vitamins and minerals

Scientist names the key vitamins and minerals

vitamins and minerals

Scientist names the key vitamins and minerals

A scientist has named the 36 ‘longevity’ nutrients – found in everything from red meat to noodles – that could ‘add a few years to everyone’s lives’.

Consuming plenty of the three dozen vitamins and minerals prevents disease and the risk of an early death, Dr Bruce Ames claims.

However, Dr Ames, of the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute claim that most people are deficient in many of the nutrients.

Below, MailOnline names the 36 nutrients, from vitamin K to selenium, and reveals how they benefit your health and the foods richest in them.

Dr Ames, who led the study, said: ‘Diet is very important for our long-term health.

‘This just reinforces that you should try to do what your mother told you: Eat your veggies, eat your fruit, give up sugary soft drinks and empty carbohydrates.

‘The low hanging fruit in prolonging healthy ageing lies in optimising vitamin and mineral intake.’

He published the list of nutrients in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Ames said around 70 per cent of people in the US are deficient in vitamin D and as many as 60 per cent lack vitamin E.

This is despite vitamin D being essential for bone, heart and brain health, and vitamin E protecting against skin and eye damage.

Dr Ames made the conclusion by evaluating research conducted by himself and his colleagues, as well as other scientists from around the world.

This is based on the theory that when a person lacks certain vitamins and minerals, their body uses the nutrients it does have to ensure their survival.

This is rather than investing the nutrients into helping them live longer or preventing disease.

For example, a vitamin K deficiency may cause a person’s to use the vitamin K it has to ensure blood properly clots, rather than investing it into heart health.

While deficiency in ‘longevity vitamins’ may not put someone at immediate risk of death, it can cause gradual damage that only becomes obvious in later life.

Ensuring lifelong health is increasingly important due to people all over the world living longer, Dr Ames said.

‘[The current review] may be a theoretical paper, but I hope it can add a few years to everyone’s lives,’ he added.

Although factors aside from diet can cause disease, such as infections and genetics, eating well strengthens the immune system so it can then better fight pathogens off.

Previous research suggests more than 50 genetic diseases are preventable by taking high-dose supplements.

And while some of the damage caused by nutrient deficiencies can be reversed once vitamins and minerals are taken in sufficient amounts, DNA damage can be permanent.

‘The prevention of the degenerative diseases of ageing is a different science than curing disease,’ Dr Ames said.

‘It will involve expertise in metabolism, nutrition, biochemistry, and genetic regulatory elements and polymorphisms.

‘This approach is critical for lowering medical costs.’

The EU could save €4billion (£3.5bn) from osteoporosis alone if people took vitamin D and calcium supplements, according to Dr Ames.


Vitamin A

Protects against: Blindness, certain cancers, acne and osteoporosis

Found in: Liver, fish oils, milk, eggs, and orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Protects against: Nerve, muscle and heart damage

Found in: Beef, liver, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds and peas

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Protects against: Cataracts, heart disease and migraines

Found in: Red meat, almonds, dairy, eggs, fish and green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach

Vitamin B6

Protects against: Heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s

Found in: Pork, poultry, fish, bread, eggs and vegetables

Vitamin B12

Protects against: Anaemia 

Found in: Animals products, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy; as well as fortified cereals 


Protects against: Multiple sclerosis

Found in: Egg yolks, almonds, cauliflower, cheese, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and spinach

Vitamin C

Protects against: Heart disease, osteoporosis, anameia and scurvy

Found in: All fruit and vegetables, particularly broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower


Protects against: Liver, brain, muscle and nervous system damage

Found in: Liver, salmon, chickpeas, eggs and turkey

Vitamin E

Protects against: Skin, heart and eye damage

Found in: Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables

Folic acid (B9)

Protects against: Spina bifida in newborns when taken in early pregnancy, certain cancers and anaemia

Found in: Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified breads and cereals

Niacin (B3)

Protects against: Heart disease, brain damage and arthritis

Found in: Liver, chicken, tuna, turkey, salmon, anchovies, pork and beef

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenate)

Protects against: ADHD, arthritis, allergies, hair loss, asthma and colitis

Found in: Mushrooms, fish, avocados, eggs, chicken, beef, pork and sunflower seeds


Protects against: Bone damage, certain cancers and diabetes

Found in: Dairy, green leafy vegetables, soya beans, tofu, fish where you eat the bones; such as sardines, and fortified products; like bread and soya drinks


Protects against: Dangerous blood pressure levels and poor nerve signalling

Found in: Salt, seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and olives


Protects against: Diabetes

Found in: Vegetables, whole grains, beef, poultry and dairy


Protects against: Nerve damage

Found in: Fish, nuts, cereals and green leafy vegetables


Protects against: Nerve cell damage

Found in: Shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, kidneys and liver


Protects against: Bone damage and immune dysfunction

Found in: Seaweed, cod, dairy, shrimp, tuna, eggs and prunes


Protects against: Low levels of oxygen in the body

Found in: Red meat, shellfish, spinach, liver, lentils, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and turkey  


Protects against: Oesophageal cancer, liver disease, yeast infections and allergies

Found in: Peas, lentils, kidney beans, nuts, soy, dairy, eggs and whole grains


Protects against: Arthritis, osteoporosis and cognitive decline

Found in: Milk, meat, beans, lentils and nuts


Protects against: Stroke, osteoporosis and kidney stones

Found in: Squash, sweet potato, yoghurt and halibut


Protects against: Muscle and nerve damage

Found in: Salt, and smoked and cured meats


Protects against: Bacterial infections and acne

Found in: Seafood, eggs, liver, kidneys, nuts and dairy


Protects against: Bleeding, immune dysfunction and thyroid problems

Found in: Seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds

Vitamin K

Protects against: Heart disease, osteoporosis and cognitive decline

Found in: Parsley, spinach, grapes and eggs


Protects against: Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke and certain cancers

Found in: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, chicken, eggs and sardines

Vitamin D 

Protects against: Rickets (known as osteomalacia in adults), certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline

Found in: Sunlight and oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel

Omega-3 fatty acids

Protect against: Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, bipolar and depression

Found in: Oily fish


Protects against: Cancer, particularly lung; heart disease and stroke

Found in: Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds


Protects against: Cognitive decline

Found in: Liver, peanuts, red meat, poultry, fish, pasta, noodles and rice


Protects against: Heart disease, cognitive decline, diabetes and mitochondrial diseases, which can cause brain damage.

Mitochondria are the ‘energy powerhouses’ of cells

Found in: Fish and other seafood, seaweed, eggs and the dark meat of poultry


Protects against: Heart disease, and brain and eye damage

Found in: Mushrooms, meat, poultry and red kidney beans

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone 

Protects against: Diabetes, cognitive decline and general inflammation

Found in: Fruit and vegetables


Protects against: Multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, ADHD, autism and bipolar

Found in: Tomatoes, wheat, coconut water and dairy


Carotenoids are antioxidants produced by plants. The following make up 95 per cent of those in the human body:

  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Lycopene
  • Alpha and beta carotene
  • Beta cryptoxanthin

Protect against: Blindness, cognitive decline, heart disease, various cancers, high blood pressure, hearing loss, inflammation and immune system damage

Found in: Fruit and vegetables

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.