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Did you know you couldn’t eat, think, talk, run, or even fight off diseases without vitamins and minerals? Vitamins are essential nutrients for the human body. But do you know which vitamins are the most important, what they do, and which foods are good sources? Here are the top 5 vitamins your mind and body need to function properly:

  1. Vitamin D
  2. Folic Acid
  3. Calcium
  4. Magnesium
  5. Zinc

To help you get a better understanding, we’ll go over each of the top 5 vitamins. We’ll also highlight how to get the recommended daily dose from natural sources and what can happen if you have too much.

When vitamins are absorbed through natural food, your entire body is nurtured. You’re getting necessary nutrients in a pure form.

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​1. Vitamin D

This essential vitamin is a must for building strong teeth and bones. It also aids in calcium absorption.

Vitamin D has neuro-protective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that boosts brain cell activity, muscle function, and immune health.

Natural sources of Vitamin D

The best and cheapest source of this vitamin is from exposure to sunlight. The human body automatically manufactures this vitamin when your skin comes into contact with sunlight.

The quantity of vitamin D produced will depend on several factors like skin pigmentation, season, time of day, latitude, etc.

Vitamin D doesn’t naturally occur in most foods. You can still obtain it from fortified cereals and milk, and fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines.

Recommended Daily Dosage

Adults aged between 19 and 70 years must have 15 mcg or 600 IU of vitamin D per day.

Is too much bad for you?

Yes. Excess vitamin D can be detrimental. Symptoms of excess vitamin D include:

  • excess urination
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • muscle weakness
  • kidney stones
  • thirst
  • loss of appetite

Extremely high amounts of this vitamin can lead to irregular heartbeat, kidney failure, and possibly death.

2. Folic Acid

Folic acid is another name for vitamin B9. This is a synthetic vitamin used in fortified foods and supplements. In plants and animals, it is called folate. The human body cannot make it so it must be obtained through food.

This vitamin is important for many critical functions such as making and repairing DNA, maturing red blood cells, and various metabolic processes.

Expectant mothers who are deficient in folate often have babies with birth defects. A deficiency of vitamin B9 can lead to certain cancers, megaloblastic anemia, and even heart disease.

Natural Sources of Folic Acid

This key vitamin is found in a wide range of foods including:

  • eggs
  • avocado
  • kale
  • spinach
  • beef liver
  • broccoli
  • citrus fruits
  • flour
  • breakfast cereals
  • bread

Recommended Daily Dosage

The total body content of folate ranges between 10 and 30 mg. Most of this stored in the liver, tissues, and blood.

The recommended daily dosage for adults is 400 mcg whereas for expectant mothers it is 600 mcg.

Is too much folic acid bad for you?

Yes. Excess intake of folic acid can lead to several health problems such as:

  • trouble sleeping
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • bloating or gas
  • skin rash
  • fever
  • tightness in the chest
  • cognitive disturbances

3. Calcium

This is an essential vitamin needed by all living organisms, especially humans. Most of the body’s calcium is found in the teeth and bones.

We require calcium to maintain and build strong teeth and bones. Calcium maintains communication signals between the brain and rest of the body.

It also plays a critical role in cardiovascular function and muscle movement.

Consuming required amounts of calcium has other benefits such as:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing your chances of developing colorectal adenomas
  • Improving cholesterol values

Calcium is also a co-factor for several enzymes.

Natural Sources of Calcium

You can easily obtain calcium from a wide range of drinks and foods. These are good sources:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Almonds, chia and sesame seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables

Recommended Daily Dosage

Adults until age 50 require up to 1,000 mg per day. The recommended daily intake is 1,200 mg per day for females above 50 years.

Is too much calcium bad for you?

Many people report symptoms like gas, bloating, and constipation when taking calcium supplements. Excess calcium can lead to:

  • Constipation
  • Kidney problems
  • Kidney stones
  • Calcification of blood vessels
  • Thyroid problems
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Hinders iron absorption

4. Magnesium

This mineral is another important source for healthy bones in the body. It ensures the growth and maintenance of your bones.

This mineral is vital for the functioning of muscles, nerves, and other processes. For instance, magnesium neutralizes your stomach acid and pushes stool towards the intestine.

Most people can easily get sufficient magnesium from eating a well-balanced diet. However, if their magnesium levels are too low, supplements may be necessary.

Low magnesium levels often occur in women and the elderly. Heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and osteoporosis are a few diseases associated with low magnesium.

Natural Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium is easily available in a variety of foods like:

  • Black beans, kidney beans, and legumes
  • Peanut butter, cashews, and almonds
  • Brown rice, oats, and whole grains
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Soy products
  • Dairy products like yogurt and milk

Recommended Daily Dosage

Adult males between the ages of 19 and 30 must consume 400 mg of magnesium per day. This increases to 420 mg for adult males between 31 and 50 years.

Females between 19 and 30 years require 310 mg per day and this increases to 320 mg between 31 and 50 years.

Is too much magnesium bad for you?

Too much magnesium may occur if you are taking supplements. In such cases, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Facial flushing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Breathing difficulties

5. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for your body. After iron, it is the second most abundant mineral in your body.

It plays a key role in many bodily process such as:

  • Immune function
  • Gene expression
  • Protein synthesis
  • Enzyme reactions
  • Wound healing

Natural Sources of Zinc

Since your body cannot make or store zinc, you must obtain it through a healthy diet. Luckily, zinc is readily available through both animal and plant sources.

  • Oysters, lobster, crab, and clams
  • Beef, lamb, and pork
  • Sardines, salmon, and flounder
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Eggs
  • Cashews, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds
  • Cheese, milk, and yogurt
  • Oats, quinoa, and brown rice
  • Mushrooms, peas, beet greens, and kale

Recommended Daily Allowance

For adult males, 11 mg of zinc is necessary whereas in females it’s 8 mg.

Is too much zinc bad for you?

Yes. Consuming too much zinc can cause the following adverse effects:

  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • headaches

Consuming more than 150 to 450 mg per day may cause changes in iron function, low copper levels, impaired immune function, and reduction in HDL (good) cholesterol.

Multi-Vitamins versus Complete Meals: Which is better for you?

With busy schedules, it’s often difficult to consistently eat a complete meal that covers all the necessary food groups and servings of vitamins and minerals.

So, the most of us turn to supplements and multi-vitamins to “fill in” the nutritional gaps. Is this beneficial?

Multi-vitamins include all the essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and herbs necessary for your body. A single tablet or pill contains a daily dose of all these nutrients.

However, by taking multi-vitamins you’re increasing your total nutrient intake. Perhaps even exceeding. This can cause toxicity within your organs.

For example, vitamin D is essential for survival but when taken in excess amounts can cause kidney issues.

In addition, supplements are often manufactured with active ingredients that can trigger powerful biological effects. Some of them might be life-threatening.

When vitamins are absorbed through natural food, your entire body is nurtured. You’re getting necessary nutrients in a pure form.

If you are considering taking a multi-vitamin or supplement, do so under the guidance of your physician or nutritionist. He or she will help you strike a balance between eating complete meals and taking nutrients from supplements.

Best “Bang For Your Buck” Foods

When you’re preparing your meals, look for foods that are nutrient-dense. Listed below are foods packed with essential micro and macro nutrients:

  • Wild salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Kale
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
  • Pumpkin
  • Bell peppers (all colors)
  • Bone Broth
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Chicken and beef liver
  • Seaweed

Vitamins and minerals play key roles in the healthy functioning of your body. They essentially determine the quality of your well-being.

Most vitamins and minerals can be easily obtained through a wholesome diet, while others require supplementation. Knowing where to get your nutrients and how much to take will help you lead a healthy lifestyle.

Conclusion

The information above is to help you make sure your body is getting exactly what it needs. But before making changes to your diet, it’s best to consult a doctor or nutritionist, especially if you have health issues.

The proper intake of vitamins and minerals will help improve your life in more ways than one. Plus, your health is directly related to your life insurance rates. The healthier you are, the lower your premiums.

At Quotacy, we understand the importance of your life and what it means for your family. This is why life insurance is so essential. Securing their future with a term policy allows you to provide for them if the unexpected were to happen.

Ready to see what you’d pay for life insurance? Start with a free quote today.

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About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Greg Lewerer

Director of Creative Strategy

Greg is Quotacy’s Director of Creative Strategy. He has an eclectic past from working on movie scripts to creating ad campaigns for major brands. His love of creative solutions drove him to strategy, and he now uses his powers to help families protect their loved ones. Outside of work, Greg spends his time off the grid hunting, fishing, camping, biking, hiking, and walking his dogs.