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The Thread
9 Essential Vitamins and Minerals

9 Essential Vitamins and Minerals

13th February 2014

Vitamins and minerals are not simply something we need to keep our bodies in tiptop condition they are integral to keeping us alive. Our bodies need a whole host of essential nutrients to function properly, all of which you should be able to get by eating a varied and balanced diet. However, keeping track of what we need and where we can find it can be confusing. Below, weve laid out the most vital vitamins and minerals you need and why you need them.


Vitamins

Vitamin A

Vital for:
Growth and repair, eyesight, immune system strength and the ability to fight infection

Signs of deficiency:
Poor skin health, poor vision in dim light, dry eyes and increase in infection

Good sources:
Leafy greens e.g. spinach, liver (no more than once a week), eggs, cheese and oily fish.

Vitamin B (A complex of more than 10 vitamins)

Vital for:
Energy, a healthy nervous system, immune system, hormone balance and iron absorption

Signs of deficiency:
Poor appetite, hormonal imbalance, low mood, anaemia and nerve damage

Good sources:
Meat, liver, eggs, nuts and whole grains

Vitamin C

Vital for:
Cell and connective tissue health, enzyme formation, wound healing and absorption of iron

Signs of deficiency:
Scurvy (symptoms include bleeding gums, swollen and sore joints, slow healing)

Good sources:
Citrus fruits, broccoli, sweet potatoes,

Vitamin D

Vital for: Healthy bones and calcium absorption. Signs of deficiency:
Rickets, psoriasis, low mood and fatiguev

Good sources:
Milk, eggs, fortified cereals, liver and oily fish. We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin, which can lead to a slight deficiency in the winter months.

Vitamin E

Vital for:
Antioxidant powers and protection from free radicals, which can cause cell damage.

Signs of deficiency:
Dry hair and skin, slow healing, digestive issues and nerve damage

Good sources:
Nuts, seeds and wheat germ, soya products, vegetable oils e.g. olive, sunflower

Vitamin K

Vital for:
Blood coagulation i.e. clotting and wound healing. Increasing evidence suggests it is beneficial for bone strength.

Signs of deficiency:
Heavy bleeding and easy bruising

Good sources:
Green vegetables e.g. broccoli, spinach and kale, vegetable oils, cereals and meat

Minerals

Calcium

Vital for:
Bone and dental formation and strength, nervous system health

Signs of deficiency:
Brittle nails, eczema, muscle cramps, numbness, weak bones, impaired growth and osteoporosis

Good sources:
Milk and dairy

Iron

Vital for:
Red blood cell formation

Signs of deficiency:
Anaemia symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, brittle nails and impaired immune system

Good sources:
Eggs, meat, liver, fish, whole grains and dark, leafy greens e.g. spinach and kale

Zinc

Vital for:
Growth, repair and development, vitamin C absorption, fertility, immune system strength and wound healing

Signs of deficiency:
Weakened immune system and susceptibility to infection, hair loss, loss of appetite, slow healing and sleep disturbance

Good sources:
Leafy vegetables, meat, whole grains, milk and eggs

A healthy diet can provide all of the nutrients your body needs but the reality of busy lives and poor eating habits can lead to deficiency. If you have any of these symptoms and they persist despite a change in diet, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

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