From Vitamin A to Zinc, there are so many vitamins and minerals in foods that are important to our health. It can be hard to keep track of what vitamin is beneficial for which body function and most importantly, where to find these important nutrients in food. These fact sheets provide all the info you need to know about vitamins and minerals in food. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list but it’s a good start towards making sure you are eating the right foods to get the nutrients you need.
Minerals may seem really complex and confusing. With so many different minerals, it can be hard to keep track of what they are, what they do, and where you can find them. By using this fact sheet, you can make all this information seem “elemental” and become a rock-solid expert regarding minerals.
Did You Know?
There are two types of essential minerals: major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals). Both are needed and equally important, but trace minerals are needed in less amounts than major minerals.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber are considered nutrients of public health concern because low intakes are associated with negative health conditions.
About 99% of the human body is made up of 6 elements: two of which include calcium and phosphorus!
|Mineral||Functions in the Body||Where to Find in Foods and Beverages|
|Calcium||Dental health, nerve health, muscle health, bone health||Animal-based foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese; plant-based foods like kale and broccoli; and fortified foods like breakfast cereals, soy foods and fruit juices|
|Chloride||Heart health, nerve health, muscle health||Salt, seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, and olives|
|Chromium||Metabolism||Animal-based foods like meat, poultry, fish, and processed meats; and plant-based foods like whole grains|
|Copper||Heart health||Animal-based foods like organ meats, chicken, seafood, milk; and plant-based foods like potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, tea, and cocoa|
|Fluoride||Bone health, dental health||Seafood foods with iodized salt and fluoridated water|
|Iodine||Metabolism, nerve health, heart health, muscle health||Iodized salt, bread, seafood, and plant and animal products grown in most parts of the country|
|Iron||Metabolism, heart health||Animal-based foods like meat, fish, and poultry; plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain breads, and whole-grain pasta; and fortified foods like breads, cereals, and breakfast bars|
|Magnesium||Metabolism, dental health, muscle health, bone health||Animal-based foods like meats, milk, and eggs; and plant-based foods like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts|
|Manganese||Bone health, heart health, muscle health||Plant-based foods like grains, tea, and vegetables|
|Molybdenum||Metabolism||Plant-based foods like legumes, grain products, and nuts|
|Phosphorus||Metabolism, bone health, dental health||Animal-based foods like meat, poultry, fish; and dairy; and plant-based foods like nuts and beans|
|Potassium||Muscle health, nerve health||Animal-based foods like meat and milk; and plant-based foods like leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, and root vegetables|
|Selenium||Immunity||Animal-based foods like meat, seafood, and diary; and plant-based foods like cereals grains, fruits, and vegetables|
|Sodium||Muscle health, nerve health, heart health||Salt, packaged foods and sauces|
|Zinc||Immunity, metabolism||Animal-based foods like red meat, and seafood; plant-based foods like whole grains; and fortified foods like breakfast cereals|
Are you confused by what folate, folic acid, or folinic acid are? Not sure about the difference between dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], calcitriol, or cholecalciferol? Prefer vitamin C over ascorbic acid? All vitamins have common and scientific names. Even though some names may sound scary or unfamiliar, they are simply the scientific name for a common vitamin. Use this fact sheet to clear up the “alphabet soup” of vitamins: what they are, what health benefits they offer, and where you can find them in food.
|Vitamin||Other Names/Precursors||Functions in the Body||Where to Find in Foods|
|A||retinol, retinyl palmitate, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin A acetate, beta-carotene||Eye health, immunity, metabolism||Animal-based foods like liver, dairy products, and fish; plant-based foods like carrots, broccoli, squash, peas, spinach, cantaloupe, and oils; and fortified foods like grains, margarine, and non-fat/low-fat milk|
|B1||thiamine, thiamine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate||Metabolism, muscle health||Animal-based foods like pork and ham; plant-based foods like whole grain foods; enriched foods like bread and bread products; and fortified foods like fortified cereals and fortified meat substitutes|
|B2||riboflavin, riboflavin 5′-phosphate sodium||Metabolism, nerve health||Animal-based foods like organ meats, milk, and milk products; plant-based foods like breads; and fortified foods like ready-to-eat cereals|
|B3||niacin, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, niacinamide ascorbate||Metabolism, nerve health||Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, beans, nuts, and whole and enriched grains|
|B5||pantothenic acid, calcium pantothenate, D-pantothenamide||Metabolism, nerve health, heart health, muscle health||Animal-based foods like beef, fish, and poultry; plant-based foods like whole-grain foods; enriched grain foods like bread, pasta, flour, breakfast cereal, and rice; and fortified foods like ready-to-eat cereals|
|B6||pyridoxine, pyridoxine hydrochloride||Metabolism||Animal-based foods like chicken, beef, liver, kidney, yeast, and eggs; and plant-based foods like potatoes, oat cereals, tomato products, broccoli, and whole-grain foods|
|B7||biotin||Metabolism, skin health, brain health||Few foods are good sources of biotin, consider supplements|
|B9||folate, folic acid, folacin||Metabolism||Plant-based foods like dark green vegetables, beans, and legumes; enriched grain foods like bread, pasta, flour, breakfast cereal, and rice; and fortified foods like citrus juice|
|B12||cyanocobalamin||Metabolism, heart health, nerve health, muscle health||All animal-based foods, especially organ meats such as liver, shellfish, and some fish (such as herring, sardines, and trout); and fortified foods such as ready-to-eat cereals and meal replacement shakes|
|C||ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate||Metabolism, skin health, nerve health, immunity||Plant-based foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato juice, potatoes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, cabbage, and spinach; and fortified foods|
|D||ergocalciferol, cholecalciferol, calcifediol, vitamin D2, vitamin D3||Metabolism, gut health, bone health||Animal-based foods like fatty fish, some fish-liver oils, and eggs; and fortified foods like milk and milk products, margarine, breakfast cereals, and some fruit juices|
|E||tocopherols, alpha-tocopherol acetate, dl-alpha-tocopherol||Metabolism, heart health, immunity||Animal-based foods like fatty meats; and plant-based foods like vegetable oils, cereal grains, nuts, fruits, vegetable|
|K||phylloquinone, phytomenadione, phytonadione||Metabolism, heart health, bone health||Plant-based foods like leafy green vegetables, broccoli,canola oils, margarine, and soy foods|