Vitamins and minerals are integral to good health. In fact, the American Dietetic Association says that proper vitamin and mineral intake is necessary for a strong immune system, which prevents illness and reduces your risk of chronic disease. While many people turn to a daily multivitamin for nutrition insurance, MayoClinic.com says that it's healthiest to obtain your needed vitamins and minerals from foods. If that seems overwhelming, don't worry. Many familiar foods are nutrient-rich and can help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, advises Harvard Medical School. By consuming at least 2 cups of brightly colored fresh fruit and vegetables and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, you'll obtain a host of necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants necessary for good health. Add berries to your breakfast cereal, a large salad alongside your lunch sandwich, an extra serving of veggies at dinner and fresh fruit for snacks or dessert.
Switch from refined grains to whole grains. Whole grains, like brown rice and oatmeal, contain more vitamins and minerals than processed grains like white rice and white bread. Now that many grain products are available in whole-grain versions, making the switch is simple. Choose raisin bran or oatmeal over corn flakes cereal, whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, brown instead of white rice and whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Other good choices include bulgur, barley, popcorn, whole-grain tortillas, quinoa and whole-grain crackers.
Include low-fat dairy products in your daily diet. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, a necessary nutrient that is difficult to get through diet alone. Cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream also provide much-needed calcium and B vitamins.
Consume animal products like meat and eggs for the key nutrient vitamin B12, which is mainly available naturally in animal-based foods. If you are vegetarian or vegan, include B12-fortified breakfast cereals in your diet instead.
Try beans, legumes and nuts for protein in addition to meat, fish and poultry. Plant-based sources of protein provide vitamins and minerals that animal proteins may not. Try lentil soup, split pea soup, black bean or refried bean burritos and tacos, vegetarian chili made with kidney and pinto beans and chopped nuts in salads, yogurt, oatmeal and muffins. These foods can help round out your vitamin and mineral intake through a healthy diet.
Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for more information about your personal vitamin and mineral needs. If you have any concerns about a vitamin deficiency, speak with your physician about necessary treatment.