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The 6 Essential Vitamins and Minerals in a Balanced Diet

The 6 Essential Vitamins and Minerals in a Balanced Diet

Laura Laura
4 minute read

Essential vitamins and minerals are nutrients the body can’t manufacture by itself. It is therefore recommended that your nutrient intake be taken from the food and beverages you eat or drink every day.

The bad news is that one in every three Americans eat junk food daily, according to the CDC. The good news is that as you age, that figure drops considerably. Seniors record the least amount of junk food consumed daily, but that still amounts to 1 in every 4 people!

Men reportedly consume more junk food as a main meal than women, whereas women will snack on junk food and prepare a healthy meal at home. As their income levels rose, so too did the amount of junk food consumed.

Back in the old days, a diet was something you tried once to loose some weight before prom and then forgot about. Nowadays, a diet is considered a healthy eating plan, as long as it follows the Healthy Eating Pyramid for your age, weight, and lifestyle – and delivers all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.

What Is The Healthy Eating Pyramid?

Most countries across the world have adopted a version of the healthy eating pyramid, which was previously known as the Food Pyramid (or similar). Developed in Sweden in 1972, the food pyramid concept was created to show everyday people how to eat a plate of nutritious food on a limited budget.

The specifics of those foods will differ from region to region and availability of stock when you order your ingredients. You will know best what foods in your region fall into what category.

Healthy Eating Pyramid

Copyright © 2008. For more information about The Healthy Eating Pyramid, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,, and and Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, by Walter C. Willett, M.D., and Patrick J. Skerrett (2005), Free Press/Simon & Schuster Inc.

What is the Healthy Eating Plate?

The Healthy Eating Pyramid relies on the Healthy Eating Plate, a similar concept designed to show proportional amounts of foods a typical plate should contain. The two designs complement each other when used together to determine a balanced diet that contains all of the essential vitamins and minerals you should be consuming on a daily basis.

Does Your Diet Give You The Essential Vitamins and Minerals You Need?

Certain lifestyles could be viewed as more healthy when compared to these two yardsticks, while others may seem a little unbalanced. Following a strictly limited-ingredient eating-habits lifestyle may mean that your protein intake is too low to sustain your body’s nutritional needs, for instance.

Similarly, the Paleo diet was designed to as closely resemble what (scientists think) our ancestors of long ago ate. Noted for their longevity and better health, our barbaric ancestors certainly consumed protein at an alarming rate!

If however, you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, a protein supplement may be just what you need to get you back on your feet. 

  • hair, skin, or nail problems, such as brittle nails, grey or thinning hair, and a pasty complexion
  • loss of muscle mass, strength, and size
  • you seem to be experiencing a few bone fractures or breaks, and bruises take forever to go away
  • you need more calories for a bigger-than-usual appetite
  • you seem to be picking up every single infection going around

What are the Essential Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs Daily?

The worst part about planning a healthy meal is just that: the planning. The healthy eating plans above can also be used as a shopping list to discover the foods your body uses to function at its best – and that includes essential vitamins and minerals.

Adapted from Harvard Health Publishing, (c) 2019

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