Proper nutrition isn’t just about looking good. Do you ever get jumpy after drinking too much coffee, or feel sleepy and sluggish after a full meal? If you’ve answered yes to at least one of those scenarios (or maybe even both), you know first hand that what we eat and drink plays a big role in shaping how we feel.
A balanced diet is more than just measuring your carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake. Beneath those main categories are important vitamins and minerals that will help you move about your daily life. On that note, below is a list of eight vitamins and minerals every healthy diet needs.
Vitamin A is necessary for supporting cell growth as well as promoting healthy vision and immune response. Its role in cell growth is particularly important, as this is what keeps your major organs functioning. Thankfully, the National Institutes of Health note that most adults already get enough vitamin A in their diet as is — it occurs in a lot of animal sources like fish oil, milk, and leafy vegetables.
Vitamin C is also necessary for cell growth and repair. The body can’t make this on its own, which is why it’s easy to find vitamin C supplements and sachets in just about any drug store. However, vitamin C is also an antioxidant powerhouse that protects the body from free radicals. It’s no wonder that skincare brands have been using it as a powerful ingredient as of late; Allure’s list of vitamin C serums notes that these formulations focus on brightening the face and reducing inflammation.
You can up your vitamin D intake through foods and supplements, but exposing yourself to the sun (make sure you’re protected, of course) is still the best way to get your stores up. Vitamin D helps promote calcium absorption in the gut, which in turn leads to stronger bones. Research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences reports that vitamin D may also be linked to neurological function, owing to the presence of vitamin D receptors within the nervous system.
This is another skincare favorite. While vitamin E is also known for its antioxidant properties, it also moisturizes the skin and keeps it looking youthful. Aside from these skincare benefits, dietitian Julie Stefanski highlights that vitamin E plays a crucial role in forming large white blood cells. Unfortunately, today’s processed diet means that the average adult isn’t getting as much vitamin E as they should. Regularly consuming leafy greens, nuts, and seeds should hit the spot.
We mentioned calcium earlier on in the article, but it’s worth diving into on its own. As you probably already know, calcium is typically associated with bone health. However, calcium also helps prevent blood clots to keep our heart pumping! Just like vitamin C, our bodies can’t produce calcium on its own. Since we lose calcium every day through sweat, urine, hair, and the like, keeping your intake up ensures that your body doesn’t revert to taking the calcium away from your bones (which ends up leaving your bones extremely brittle). Consuming dairy is the best way to maintain calcium levels in the body, and to that end physician Terry Gaff maintains that even just milk and yogurt are good sources of this mineral.
You need zinc to strengthen your immune system. In fact, zinc is also known for helping flush out the toxins from your body. This is why Pretty Me’s review of WrecOver pills cites zinc as a key ingredient to keeping nasty hangovers at bay and giving your body the boost it needs on a night out. Aside from zinc supplements, you can also get zinc from red meat and poultry. All in all, the benefits of zinc prove that getting the nutrients you need ensures that you can have a little fun now and then, too.
Our many MMScene Lifestyle posts on working out emphasize that watching what you eat is vital for retaining all the hard work you’ve spent at the gym. Magnesium’s anti-inflammatory benefits have made it a popular post-workout supplement for those who like to keep active; leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are also great sources of this. Studies have also found that magnesium may decrease the risk of depression and anxiety.
Vitamin C and oranges are practically synonymous, and so are bananas and potassium. According to Verywell Health, potassium is an essential electrolyte that regulates fluid balance and conducts nerve signals throughout the body. Electrolytes are also necessary for reducing muscle cramps, which is why you’ll see people chomping down on a banana either before or after an intense workout.
It’s safe to say we’ve all learned about vitamins and minerals in our grade school health classes, but it’s time to refresh your knowledge. Knowing how these vitamins and minerals impact your body can give you a greater appreciation of what you eat, as well as how your body moves.