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Learn About These 6 Vitamins + Minerals


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

How much do you know about the vitamins and minerals you eat in your food every day? We don't always think about the foods we eat by their individual health benefits. However, as a kid, I had a natural interest in what was in my food. That's how my parents were able to bribe me to eat my vegetables! For example, when I ate carrots, I would tell myself, "These are good for my eyes," because I knew carrots were high in vitamin A. Yes, I was a strange kid!

If you weren't as weird as me, maybe you don't remember everything you learned about nutrition throughout your years. While this article definitely doesn't cover everything, I've chosen six vitamins and minerals that are super important for our health. Click on each one to learn what the health benefits are and how you can make sure you get enough in your diet.

1. Turmeric + Ginger

In the drinks sections of most health food stores, you'll typically find little bottles of juice 'shots' for different health purposes. A common combination you have probably seen is turmeric and ginger. I have to admit—the cute size and promise of health made me start buying them without even reading about what those ingredients are good for! So, if you're like me and went straight for the cute bottle, or if you're not like me and are curious to know the point of those little juice shots, keep reading to learn more about why we need turmeric and ginger!

2. B Vitamins

When we learn nutrition in school as kids, there's a big focus on the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. But unless you took nutrition classes later in life, you may not have learned about each individual vitamin and which foods to find them all in. Here, you'll learn all about B vitamins, why we need a variety of them, and how to get enough of each.

3. Zinc + Selenium

Do you know what zinc and selenium are? They are minerals that don't get a ton of publicity, but they provide us with tons of health benefits, including fighting illnesses. I grew up in a household that frequently took supplements and went the more natural route with health, and I have it so drilled into me to take a zinc lozenge when I start to feel any cold symptoms—and I usually don't stay sick for very long when I do get something!

Beyond being great for your immune system, zinc and selenium are also major skin savers and help fight acne and dull skin. In fact, when your body distributes your zinc intake, 20% of it is held in your skin. So if you feel stuck and like your skin just isn't cooperating, take a look at your intake of these minerals.

4. Acidophilus

We hear a lot about probiotics and their benefits, but do you know much about the individual types? Acidophilus is one of the more sought-after probiotics, so we'll tackle it today and learn everything there is to know about what it does and where to find it.

The full name is lactobacillus acidophilus, and Dr. Ruairi Robertson at Healthline explains that, "Its name gives an indication of what it produces — lactic acid. It does this by producing an enzyme called lactase. Lactase breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk, into lactic acid."

5. Omega-3

There are three different types of omega fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. Omega-6s and omega-9s are pretty easily found a little less important than omega-3s, so that's why you see so much focusing on that one. Omega-3 is labeled an essential fatty acid, and the only way to get it in our bodies is through the food we eat.

As a vegetarian, I have to be even more intentional about my omega-3 intake because it is easiest to get in fish. In fact, many people take fish oil supplements to insure they get enough omega-3s each day. But don't worry! There are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan ways to get this essential fatty acid. You just have to be intentional about the foods you eat.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D makes me think of relaxing sunny days. After all, our bodies use sunlight and cholesterol to produce it. But unfortunately, we're not always lounging outside. While there a few ways to get it in our food, it's typically not enough without also having sunlight exposure. That can be hard if you don't spend a lot of time outdoors. Here I'm going to break down how to know if you're getting enough vitamin D and how to get more if you need to.

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer