Proteins, fats and carbs are the big three nutrients but there are many other ‘micronutrients’ which are just as essential. A good well-balanced diet should ensure that you get everything you need but adding a multivitamin and mineral supplement is recommended in the introductory phases of some diets. Concerns have been expressed in the past about high-protein diets not providing enough of some of the B vitamins, especially vitamin B1, and folic acid but this should not be so much of a problem on the newer ones.
Check that you regularly eat foods containing all of the vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C. Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K) and minerals (Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Chromium and Iodine). If you decide to take a supplement, then don’t exceed the RDA (recommended daily allowance) given on the packaging as some can be dangerous in high doses. Avoid any supplements that are close to their sell-by date as they will be less potent. Vegetarians may need to supplement their diets with vitamin B12, which cannot be obtained from non-animal foods.
Types of vitamins and minerals
Vitamin A: This is essential for strong bones, good eyesight, healthy skin, healing. Vitamin A is found in eggs, butter, fish oils, dark green and yellow fruits and vegetables, liver.
Vitamin B1: This is essential for growth, nerve function, conversion of blood sugar into energy. Vitamin B1 is found in plant and animal foods, especially wholegrain products, brown rice, seafood and beans.
Vitamin B2: This is essential for cell growth and reproduction, energy production. Vitamin B2 is found in Milk and dairy produce, green leafy vegetables, liver kidneys, yeast.
Vitamin B3: This is essential for digestion, energy, the nervous system. Vitamin B3 is found in Meats, fish and poultry, whole grains, peanuts and avocados.
Vitamin B5: This is essential for strengthening immunity and fighting infections, healing wounds. Vitamin B5 is found in organ meats, fish, eggs, chicken, nuts and whole grain cereals.
Vitamin B6: This is essential for the production of new cells, a healthy immune system, production of antibodies and white blood cells. Vitamin B6 Meat, eggs, whole grains, yeast, cabbage, melon, molasses.
Vitamin B12: This is essential for energy and concentration, production of red blood cells, growth in children. Vitamin B12 is found in fish, diary produce, beef, pork, lamb, organ meats, eggs and milk.
Vitamin C: This is essential for healthy skin, bones, muscles, healing, eyesight and protection from viruses. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruit and vegetables, potatoes, leafy herbs and berries.
Vitamin D: This is essential for healthy teeth, and bones, vital for growth. This is found in milk and diary products, eggs, and fatty fish.
Vitamin E: This is essential for absorption of iron and essential fatty acids, slowing the aging process, increasing fertility. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, eggs, milk, 3whole grains, leafy green vegetables, avocados and soya.
Vitamin K: This is essential for blood clotting. Vitamin K is found in Green vegetables, apricots, milk products, whole grains, and cod liver oil.
Calcium: This is essential for strong bones and teeth, hormones and muscles, blood clotting and the regulation of blood pressure. Calcium is found in dairy produce, leafy green vegetables, salmon, nuts, root vegetables, tofu.
Iron: This is essential for supply of oxygen to the cells and healthy immune system. Iron is found in liver, kidney, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, shellfish, pulse, dark green vegetables, egg yolks, red meat, beans, and molasses.
Magnesium: This is essential for transmission of nerve impulses, development of bones, growth and repair of cells. Magnesium is found in brown rice, soya beans, nuts, whole grains, bitter chocolate, and legumes.
Potassium: This is essential for maintaining water balance, nerve muscle function. Potassium is found in avocados, leafy green vegetables, bananas, fruit and vegetable juices, potatoes and nuts.
Iodine: This is essential for keeping hair, skin, nails and teeth healthy. Iodine is found in fish and seafood, pineapple, dairy produce, raisins.