Essential vitamins and minerals that may be difficult to get through diet alone
Published March 10, 2014
Many of us understandably prefer to get the nutrients we need from natural food sources, rather than vitamin and mineral supplements. However, certain nutrients may be difficult for us to get from diet alone. This is especially the case for those adhering to special diets such as vegetarian or vegan diets, watching their calorie intake or for those with allergies. Vitamins and minerals you may not be getting enough of include:
Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine” vitamin, as it’s produced by our skin in response to sunlight. People who stay out of the sun, have a milk allergy or are vegetarian are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. This is because there are only a few foods that contain vitamin D, including eggs, fortified dairy, grain products, as well as some fish and fish liver oils.1
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that helps to maintain mental ability, red blood cell formation and is also involved in the production of energy. Vitamin B12 is found in most foods of animal origin, such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and liver.2 Due to this, anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet might develop a deficiency. Vegetarians should choose vitamin B12 enriched foods or consider taking a supplement. They should also have their vitamin B12 status regularly assessed by a healthcare professional in order to identify any problems early.3
Calcium is extremely important for bone health, as well as muscle function, heart and nerve health, and blood clotting. When we don’t consume enough calcium through our diet, the body will remove calcium stored in the bones to maintain adequate levels in the blood. If this occurs over a long period of time, bones can become weak, brittle and more likely to break.4 The main source of calcium in our diet is dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. People with allergies to milk or vegans may therefore find it difficult to consume enough daily calcium. Other good sources of calcium include fish with soft bones such as sardines, vegetables such as kale and broccoli, most grains and fortified breakfast cereals, juices and tofu.5 Because these nutrients may be difficult to get through your food alone, you may consider a supplement to top up the levels of these important vitamins and minerals.
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