The 11 main nutrients necessary for a healthy life
Have you ever wondered what your body needs to function optimally? Dahna has prepared a comprehensive guide on the 11 main nutrients you need to survive – find out more about their benefits as well as the richest sources below.
What are the 11 essential nutrients?
When it comes to the proper functioning of our body, we need to make sure we follow a healthy lifestyle. We can do so by following diets rich in nutrients such as:
Vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth, as well as maintaining the immune system and vision.
The most important thing to remember about vitamin A is that it can come from two different sources:
- Preformed vitamin A or retinoids (e.g. retinol or retinoic acid) – found in foods such as beef liver, dairy, fish and fortified cereals
- Carotenoids (eg beta-carotene, the most common carotenoid) – found mainly in carrots but also in sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mango and bell peppers
When talking about vitamin B, we are actually talking about 8 different vitamins. These 8 vitamins are essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair, bones and body cells. They also help in the digestion process, turning the food we eat into energy to fuel our bodies.
Below you have the names of the 8 vitamins, as well as foods rich in vitamin B:
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an essential ally of our immune system. It also helps in many other processes such as:
- collagen production which contributes to wound healing
- neutralization of unstable radicals that attack body cells
- absorption of iron from plant-based foods or dietary supplements (foods such as red meat already contain a high amount of iron which we can absorb easily, so the benefits of vitamin C are not as obvious)
Vitamin C can be most easily obtained from fruits and vegetables: citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach or cauliflower are all very good options.
This vitamin is also known as calciferol because of its help in the absorption of calcium in the body. It helps us keep our bones and teeth healthy, preventing fractures.
Although we can get vitamin D from foods like fish, liver or even eggs, the most important source of vitamin D is sunlight itself.
During the cold months or in Nordic countries where exposure to the sun is reduced, it is essential to maintain the level of vitamin D in the body by eating foods rich in Vitamin D or by taking food supplements.
Vitamin E, together with vitamin C, fulfills an antioxidant role, and protects cells from any unstable radicals that attack them. It also plays an essential role in the protection of vitamin A in the body. Make sure you get an optimal amount of vitamin E in your body by eating foods like sunflower seeds and oil, peanuts or spinach.
The most important role of vitamin K in our body is to help in blood clotting. It can also help prevent fractures by protecting the bones.
The best sources of vitamin K are spinach, green salad, broccoli, blueberries, figs, vegetable oils, pomegranate and grapes.
You probably knew already that this element helps protect bones and teeth, preventing fractures. Did you know, however, that we also need calcium for muscle protection and maintaining healthy blood pressure?
The most important source of calcium is dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.). If you don’t eat foods of animal origin or you are lactose intolerant, you can also get calcium from foods like tofu, salmon, or broccoli.
Iron is another essential element for the proper functioning of our body. It is found in the blood, as it helps form red blood cells.
The most important source of iron is red meat. However, high consumption of red meat could have harmful effects on health, so we recommend other sources of iron such as seafood, lentils, beans, tofu, cashews and broccoli.
Magnesium plays an important role in the proper functioning of more than 300 enzymes that regulate various processes in our body, such as:
- muscle function
- nerve function
- heart rate
- glucose control
Magnesium also helps maintain our bones alongside calcium, and may help prevent cardiovascular disease. You can get magnesium from foods like nuts, spinach, beans, peanuts, rice or yogurt.
Potassium is useful in maintaining a regular heart rate and lowering blood pressure. You can get a lot of potassium from bananas, but also from raisins, apricots, lentils, milk or spinach.
The last item on our list of beneficial nutrients for a healthy lifestyle is zinc. We need zinc to maintain the immune system, but also for good growth and development, especially in children.
Good sources of zinc are foods such as beef, crab or lobster meat, beans, yogurt, and cashews.
How can Dahna help you get your main nutrients?
For a balanced nutrition without too much effort, download Dahna to get our daily menus customized to your body’s needs. They are built with medical expertise and based on the Mediterranean diet, the best diet in preventing cardiovascular disease.
What sets us apart from other apps of this kind is our own custom menu generation algorithm, tailored for improving heart health. Through this personalisation, users receive recommendations and meal plans tailored to their individual needs, which can directly improve their cardiometabolic health.
There is no other app of its kind that offers this unique combination of features and benefits. Start your journey to a healthier heart and life with Dahna today!