HJ: While synthetic multivitamins have a role in health, knowing how to get all of your vitamins and minerals from foods and medicinal herbs is essential as this is the form to which your body responds best. The truth is that despite all we do know about nutritional science, the reality of how the body assimilates nutrients best is incredibly complex and at best partially understood. However, we do know that the body responds best to whole food nutrition as we are ‘designed’, in a sense, to thrive in symbiosis with the natural environment, and synthetic vitamins do not exist naturally. The nutrients in food are formed into whole food matrices with bioflavonoids, antioxidants and as of yet unidentified cofactors that are necessary for proper assimilation. The guide below will help you to understand which foods contain the essential nutrients you need for radiant health and wellbeing.
By Susun Weed | Susun Weed
Lists are arranged thusly: Most important sources, in decreasing order, are first.
Other excellent sources follow the semicolon.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is formed in the liver from ingested carotenes and carotenoids. No plants contain it. Liver, milk, and eggs do. In pill form, vitamin A can cause birth defects, hair loss, and liver stress.
Depleted by: Coffee, alcohol, cortisone, mineral oil, fluorescent lights, liver “cleansing," excessive intake of iron, lack of protein.
Vitamin B complex: For healthy digestion, good liver function, emotional flexibility, less anxiety, sound sleep, milder hot flashes with less sweating, steady heart beat.
Depleted by: Coffee, alcohol, tobacco, refined sugar, raw oysters, hormone replacement, birth control pills (deplete B6 especially).
Food Sources of B vitamins: Whole grains, well-cooked greens, organ meat (liver, kidneys, heart), sweet potatoes, carrots, molasses, nuts, bananas, avocados, grapes, pears; egg yolks, sardines, herring, salmon, crab, oysters, whey.
Herbal Sources of B vitamins: Red clover blossoms, parsley leaf, oatstraw. See also specific factors, following.
Vitamin B1, Thiamine: For emotional ease, strong nerves.
Food Sources of B1, Thiamine: Asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, barley grass, seaweeds, citrus fruits.
Herbal Sources of B1, Thiamine: Peppermint, burdock, sage, yellow dock, alfalfa, red clover, fenugreek seeds, raspberry leaves, nettle, catnip, watercress, yarrow leaf/flower, rose buds and hips.
Vitamin B2, Riboflavin: For more energy, healthy skin, less cancer.
Depleted by: Hot flashes, crying jags, antibiotics, tranquilizers.
Food Sources of B2, Riboflavin: Beans, greens, onions, seaweeds, yogurt, cheese, milk, mushrooms.
Herbal Sources of B2, Riboflavin: Peppermint, alfalfa greens, parsley, echinacea, yellow dock, hops; dandelion root, ginseng, dulse, kelp, fenugreek seed, rose hips, nettles.
Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine: For improved immune functioning; especially needed by women using hormone replacement.
Food Sources of B6: Baked potato with skin, broccoli, prunes, bananas, dried beans, lentils; meat, poultry, fish.
Vitamin B factor, Folic acid: For strong, flexible bones, easy nerves.
Food Sources of folic acid (folate): Leafy greens, liver, kidney, lentils, whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables.
Herbal Sources of Folic acid: Leaves: Nettles, alfalfa, parsley, sage, catnip, peppermint, plantain, comfrey, chickweed.
Vitamin B factor, Niacin: For relief of anxiety and depression, decrease in headaches, reduction of blood cholesterol levels.
Food Sources of Niacin: Asparagus, cabbage, bee pollen.
Herbal Sources of Niacin: Hops, raspberry leaf, red clover; slippery elm, echinacea, licorice, rose hips, nettle, alfalfa, parsley.
Vitamin B12: For healthy metabolism, stronger eyes, better memory, more energy, less cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, fibromylagia, and depression. Aids adsorption of all other minerals, especially calcium.
Depleted by: Unfermented soy, lack of animal foods in the diet.
Food Sources of B12: Liver, kidney, yogurt, cheese, milk, eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish.
Herbal Sources of B12: None.
Bioflavonoids: For healthy heart and blood vessels, fewer hot flashes and night sweats, less menstrual bleeding, unlumpy breasts, less water retention, less anxiety, less irritable nerves.
Food Sources of Bioflavonoids: Citrus pulp and rind.
Herbal Sources of Bioflavonoids: Buckwheat greens, elder berries, hawthorn fruits, rose hips, horsetail, shepherd’s purse, chervil.
Carotenes: For a well-lubricated vagina, strong bones, protection against cancer, healthy lungs and skin, strong vision, good digestion.
Food Sources of Carotenes: Well-cooked red, yellow, or green vegetables/fruits: carrots, winter squash, tomatoes, seaweeds, cantaloupe.
Herbal Sources of Carotenes: Peppermint, yellow dock, uva ursi, parsley, alfalfa, raspberry, nettles, dandelion greens; kelp, green onions, violet leaves, cayenne, paprika, lamb’s quarters leaves, sage, chickweed, horsetail, black cohosh roots, rose hips.
Vitamin C complex: For less intense hot flashes, less insomnia and night sweats, stronger bones, fewer headaches, better resistance to infection, smoother emotions, less heart disease, rapid wound healing. Critical to good adrenal functioning, especially during menopause.
Depleted by: Antibiotics, aspirin and other pain relievers, coffee, stress, aging, smoking, baking soda, high fever.
Food Sources of Vitamin C: Freshly picked foods, cooked potatoes.
Herbal Sources of Vitamin C: Rose hips, yellow dock root, raspberry leaf, red clover, hops; pine needles, dandelion greens, alfalfa greens, echinacea, skullcap, plantain, parsley, cayenne, paprika.
Vitamin D: For very strong, very flexible bones, hormonal ease,
cancer prevention, regulation of glucose metabolism, reduction of risk of adult onset diabetes.
Depleted by: Mineral oil used on the skin, frequent hot baths, sunscreen with SPF8 or higher.
Food Sources of Vitamin D: Sunlight, butter, egg yolk, cod liver oil; liver, shrimp, fatty fish (mackerel, sardines, herring, salmon, tuna).
Herbal Sources of Vitamin D: None. Vitamin D is not found in plants.
Vitamin E: for milder hot flashes, fewer night sweats, protection from cancer, fewer signs of aging, fewer wrinkles, moist vagina, strong heart, freedom from arthritis.
Depleted by: Mineral oil, sulfates, hormone replacement.
Food Sources of Vitamin E: Freshly ground whole-grain flours, cold-pressed oils; fresh nuts, peanut butter, leafy greens, cabbage, asparagus.
Herbal Sources of Vitamin E: Alfalfa, rosehips, nettles, dong quai, watercress, dandelion, seaweeds, wild seeds (lamb’s quarters, plantain).
Essential fatty acids (EFAs), including GLA, omega-6 and omega-3. For a healthy heart, less severe hot flashes, strong nerves, strong bones, well-functioning endocrine glands, fewer wrinkles.
Food Sources of EFAs: Flax seeds, cod liver oil, wheat germ oil, whole grains; seeds such as borage, evening primrose, black currant, hemp, safflower, and their oils.
Herbal Sources of EFAs: All wild plants, but very few cultivated plants, contain EFAs; fresh purslane is notably high.
Folic Acid: See vitamin B factor, folic acid.
Vitamin K: For less menstrual flooding, stronger bones.
Depleted by: X-rays, radiation, air pollution, enemas, frozen foods, antibiotics, rancid fats, aspirin.
Food Sources of Vitamin K: Healthy intestinal bacteria produce vitamin K; green leafy vegetables, yogurt, egg yolk, blackstrap molasses.
Herbal Sources of Vitamin K: Nettle, alfalfa, kelp, green tea.
Boron: For strong, flexible bones.
Food Sources of Boron: Organic fruits, vegetables, nuts.
Herbal Sources of Boron: All organic garden weeds including all edible parts of chickweed, purslane, nettles, dandelion, yellow dock.
Calcium: For sound sleep, dense bones, calm heart, strong muscles, less irritable nerves, lower blood pressure, sound blood vessels, regular heart beat, freedom from depression and headaches, less bloating, fewer mood fluctuations.
Depleted by: Coffee, sugar, salt, alcohol, cortisone, enemas, unfermented soy products, antacids, too much phosphorus.
Food Sources of Calcium: Yogurt, raw-milk cheese, dark green leaves; nuts, seeds, tahini, seaweeds, vegetables (especially sweet potatoes, cabbage), dried beans, whole grains, whey, salmon, tuna, sardines, shellfish.
Herbal Sources of Calcium: Valerian, kelp, nettle, horsetail, peppermint; sage, uva ursi, yellow dock, chickweed, red clover, oatstraw, parsley, black currant leaf, raspberry leaf, plantain leaf/seed, dandelion leaf, amaranth leaf/seed, lamb’s quarter leaf/seed.
Chromium: For less fatigue and lots of energy, fewer mood swings, stable blood sugar levels, higher HDL; less risk of adult onset diabetes.
Depleted by: White sugar.
Food Sources of Chromium: Barley grass, prunes, nuts, mushrooms, liver, beets, whole wheat, bee pollen.
Herbal Sources of Chromium: Oatstraw, nettle, red clover tops, catnip, dulse, wild yam, yarrow, horsetail; roots of black cohosh, licorice, echinacea, valerian, sarsaparilla.
Copper: For supple skin, healthy hair, strong muscles, easy nerves, less water retention, less menstrual flooding, lower blood cholesterol.
Food Sources of Copper: Liver, kidney, seafood, organically grown grains, beans, nuts, leafy greens, seaweeds, bittersweet chocolate, mushrooms.
Herbal Sources of Copper: Skullcap, sage, horsetail; chickweed.
Iodine: For fewer breast lumps, less fatigue, healthier thyroid function, stronger liver.
Depleted by: Unfermented soy products.
Food Sources of Iodine: Seafood, seaweed, sea salt, spinach, beets, mushrooms.
Herbal Sources of Iodine: Kelp, parsley, celery, sarsaparilla root.
Iron: For fewer hot flashes, less menstrual flooding, fewer headaches, better sleep with fewer night sweats, easier nerves, more energy, less dizziness.
Depleted by: Coffee, black tea, alcohol, aspirin, carbonated drinks, lack of protein, enemas, unfermented soy, processed dairy.
Food Sources of Iron: Liver, red meat, canned salmon, sardines, egg yolk, leafy greens, molasses, dried fruit (cherries, raisins, prunes, dates, figs), yellow/orange/red vegetables, bittersweet chocolate; whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, mushrooms, potatoes, honey, seaweeds.
Herbal Sources of Iron: Chickweed, kelp, burdock root, catnip, horsetail, Althea root, milk thistle seed, uva ursi, dandelion leaf/root; yellow dock, dong quai, black cohosh, echinacea, licorice, valerian, and sarsaparilla roots, nettles, plantain leaf, fenugreek seed, peppermint.
Magnesium: For deeper sleep, less anxiety, easier nerves, flexible bones and arteries, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, stronger heart, more energy, less fatigue, fewer headaches/migraines.
Depleted by: Hot flashes, night sweats, crying jags, alcohol, chemical diuretics, enemas, antibiotics, “soft" water, excessive fat intake.
Food sources of Magnesium: Leafy greens, seaweeds, nuts, whole grains, yogurt, cheese; potatoes, corn, peas, squash, beans, figs.
Herbal Sources of Magnesium: Oatstraw, licorice, kelp, nettle, dulse, burdock root, chickweed, Althea root, horsetail; sage, raspberry leaf, red clover, valerian, yellow dock, dandelion greens, carrot tops, parsley leaf, evening primrose.
Manganese: for keen hearing, flexible bones, reduction of dizziness, prevention of diabetes.
Depleted by: Chemical fertilizers used agriculturally.
Food Sources of Manganese: Any leaves or seeds from plants grown on healthy soil; seaweeds.
Herbal Sources of Manganese: Raspberry, uva ursi leaf, chickweed, milk thistle seed, yellow dock; ginseng, wild yam, echinacea, and dandelion roots, nettle, catnip, kelp, horsetail, hops flowers.
Molybdenum: for fewer hot flashes, prevention of anemia.
Food Sources of Molybdenum: Organically raised dairy products, legumes, grains, leafy greens, seaweeds.
Herbal Sources of Molybdenum: Nettles, dandelion greens, sage, oatstraw, fenugreek seeds, raspberry leaves, red clover blossoms, horsetail, chickweed, kelp.
Nickel: For milder hot flashes, easy nerves.
Food Sources of Nickel: Chocolate, nuts, dried beans, cereals.
Herbal Sources of Nickel: Alfalfa, red clover, oatstraw, fenugreek.
Phosphorus: For strong, flexible bones, more energy.
Depleted by: Antacids.
Food Sources of Phosphorus: Whole grains, seeds, nuts.
Herbal Sources of Phosphorus: Peppermint, yellow dock, milk thistle, fennel, hops, chickweed; nettle, dandelion, parsley, dulse, red clover.
Potassium: For more energy, less fatigue, less water retention, easy weight loss, steady heart beat, lower blood pressure, better digestion.
Depleted by: Frequent hot flashes, sweating, night sweats, coffee, sugar, salt, alcohol, enemas, vomiting, diarrhea, chemical diuretics, dieting.
Food Sources of Potassium: Celery, cabbage, peas, parsley, broccoli, bananas, carrots, potato skin, whole grains, pears, citrus, seaweed.
Herbal Sources of Potassium: Sage, catnip, peppermint, skullcap, hops, dulse, kelp, red clover; horsetail, nettles, plantain leaf.
Selenium: For clear vision, slower aging, strong immunity, less irrita-bility, more energy, healthy hair/nails/teeth, less cardiovascular disease.
Food sources of Selenium: Liver, raw milk cheeses, seaweeds, whole grains, garlic, kidneys, fish, shellfish, meat, yogurt, beans.
Herbal Sources of Selenium: Catnip, milk thistle seed, valerian root, dulse, black cohosh and ginseng roots; uva ursi leaf, hops flowers, kelp, raspberry leaf, rose buds and hips, hawthorn berries, fenugreek seed, roots of echinacea, sarsaparilla, and yellow dock.
Silicon: For strong, flexible bones, less irritable nerves.
Food Sources of Silicon: Unrefined grains, root vegetables, spinach, leeks.
Herbal Sources of Silicon/Silica: Horsetail, dulse, echinacea, cornsilk, burdock, oatstraw, licorice, chickweed; uva ursi, sarsaparilla.
Sulfur: For relaxed muscles, soft skin, healthy nerves, strong liver, glossy hair.
Food Sources of Sulfur: Eggs, dairy products, cabbage family plants, onions, garlic, parsley, watercress.
Herbal Sources of Sulfur: Sage, nettles, plantain, horsetail.
Zinc: For slower aging, better digestion, stronger bones, healthy skin, cancer prevention, increased sex drive.
Depleted by: Alcohol, air pollution, hormone replacement.
Food Sources of Zinc: Liver, meat, sardines, oysters, eggs, yogurt, leafy greens, beans, pumpkin seeds, nuts, whole grains.
Herbal Sources of Zinc: Skullcap, sage, wild yam, chickweed, echinacea, nettles, dulse, milk thistle; sarsaparilla.
Susun Weed has appeared on numerous national radio, television, and new-media venues, including National Public Radio, NBC News, CNN, and ABCNews.com. She has been quoted and interviewed in many major magazines, including Natural Health, Woman’s Day, First for Women, and Herbs for Health. She is a contributor to the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women’s Studies, and writes a regular column in Sagewoman and for Awakened Woman online. She is also the founder of The Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, New York and prolific author of women’s health books, is the voice of the Wise Woman tradition.