Garden for Essential Vitamins and Minerals
The following listing contains
major plant sources of important garden essential vitamins and minerals. The
information is approximate: It's impossible to assign an
exact nutrient value to a crop, since growing and eating
conditions vary widely. Not all the scientific test results
agree, either. Nor does everyone agree that the
government's RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of each
vitamin and mineral is appropriate. The lists below are
generally in descending order — the higher a food is in a
list, the more of that nutrient it contains. Where I found
specific values for certain crops, I added them in
parentheses (figures refer to one cup of the food unless
otherwise noted.) The abbreviations IU, mgs, and DGLVs
stand for international units, milligrams and dark green
leafy vegetables, respectively.
Vitamin A, or carotene: Good for
the skin; mucous membranes in mouth, urinary tract, and
respiratory and digestive systems; and night vision. RDA:
Primary Sources: Carrots (one raw carrot= 7,930
IU; the Juwarot variety has the highest vitamin A content),
sweet potatoes, most DGLVs (spinach = 14,850 IU),
lamb's-quarters, dandelions, violet leaves, parsley, garden
cress, butternut and hubbard squashes, pumpkins and
Vitamin B, or
thiamine: Instrumental in the body's
oxidation of carbohydrates and promotes health of nervous
system, digestion and appetite. RDA: 1.2 to 1.5 mg.
Primary Sources: Sunflower seeds (2.84 mg),
millet, turnip greens, dried peas and beans (pintos = 1.6
mg, others average 1.1 mg), sesame seeds, soybeans.
Vitamin B2, or
riboflavin: Essential for eyesight; promotes
metabolism of lipids and tryptophan. RDA: 1.2 to 1. 7 mg.
Primary Sources: Sunflower seeds (3.3 mg), kidney
bean sprouts, mushrooms, millet, DGLVs (collards =.38 mg,
broccoli = .31 mg), dried beans and peas, amaranth and
Vitamin B3, or
niacin: Promotes health of skin tissue and
nervous system and aids energy conversion. RDA: 14 to 19
Primary Sources: Peanuts (10 large peanuts = 3.1
mg), sunflower seeds, ginkgo nuts, wild rice, brown rice,
broccoli, dried beans (navy beans = 5.8 mg), peas (3.7 mg),
collards, mushrooms, whole wheat, barley and oats.
Vitamin B6 or
pyridoxine: Helps in hemoglobin synthesis
and in warding off anemia and dermatitis (including acne);
may help prevent tooth decay and cancer. RDA: 1.8 to 2 mg.
Dried beans (notably lentils and garbanzos), orange juice,
brown rice, soybeans, bananas, kale, spinach, black-eyed
peas, pigeon peas, potatoes (with skins), sunflower seeds,
peanuts, parsley and whole grains.
Vitamin C: Prevents scurvy,
reputed to help prevent colds and increase overall disease
resistance (most animals synthesize their own supply). RDA:
50 to 60 mg.
Primary Sources: Violet leaves, rape, alfalfa,
rose hips, hot chili peppers, broccoli, kale, turnip
greens, cauliflower, parsley, brussels sprouts, watercress,
honeydew melon, currants, blueberries.
Vitamin E, or
tocopherol: Reputed to help antibody
production, heal burns and improve sexual function. RDA: 8
to 10 IU.
Primary Sources: Roasted peanuts, lima beans,
sesame seeds, cabbage, asparagus, DGLVs, whole-grain rice
and wheat, oats, sunflower seeds and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin K: Vital for blood clotting (and
damaged by antibiotics). RDA: 50 to 140 micrograms.
Primary Sources: Spinach, cabbage, soybeans,
cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots and peas.
Folic Acid: Vital to
blood-forming process, cell replacement and for fetal
growth (it's estimated one in three pregnant women is
deficient in folic acid). RDA: 400 micrograms.
Primary Sources: Soybeans, sunflower
seeds, wheat germ and bran, pinto beans, watercress,
garbanzos, spinach (0.5 lb = 463 micrograms), brussel
sprouts, Romaine lettuce (1 cup chopped = 102 micrograms),
mung beans, white beans (0.5 cup = 132 micrograms), kidney
beans, lima beans, peanuts, pigeon peas, black-eyed peas,
potatoes and orange juice.
Panthothenic Acid: Helps the
immune system, promotes antibody production, relieves
intestinal bloating, and alleviates physical and emotional
stress. RDA: 47 mg.
Sunflower seeds, fava beans, peanuts (3.5 ounces = 2.8 mg),
soybeans, oats, pigeon peas, lentils, broccoli (one stalk
raw broccoli = 1.8 mg), brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes,
green peas, filberts, cashews and ginkgo nuts.
Calcium: Essential to muscles and
the transmission of nervous impulses; vital part of bones
and teeth. RDA: 800 to 1200 mg.
Primary Sources: Broccoli, dandelions, soybeans,
rutabagas, sesame seeds, many seaweeds, sunflower seeds,
bok choy (250 mg), fava beans, collards, kale (200 mg),
mustard greens and okra (150 mg). Calcium levels are also
high in spinach, chard, sorrel, beet greens, lamb's
quarters, parsley, rhubarb and wheat bran, but calcium is
poorly utilized in these foods because of their high oxalic
Phosphorus: Also a vital part of
bones and teeth. Phosphorus and calcium are the two major
minerals in the body and work best when supplied in
relatively even amounts (along with vitamin D). RDA: 800 to
Primary Sources: Pumpkin and squash seed,
sunflower seeds, millet, dried beans, lima beans, peas,
corn, soybeans, wheat germ and bran, and DGLVs.
Iron: Vital to blood's proper
functioning, as it's required for the exchange of oxygen in
the metabolic process. RDA: 10 to 18 mg.
Primary Sources: Parsley, pumpkin and squash
seeds, dried beans, millet, sesame, amaranth, pigeon peas,
sunflower seeds, sorghum syrup, dark rye, wild rice,
sunchokes and prune juice.