Blog overview vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and Minerals: Food Sources and Deficiency Risks Explained | The Fair Flow

Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in our bodies' daily functioning, providing us with the essential nutrients we need to stay healthy. Our body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals, and each nutrient has a specific function. For example, vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune system, while calcium is important for strong bones and teeth.

Food is the best source of vitamins and minerals, and a well-balanced diet can provide us with all the nutrients we need. However, many people do not consume enough vitamins and minerals, which can lead to deficiencies and health problems. Common vitamin deficiencies include vitamin D, vitamin B12, and vitamin C, while common mineral deficiencies include iron, calcium, and zinc.

Deficiency risks vary depending on the nutrient, but some groups of people are at a higher risk of developing deficiencies. For example, vegetarians and vegans may have a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, as this nutrient is primarily found in animal products. Pregnant women and young children are also at a higher risk of developing deficiencies, as they require more nutrients to support growth and development.

Vitamins and Minerals

Micronutrients and macronutrients

Vitamins and minerals are collectively known as micronutrients, while macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Micronutrients are required in smaller amounts than macronutrients, but they are still essential for our health. Without proper intake of micronutrients, we may experience deficiencies, which can lead to health problems. Vitamins play a vital role in supporting various body functions and processes, as each type of vitamin offers unique benefits.

Fat and water-soluble vitamins

Vitamins can be broken down into two distinct classifications: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, and K) can be stored in the body’s fatty tissue. These vitamins are best absorbed with foods that contain fats or oils. Conversely, water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B and C) cannot be stored in the body and must be regularly replenished.

Understanding vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of our diet and play a significant role in maintaining our overall health. With 13 types of vitamins and 17 different minerals, it can be difficult to keep track of which nutrients we need and where we can get them from.

Here, we’ll explain the function of each vitamin and mineral, as well as provide a list of food sources for each nutrient.

Vitamins, Vitamins Deficiency, and Their Food Sources

Vitamins, Vitamins Deficiency, and Their Food Sources

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining optimal vision, skin health, and a strong immune system. Vitamin A is found in animal products such as beef, liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, and fortified milk. Plant sources include sweet potatoes, carrots (beta carotene), pumpkins, spinach, and mangoes.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, dry eyes, and decreased immune system function.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is important for energy metabolism and nerve function. It is found in whole grains, pork, beef, nuts, and beans.

Vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to a variety of issues in the nervous system, heart, and blood vessels, as well as digestive organs such as the stomach and intestines.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is important for energy metabolism and healthy skin. It is found in milk, eggs, cheese, green vegetables, and lean meats.

Vitamin B2 deficiency can lead to cracked lips, anemia, and fatigue.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is important for energy metabolism and healthy skin. It is found in meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and mushrooms.

Vitamin B3 deficiency can lead to dermatitis, fatigue, anemia, and depression.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is important for energy metabolism and healthy skin. It is found in meat, whole grains, mushrooms, and avocados.

Vitamin B5 deficiency can lead to fatigue, insomnia, and irritability.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is important for protein metabolism and nerve function. It is found in meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and bananas.

Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to anemia, confusion, and depression.

Vitamin B7

Biotin, also referred to as Vitamin B7, is an essential vitamin for luxurious hair, glowing skin and strong nails. It is found in eggs, liver, nuts, and whole grains.

Vitamin B7 deficiency can lead to hair loss, skin rashes, and fatigue.

Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)

While some countries refer to it as vitamin B9, in its natural form, folate is present in foods as tetrahydrofolic acid-polyglutamate. However, in supplements and fortified foods, pteroylmonoglutamic acid (PMG) is commonly used.

This essential nutrient is critical for the proper development of the brain and spinal cord during fetal development and helps prevent certain birth defects. Additionally, folate is essential for the production of red and white blood cells and DNA synthesis.

Since our bodies can't store folate for long, it's important to maintain adequate intake through a healthy diet or supplementation. Vitamin B9 is found in leafy green vegetables, beans, beef liver, avocados, and oranges.

Vitamin B9 deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, and poor memory.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is important for nerve function and red blood cell production. It is found in animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy foods, and fortified cereals and soy products for vegetarians and vegans.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, nerve damage, and fatigue.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays an integral role in your immune system, helps heal wounds effectively, and boosts collagen production. It is found in citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, tomatoes, peppers, and green vegetables.

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to fatigue, dry skin, and weakened immunity.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system. It is found in fatty fish, fortified milk, and cereals, and can be synthesized by the body through exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, weak bones, and poor immune system function.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important for healthy skin and immune function. It is found in vegetable oils, green vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.

Vitamin E deficiency can lead to weakened immunity, nerve, and muscle damage.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for maintaining proper blood clotting and bone strength. It is found in cabbage, eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli, and kale.

Vitamin K deficiency can lead to increased bleeding, anemia, and weakened bones.

Overall, vitamins are essential for maintaining good health, so it is important to consume a balanced diet that includes foods rich in these nutrients. If you think you may be deficient in any of the above vitamins, talk to your doctor about supplementation and other treatment options.

Minerals and Their Food Sources

Minerals and Their Food Sources

Minerals are an integral part of our diet, essential inorganic elements that the body requires in small quantities. These micronutrients do not provide energy, but they play a crucial role in ensuring that our body can effectively extract energy from the foods we eat. Trace minerals, including chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc, are particularly important for good health. Whether we obtain our minerals from the plants we eat or the animals we consume, it is important to ensure we are getting the right balance of these essential nutrients.


Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium is essential for muscle activity, nerve signaling, and blood coagulation. Good sources of calcium include:

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Fortified plant-based kinds of milk
  • Broccoli, kale, and spinach
  • Fish, such as salmon and sardines
  • Calcium-fortified foods like tofu and orange juice


Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin- the protein that carries oxygen throughout our bloodstream. It also plays a role in immune function and cognitive development. Good sources of iron include:

  • Red meat, poultry, and fish
  • Beans and lentils
  • Silverbeet, spinach and broccoli
  • Iron-fortified cereals and breads


Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, and blood pressure regulation. Good sources of magnesium include:

  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Avocado and bananas


Phosphorus is necessary for strong bones and teeth, as well as energy metabolism and cell function. Good sources of phosphorus include:

  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Whole grains, such as wheat and oats
  • Nuts and seeds


Potassium is important for muscle and nerve function, as well as blood pressure regulation. Good sources of potassium include:

  • Bananas and other fruits
  • Green vegetables
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Beans and lentils


Sodium is necessary for fluid balance and nerve function, but most people consume too much sodium. Sources of sodium include:

  • Salt and salty snacks
  • Ready-to-eat meals like canned soups and frozen dinners
  • Bread and other baked goods

Most fruits and vegetables contain small amounts of sodium.


Zinc plays a crucial role in promoting healthy immune functioning, aiding in the healing of wounds and encouraging cellular growth and division. Good sources of zinc include:

  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains, such as wheat and oats
  • Legumes, such as chickpeas and lentils


Copper is necessary for the production of red blood cells, as well as nerve and immune function. Good sources of copper include:

  • Shellfish, such as oysters and crab
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Organ meats, such as liver and kidneys
  • Dark chocolate


Manganese helps us with strong bones, healing wounds quickly, and making sure our body works the way it should. Good sources of manganese include:

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Tea


Selenium is necessary for thyroid function and immune system health. Good sources of selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Seafood, such as tuna and shrimp
  • Whole grains, such as wheat and rice
  • Meat

Vitamin and mineral supplements

As the saying goes, you are what you eat, and that applies not only to your overall health but also to the nutrients that your body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are two of the essential nutrients that your body requires in small amounts, just like fuel for a car. While a healthy and balanced diet can provide you with all the necessary nutrients needed, some factors like a busy schedule, dietary restrictions, or a specific health condition may make it challenging for you to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals from food. However, if you decide to take supplements, it's always best to seek advice from a healthcare professional to ensure that you are making the right choices for your body.