A healthy, balanced diet is good for more than keeping off weight; vitamins and minerals make your skin beautifully supple, strengthen your fingernails, teeth, and gums and keep your hair shiny and silky.
- A good supply of vitamin A is the basis for healthy skin and a fresh face. Vitamin A keeps skin smooth and young by stimulating cell regeneration. You can get it in the form of retinol (liver, whole eggs, milk and some fortified food products) or from the beta-carotene contained in many fruits and vegetables (carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and spinach). You can make it easier for your body to absorb beta-carotene by boiling or steaming foods containing the substance and adding a little butter or other fat.
- B vitamins are key for the growth of skin, hair and nails. Vitamin B6, in particular, helps form collagen for firm connective tissue. Biotin, which is often referred to as vitamin B7, is another of the B-group vitamins that protects skin and hair cells.
- Vitamin C accelerates collagen production in your cells and helps keep gums healthy. Since vitamin C is quickly destroyed by heat, foods high in vitamin C are best eaten raw.
- Iron facilitates oxygen transport in your blood. Pale, brittle fingernails and hair loss can be signs of an iron deficiency — one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.
- Potassium stimulates your kidneys and digestive system, ensuring the elimination of harmful substances, and plays an important role in keeping your skin supple.
- Calcium (contained in milk products) makes teeth strong and healthy.
- Magnesium keeps cell walls stable, preventing skin from wrinkling.
- Selenium, found in whole grain products, can repair skin damage.
- Zinc aids vitamin A in its duties and promotes the healing of wounds as well as a strong immune system.
Sources of vitamins and minerals
- Beta-carotene: orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, dark leafy vegetables
- Biotin: eggs, legumes, organ meat
- B vitamins: grains, soybeans, nuts, legumes
- Iron: meat, wholegrain products
- Potassium: dried fruits, legumes, nuts, soy products, vegetables, mushrooms, avocados, bananas
- Calcium: milk and milk products
- Magnesium: wholegrain products, legumes, mineral water
- Selenium: brewer’s yeast, wholegrain products, seafood, mushrooms, brown rice
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, kiwi, rose hips, blackberries, bell peppers, papaya, broccoli
- Vitamin E: cold-pressed oils, nuts, cereal germ
- Zinc: legumes, cereals, nuts, poultry, seafoodNote: Vitamins are classified according to how they are absorbed and stored in the body. Vitamins A, D, E and K are soluble only in fats, whereas vitamin C and the B vitamins are soluble only in water. Your best source of vitamins and minerals is food, but a multivitamin can offer insurance against gaps in your diet.