What vitamins are in nuts?
One of the joys of exploring new foods is discovering the nutritional benefits hidden in everyday products. It only takes a moment’s exploration to discover that olives, for example, are loaded with heart-healthy fats and vitamins, while apples are an excellent source of fibre and help maintain a healthy digestive system.
Finding hidden nutrients in everyday foods may seem like an obvious idea, but it’s actually a modern phenomenon. For most of human history, most people rarely or never saw foods like avocados or asparagus, let alone ate them on a daily basis.
But as our modern diet has become increasingly bland and nutrient-poor, people have begun to look for hidden micronutrients in all sorts of common foods.
What is a micronutrient?
A micronutrient is a nutrient that is needed in small amounts, usually 10 to 15 times less than the amount provided by a food in the standard diet. Micronutrients of particular interest to health-conscious people are vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins and minerals are found in very small quantities in plants and animals. The body needs vitamins and minerals to grow and function, but they do not ‘supply’ nutrients, so they are often called ‘trace elements’.
Examples of micronutrients are :
- Vitamin B-12, found in small amounts in vertebrates, is particularly important for pregnant women, vegetarians and people who do not eat fish.
- Vitamin D, essential for the absorption of calcium and other nutrients, is present in small amounts in some fish and animal products, but is not present in many plant foods.
- Iron, found in very small amounts in plant foods, is needed for the production of healthy blood and for growth.
- Zinc, present in very small amounts in plant and animal foods, is important for protein synthesis, cell function and immune function.
Why are nuts an important part of a healthy diet?
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals, the benefits of nuts are real! They are also a very effective way of meeting daily protein requirements, even for non-athletes. A healthy body needs a certain amount of protein to function properly. Athletes need more protein, as do people who want to build or maintain muscle mass.
The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but this is only an estimate based on a person’s gender, age and body type. The RDA can be misleading, as many other factors can affect a person’s protein requirements, such as genetics, health, exercise and diet. Also take a look at the harms of nuts, or rather the unpleasant effects that follow nut consumption.
What vitamins are found in nuts?
Nuts and seeds contain a wide range of vitamins, including vitamin B-12, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, folate and iron. Of the more than 20 vitamins found in foods, only a few are generally lacking in the Western diet. Vitamin B-12 is essential for the production of DNA and red blood cells.
Vitamin C, found in oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits, is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body’s cells and tissues. Vitamin E, found in avocados and other nuts, is an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce itself and must be obtained from the diet. Of course the vitamin intake will depend on how many nuts you eat per day!
Which nuts contain the most nutrients?
It is important to remember that vitamins and minerals are not the same thing. A vitamin is a nutrient that is needed in very small amounts, while a mineral is a natural substance found in the earth’s crust. While vitamins are present in some plant and animal foods, minerals are only present in trace amounts in most foods. Copper, for example, is present in very low concentrations in nuts and seeds. Other minerals, such as zinc, iron and selenium, are necessary for good health, but are also present in very small amounts in many foods.
Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and pistachios are among the nuts with the highest nutrient content.
Despite their reputation as “healthy” foods, nuts actually contain a relatively small amount of nutrients compared to fruits and vegetables. This is because nuts are high in calories and fat, and do not provide much protein or fibre. For healthy people, eating nuts from time to time can add some vitamins and minerals to the diet, but it is important to remember that they are not a substitute for a healthy diet.