In order to function properly, our bodies need a certain amount of vitamins and minerals — most of which come from the foods and beverages we consume. When we are deficient in any one of these vitamins, it not only compromises our bodies’ vital functions, but it can cause a severe decrease in our energy levels as well. If you’ve been feeling fatigued lately, deficiencies in the following vitamins may be the culprit. Make sure you’re meeting the recommended daily allowances by eating a variety of foods or taking a supplement.
Vitamin C isn’t just for fighting off colds. The body needs the vitamin to grow and repair tissues in the body such as skin, scar tissue, tendons and ligaments.
Because Vitamin C is water soluble, your body isn’t able to store excess quantities and you must consume the vitamin regularly through a proper diet. Vitamin C is found in cantaloupe, citrus fruits, mango, kiwi, pineapple, watermelon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
Adult men should aim for 90 milligrams of Vitamin C per day. The recommended daily allowance for women is 75 milligrams per day. With approximately 60 milligrams in a medium orange and 115 milligrams in half a guava fruit, this amount is easily achievable through diet alone.
Magnesium is essential for many of the body’s vital functions, including the contraction and relaxation of muscles, the production of proteins and the transport of energy. Daily allowances vary by country, but are set in the United States at 270 to 400 milligrams per day for adolescent and adult males and 280 to 300 milligrams per day for adolescent and adult females. In Canada, those amounts are 130 to 250 and 135 to 210, respectively.
To ensure you’re getting plenty of magnesium in your diet, make sure you’re eating plenty of green leafy vegetables. Other great sources of magnesium include dried apricots, avocados, bananas, almonds, legumes, seeds, tofu and whole grains. Just one cup of cooked spinach has 180 milligrams of magnesium. An ounce of pumpkin seeds has 151 milligrams.
In order to have a healthy heart, you need to ingest plenty of potassium. That’s because potassium plays a vital role in heart health, as well as in the proper functioning of the kidneys, nerves, muscles and digestive system. In order to maintain these important bodily systems, your body needs about 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day from foods such as green leafy vegetables, grapes, blackberries, carrots, potatoes and citrus fruits. You’ll get 840 milligrams of potassium in one cup of cooked spinach, 800 milligrams in a medium baked potato and 290 milligrams in a medium tomato.
Vitamin D is critical because it facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the bones and teeth. It also helps keep our immune systems functioning properly. But although it can be obtained directly from the sun, many people aren’t getting the recommended 600 IU per day of Vitamin D. In fact, unless you live in a sunny warm climate and spend time outdoors each day (sans sunscreen) with the majority of your skin exposed, you probably aren’t getting the necessary amount of Vitamin D from sunlight. And if you live in the northern regions, where the winter months bring longer periods of darkness, you aren’t getting any Vitamin D from sunlight for at least four months of the year. The reason for this, is because the sun doesn’t get high enough in the sky to produce the strength necessary for Vitamin D production.
Vitamin D is not readily available in plant-based foods, so in order to ensure you’re getting the necessary amounts, you must consume fortified foods or take a supplement. If you are older or have a darker skin tone, you should also take a supplement, as you are less able to produce Vitamin D naturally from the sun compared to young, fair-skinned individuals.
The eight varieties of B Vitamins include Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B6, B7, B12 and Folic Acid. Together, they work to help support our bodies’ ability to create energy from the food we eat and enable our bodies to form red blood cells.
If you follow a plant-based diet, you’ll have an easy time getting almost all of the B Vitamins you need. That is, except B12, which is found almost exclusively in animal products. Because B12 is so important, it is advised that vegetarians and vegans take a supplement to get the B12 they need. Other B Vitamins are easily digested from green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, beans, peas, seeds, nuts and dried herbs.