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Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.

Below is a list of essential nutrients and which foods are the best source for each.

Vitamin A: Maintains healthy skin and mucous membranes. Necessary for effective vision, especially at night. Needed for correct bone development and growth.

Food sources: Parsley, kale, spinach, watercress, broccoli, turnips, carrots, apricots, red peppers, eggs, sweet potatoes, lettuce, cheese, cod liver oils, tomatoes, butter, liver and fish.

Vitamin D: Helps the body utilize Calcium and Phosphorous for strong bones and teeth.

Food sources: Eggs, goat or soya milk & fish liver oil.

Vitamin E: Protective Anti-Oxidant mopping up substances called 'free radicals'. Needed for the health of the heart, circulation, nerves, muscles and red blood cells.

Food sources: Green veg. eggs, peanuts, unrefined sunflower oil, wheat germ, wholemeal bread, bananas, butter, lettuce, whole grains, goats milk, spinach, black treacle, soya beans, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds and avocados.

Beta Carotene: An Anti-Oxidant which mops up 'free radicals' which can cause damage to cells and tissues. Beta Carotene can also be converted into vitamin A in the body.

Food sources: Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, cos lettuce, butternut squash, cantaloupe melon, sweet red peppers, dried apricots, peas and broccoli.

Thiamin (Vit.B1): Needed for the release of energy from Carbohydrates. Aids in the functioning of the nervous system.

Food sources: Green leafy veg., wheat germ, fish roe, dried beans, chickpeas, hazelnuts, wheat & oat bran, egg yolk, watercress, tomatoes, peas, breakfast cereals, yeast extract, brown rice, roast pork, kidney, liver, peanuts and bran.

Riboflavin (Vit.B2) Needed for converting proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy. Also important for skin and eye health.

Food sources: Brewers yeast powder, egg yolk, cottage cheese, green leafy veg., poultry, mushrooms, liver, mackerel, salmon and tomatoes.

Niacin (Vit. B3) Vital for energy release in tissues and cells. Helps to maintain healthy nervous and digestive systems.

Food sources: Green leafy veg., fish oils, peanuts, liver, mushrooms, brewers yeast powder, beef, poultry, yeast extract, potatoes, cheese, bread and tomatoes.

Vitamin B6: Important in protein metabolism. Vital for maintaining a healthy nervous system, skin, muscles and blood.

Food sources: Pigs liver, wholemeal bread, eggs, watercress, nuts, bananas, yeast extract, soya beans, kidneys, goats milk, green leafy veg., seaweeds, oat & wheat bran, sunflower seeds, black treacle, salmon and beef.

Folic Acid: Essential for growth and reproduction of cells, particularly red blood cells. Particularly important as a supplement for women of childbearing age.

Food sources: Green leafy veg., brewers yeast, root veg., whole grains, oysters, salmon, dates, mushrooms, orange juice, liver, chickpeas, lentils, eggs, oats, nuts, apricots and melon.

Vitamin B12: Needed for red blood cell production and maintenance of the productive sheath around nerves. Vegans in particular may require additional amounts of this vitamin.

Food sources:Brewers yeast and yeast extract, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, goats milk, liver & kidneys, seaweeds, wheat germ, oysters, beef, pork and breakfast cereals.

Biotin: Involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Needed for healthy skin and hair.

Food sources: Vegetables, pigs liver, cheese, eggs, yoghurt, fish, nuts, fruit, brown rice, wholemeal bread & goats or soya milk.

Pantothenic Acid (Vit B5): Plays a vital role in the release of energy from foods. Needed for healthy growth and the production of antibodies.

Food sources: Liver, beans, eggs, pulses, nuts, soya beans, brown rice, molasses, avocado pears, watercress, tomatoes, wholemeal bread and dried fruit.

Vitamin C: An Anti-Oxidant which helps white blood cells fight infection. Also needed for healthy skin and enhances absorption of iron from non-meat sources.

Food sources: Citrus fruits, onions, garlic, red & green peppers, parsley, black currants, horseradish, green leafy veg., rosehips, oregano, paprika, strawberries, potatoes, watermelon, carrots, watercress, kiwi fruit, lettuce, tomatoes and bananas.


Calcium: Needed for healthy, strong bones and teeth and the functioning of nerves and muscles.

Food sources: Goats or Soya milk, eggs, oily fish, green veg., shellfish, black treacle, prunes, almonds, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds & grains, seaweeds, sesame seeds, oranges, papayas, watermelon, carrots and mineralised water.

Phosphorus: Needed for a strong skeleton. A component of ATP - the immediate source of energy in muscle tissue.

Food sources: Dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, tofu and eggs.

Magnesium: Plays a role in bone structure, central to energy release and the functioning of nerves and muscles. Important for cardiovascular health.

Food source: Seafood, pasta, peas, soya beans, nuts, fish, chicken, brewers yeast, wholemeal bread, cheese, sprouted seeds & grains, green leafy veg., wheat germ, seaweeds, black treacle, avocados, dates and dried apricots.

Copper: Component (with Zinc and Manganese) of an Anti-Oxidant enzyme system. Needed for Melanin (skin pigment) formation and iron metabolism.

Food source: Oysters (& other shellfish), whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes and organ meats (kidney, liver).

Chromium: Required for normal Glucose (blood sugar) metabolism; may also have a role in controlling blood fat levels.

Food source: Brewers yeast, black pepper, calf's liver, wholemeal bread, beef, potatoes, cheese, skimmed milk, bananas, wheat germ and wholewheat bread.

Iodine: Needed for the production of Thyroid hormones that regulate metabolic rate.

Food sources: Kelp, fish oils, sea salt and vegetables.

Iron: Carries vital oxygen around the body as part of the blood pigment Haemoglobin.

Food sources: Cherry juice, seaweeds, brewer's yeast powder, brown meats, liver, green leafy veg., whole grains, pulses, sprouted seeds and grains, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, watermelon, egg yolk, nuts, mushrooms, beetroot, watercress, figs, wheat germ, corned beef and plain chocolate.

Manganese: Component (with Copper and Zinc) of an Anti-Oxidant enzyme system. Needed for sex hormone formations, healthy bones, joints and the nervous system.

Food sources: Leafy green veg., whole grains, tea, nuts, baker's yeast, coconut, peas, almonds, rye bread, egg yolk, brown rice, chestnuts and pineapple. 

Molybdenum: Involved in iron metabolism and in the production of Uric Acid ( a waste product found in urine). Necessary for normal sexual functioning in males.

Food sources: Beans and legumes, almonds, peanuts, cashews, edamane (immature green soybeans), yoghurt and cottage cheese.

Selenium: Anti-Oxidant mineral which helps protect the delicate fatty part of cells from going rancid. Needed for healthy liver tissue.

Food source: Whole wheat grain, Brazil nuts, offal, fish, shellfish, goat or soya milk, fruit and veg., beef, wholemeal bread, onion, tomatoes and broccoli.

Zinc: Component (with Copper and Manganese) of an Anti-Oxidant enzyme system. Needed for healthy reproductive and immune systems. Also required for tissue repair / renewal and for sense of taste and smell.

Food sources: Beef, pork, seafood, goat or soya milk, green veg., cereal, eggs, chicken, fish, bananas, wheat germ, whole grains, seeds, seaweeds, nuts, pulses, sprouted grain & seeds, oysters, baker's yeast, liver, lentils, lamb, pumpkin seeds and ground mustard.