fortified cereals and milks, therefore it is uncommon for people to get scurvy. But there are like 13 vitamins you can be deficient at, and deficiency in each one can result in a different problem, and that’s not even counting the macro and micro minerals you need.
But don’t worry, getting enough of each one isn’t as hard to do as it sounds. If you’re still worried, you may find the cronometer tool helpful. Cronometer lets you put in the different foods you eat in a day, then calculate how much of each vitamin and mineral you obtained from these foods, and this is how you find out if you’re getting enough.
Who is at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency?
There are few category of people who are at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency, let’s talk about these categories and the reason they are at risk.
People who are elderly are at risk, this is because their bodies cannot absorb the vitamins and minerals as efficiently as they used to, so they need to eat more of it than they’ve used to in order to obtain the same amount. This is why if you’re over 60 you should watch your diet even more and stay away from too much fast food and other junk food.
Other categories of people who are at risk include people who can’t get enough to eat and therefore cannot get enough of these vitamins and minerals. In the USA we’re talking about homeless people, people who are anorexic or restrict their calories to lose weight, and people who eat a poor diet of junk food.
It’s Easier Than You Think!
A lot of people think since there’s so many different varieties of vitamins and minerals that it must be so hard to get enough of each. But the truth is it’s much easier than you think. As I’ve mentioned before try using cronometer. I have a little secret for you… eat lots of potatoes, they are one of the most all-around nutritious food in this world. A potato contains nearly all the vitamins and minerals! Seriously, go to cronometer and see for yourself. You can also use cronometer to plan what foods you can eat to obtain a balanced diet. Here are a few of my suggestions of what foods you can eat for each different vitamin and mineral:
Vegan food sources for:
Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, papayas, bell peppers, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, asparagus, potatoes
Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, squashes, apricots, pineapples, cantaloupe.
Sunlight, mushrooms, fortified foods, supplements.
Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sweet potatoes, potatoes, spinach, swiss chard, kale.
Grapes, figs, blackberries, blueberries, prunes, broccoli, spinach, kale, scallions (green onions).
Beans, legumes, fortified foods for B12, bananas, whole grain foods, avocados, mushrooms, broccoli.
Tofu, soybeans, bok choy, kale, fortified rice/almond milk, hempseeds.
Beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chocolate.
Sweet potato, bananas, avocado, tomatoes, mushroom, squash, dark leafy green vegetables.
Whole grains, bananas, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, squash, leafy greens.
Celery, tomatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, seaweed.