Folic acid, zinc, copper and niacin are all essential nutrients that support various functions that keep your body working efficiently. If you eat a well-balanced diet filled with a variety of foods, you're probably getting all the folic acid, zinc, copper and niacin you need for good health. It's helpful to know the best sources of each nutrient, however, so you can build a healthy diet. Knowing what foods contain all four nutrients is useful, as well, because you'll get more nutritional bang for your buck in terms of these specific vitamins and minerals.
Folic acid and folate are forms of vitamin B that help your body turn food into energy and promote normal DNA production. Folate occurs naturally in food, while folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin found in vitamin supplements and fortified foods. Folic acid is essential during pregnancy, as it actually reduces the risk of certain birth defects. Adults need 400 micrograms of folic acid or folate each day. Beef liver is among the top sources of folate with 215 micrograms per 3-ounce serving. Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens, are also good sources of the nutrient. Black-eyed peas, beans, nuts, citrus fruits and fortified breakfast cereals, which can contain up to one-third of the recommended daily value, are additional sources of folate or folic acid.
As an essential mineral, zinc plays a role in wound healing, immune system support, DNA production and cell division. Adult women need to include 8 milligrams of zinc in their daily diet and men should aim to consume 11 milligrams each day. Meats, such as beef roast, pork chops and chicken, are among the top sources of zinc, each supplying between 2 and 7 milligrams per 3-ounce serving. Oysters are a top source with 74 milligrams per 3-ounce serving, which is much more than men or women need for the entire day. Other types of seafood, such as lobster, crab and flounder, are additional sources of zinc, as are yogurt, cheese, cashews and kidney beans.
Copper is a lesser-known nutrient, partly because you only need small amounts of it to support good health. It aids in normal connective tissue formation, promotes energy production and helps you use iron properly. Copper is also necessary to keep your central nervous system, which includes your spinal cord and brain, healthy and working normally. Healthy adults should include 900 micrograms of copper in their daily diets. One of the best sources of copper is beef liver, which supplies significantly more than your daily requirement with 4,049 micrograms per ounce. Seafood, including oysters and clams, are also good sources of copper. Plant sources of copper include nuts, seeds, mushrooms and chocolate.
Niacin is a B vitamin that helps your body turn food into energy and also aids in DNA repair and cell function. Men should aim to consume 16 milligrams of niacin each day. while women should get 14 milligrams on a daily basis. Meat is a good source of niacin with a 3-ounce serving of meats, such as chicken or turkey, supplying half to three-quarters of your daily requirement. Tuna, salmon, bread, lima beans and coffee are also good sources of niacin.
Foods with All Four Nutrients
Add cooked lentils to pasta sauce or stew to get folate, zinc, copper and niacin in one nutritious and low-fat meal. Nuts and seeds are additional foods that supply small amounts of each of the four nutrients. Eat a handful of walnuts, pistachios or sunflower seeds for a snack or add them to homemade baked goods to increase the nutrition slightly. Most fruits and vegetables add at least a trace amount of each nutrient, as well, so aim to eat at least five servings of produce each day.