The Most Important Nutrients: 20 Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients that our body needs in some small amounts in order to work properly. They play hundreds of roles in the body. Vitamins and minerals help heal wounds, shore up bones, and bolster the immune system. They also convert nutrients into energy and repair cellular damage.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals from A-Z

In this article, Your Health Tubers offer you a guide that breaks down the greatest foods for 20 essential nutrients.

  1. Vitamin A

Why you need Vitamin A: The family of vitamin A performs a great role in our immune system, reproductive behaviors, and mostly vision. This vitamin that includes beta-carotene, help the membranes of the eye, cornea, and retina to function properly.

Where to get Vitamin A naturally: Sweet potatoes are the greatest source of vitamin A. Just 1 medium-sized baked sweet potato has about 28 000 IU of vitamin A, or 561% of the recommended daily value (DV). Spinach, milk, carrots, beef liver, fish, and eggs also are great sources.

  1. Vitamin B6

Why you need Vitamin B6: It’s an umbrella term for 6 different compounds that have some similar effects on human’s body. These compounds help form hemoglobin (part of the red blood cells), metabolize foods, make antibodies which fight disease, and stabilize blood sugar.

Where to get Vitamin B6 naturally: Beef liver, poultry, and fish are all perfect sources of this vitamin, but the greatest in vitamin B6 – great news for all vegetarians – is the garbanzo bean or chickpea. A cup of canned chickpeas contains about 56% of your DV or 1.1 mg of this vitamin.

  1. Vitamin B12

Why you need Vitamin B12: It’s crucial for the formation of red blood cells and DNA and healthy nervous system function. It helps fight against anemia, a condition that causes weakness and fatigue.
Where to get Vitamin B12 naturally: The best source of vitamin B12 are animal products. The highest concentration of this vitamin have the cooked clams, with 83 mcg – a whopping 1, 401% of the DV – in only 3 ounces (1 mg=1000 mcg). Vitamin B12 also appears naturally in trout, tuna, beef liver, and salmon, and is usually added to breakfast cereals.

  1. Vitamin C

Why you need Vitamin C: It’s a significant antioxidant, and it is also a necessary ingredient in certain important bodily processes, such as the synthesis of neurotransmitters and protein metabolism.

Where to get Vitamin C naturally: Generally, when we think of vitamin C we think of citrus fruits; however, sweet red peppers contain more Vitamin C than any other food in the world (96 mg per serving – while oranges contain about 93 mg per serving). Some other great sources include broccoli, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, and Brussels sprouts.

  1. Calcium

Why you need Calcium: It’s the most abundant mineral in our body. Up to 98% is stored in- and aids fortify – bones and teeth, while the remainder goes through muscle function and blood vessel, hormone secretion, and cell communication.

Where to get Calcium naturally: Dairy products are the richest source of naturally occurring calcium; next on the list is the plain yogurt with 42% DV (415 mg) per serving. Chinese cabbage and kale are another natural sources of this mineral, which can also be found in cereals and fortified fruit juices.

  1. Vitamin D

Why you need Vitamin D: Our body generates this vitamin on its own when we are exposed to sunlight. It helps spur absorption of calcium and bone growth. Vitamin D is also essential for immunity, reduction of inflammation, and the cell growth.

Where to get Vitamin D naturally: Fatty fishes – including salmon, mackerel, and swordfish – are among the few naturally occurring sources of this vitamin. The first place belongs to cod liver oil with 1 361 IU per tablespoon, while swordfish is right next to it with 142% DV, or 567 IU. Orange juice, breakfast cereals, yogurt, and milk are good sources of vitamin D.

  1. Vitamin E

Why you need Vitamin E: It’s a potent antioxidant who protects cells from free radicals, which are harmful molecules. Vitamin E is significant for healthy blood vessel function, clotting, and immunity, and immunity.

Where to get Vitamin E naturally: The greatest natural source of vitamin E is wheat germ oil (100% DV, or 20.3 mg per serving). Other good sources of this vitamin are almonds (34% DV, 6.8 mg per serving) and sunflower seeds (37% DV, 7.4 mg per ounce).

  1. Folate

Why you need Folate: It can prevent birth defects, therefore, folate (a type of B vitamin) is certainly significant for pregnant women. For everyone else, folate helps proteins and new tissues form.

Where to get Folate naturally: It is found in various foods, including fruit, dairy products, beef liver, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables, and spinach. Here is an amazing juice recipe that will offer the recommended daily dose of folate: LINK. Folic acid, which is a man-made form of this vitamin, is also added to various cereals, grains, and bread.

  1. Iron

Why you need Iron: Proteins in the body use an iron to transport oxygen and grow cells. This metal is found in hemoglobin in the body.

Where to get Iron naturally: There are 2 forms of dietary iron: nonheme iron (found in plant sources like beans and lentils) and heme iron (found in some animal foods such as fish, poultry, and meat). Chicken liver contains the greatest amount of heme iron with 61% of the DV or 11 mg per serving.

  1. Vitamin K

Why you need Vitamin K: It’s a vital ingredient in blood clotting or coagulation. Without this vitamin, our body wouldn’t be able to stop bleeding when we bruise or cut ourselves. Read more about bruises and how to get rid of them:

Where to get Vitamin K naturally: The best source of this vitamin are green, leafy vegetables, also called phylloquinone. Next comes kale with 1.2 mg per cup, then spinach and collard greens (about 0.9 mg per cup), and some exotic varieties like mustard, beet greens, and turnip.

Facts: The difference between vitamins and minerals

Even though they are all considered micronutrients, minerals and vitamins vary in basic ways. Minerals are typically inorganic and hang on to their chemical structure. Vitamins are organic and could be broken down by acid, air, or heat.

So, why does this actually matter? It means the minerals in water and soil easily find their way into the body through the animals, fish, fluids, and plants you consume. But it is tougher to transport vitamins from food and other sources into the body because storage, cooking, and exposure to air could deactivate these fragile compounds.

  1. Lycopene

Why you need Lycopene: It is a chemical pigment that is usually found in red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties. Certain studies claim that lycopene may help fight against a range of conditions, including cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
Where to get Lycopene naturally: The richest source of lycopene are tomatoes, and of course, tomato products – such as pastes, purees, sauces – contain more than 75 mg per cup. Watermelon is also a great source of lycopene.

  1. Lysine

Why you need Lysine: Lysine (or l-lysine) helps our form collagen for connective tissue and bones and body absorb calcium. Lysine also plays an important role in the production of carnitine, a great nutrient that can regulate cholesterol levels.
Where to get Lysine naturally: Red meat and other protein-rich animal foods, as well as soybeans, nuts, and legumes are good sources of lysine.

  1. Magnesium

Why you need Magnesium: Our body uses this mineral in more than 301 biochemical reactions. These include maintaining nerve and muscle function, keeping bones strong, and keeping heart rhythm steady.
Where to get Magnesium naturally: Wheat bran is the richest source of magnesium ( 22% of your DV, or 89 mg per ¼ cup) but you have to consume unrefined grains in order to get the benefits; when the bran and germ are eliminated from wheat (as is the case with refined and white bread), the amounts of magnesium are also lost. Some other great sources of magnesium include cashews, almonds, and green vegetables like spinach.

  1. Niacin

Why you need Niacin: Just like its fellow B vitamins, niacin, is essential for converting food into energy. Niacin also helps the skin, nerves, and digestive system to function properly.
Where to get Niacin naturally: A top source of niacin is dried yeast, but for something even more appetizing, you can eat peanut butter or peanuts; just 1 cup of raw peanuts contains about 17.8 mg, more than 100% of the DV. Chicken and beef liver are also niacin-rich, too.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why you need Omega-3 Fatty Acids: In general, fats get a quite bad reputation, but specific types of fats—including omega-3 fatty acids—are actually really healthy in moderation. This fatty acid may help ease inflammation and contribute to brain health.
Where to get Omega-3 Fatty Acids naturallyThere are 2 kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA (found in fatty fish) and Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA (found in plant sources such as green vegetables, vegetable oil, seeds, and nuts.

  1. Potassium

Why you need Potassium: It’s a powerful electrolyte, necessary to control the electrical activities of the heart. Potassium is also used to break down carbohydrates into energy and to build muscle and proteins.
Where to get Potassium naturally: Just one medium-sized baked sweet potato contains about 700 mg of potassium. Regular potatoes, beet greens, and tomato paste are also great sources. Other good sources of potassium are fish, chicken, and red meat.

  1. Riboflavin

Why you need Riboflavin: It’s a great antioxidant that helps the body create energy, produce red blood cells, and fight disease.
Where to get Riboflavin naturally: Beef liver is the best source of riboflavin (at nearly 3.1 mg per 3-ounce serving). Don’t want beef liver? Fortunately, fortified cereals provide are also a great source and will provide similar amounts of riboflavin like the liver.

  1. Selenium

Why you need Selenium: It’s a mineral with potent antioxidant properties. Our body only needs small amounts of it, but it plays a great role in preventing many chronic diseases. Selenium also can regulate thyroid function and support the immune system.
Where to get Selenium naturally: Just 6-8 Brazil nuts provide  545 mcg of selenium, which is 776% of your DV. Too much of this mineral could actually be harmful, though, so stick with the selenium’s number-2 food source—canned tuna (97% of the DV, or 69s mg per 3 ounces)—except on some special occasions. 

  1. Thiamin

Why you need Thiamin: It’s also known as vitamin B1. Thiamin can help the body turn carbohydrates into energy. It is also a significant nutrient for keeping the nervous system and brain running properly.
Where to get Thiamin naturally: Dried yeast, as with riboflavin, is the greatest food source of thiamin. It contains 12 mg per 100-gr serving. However, you might find it easier to get your fill of thiamin with soybeans (1.2 mg) and runners-up pine nuts (1.3 mg per serving).

  1. Zinc

Why you need Zinc: It has been proven to play an important role in immune function, and it is also significant for our senses of smell and taste.
Where to get Zinc naturally: The richest source of zinc are oysters (73 mg per serving, or about 500% of your DV). However, many people more often consume this mineral in poultry and red meat. 3-ounces of beef chuck roast, for instance, contains about 7 mg.


Vitamins and Minerals in Supplement Form

Your Health Tubers always advise taking vitamins and minerals naturally. But if you choose to take vitamins and minerals in supplement form, be aware that taking too long or too many can cause many harmful effects.

Some people may need to take vitamins and minerals in supplement form.

If you are trying to cut down on your salt intake, you may want to avoid vitamins and minerals in the supplement from that come as fizzy or effervescent tablets, as they could contain more than 1g of salt per tablet.




Vitamins and minerals are considered to be essential nutrients because they play numerous important roles in the body. However, there is a fine line between getting enough of these significant nutrients (which is healthy) and getting too much and for too long (which could end up harming you). Leading a healthy diet remains the ideal way to get good amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need.


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  1. Franco malone March 14, 2018
  2. Jahim Jahimez January 10, 2023

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