Handout Sneak Peek: Vitamin and Mineral Chart

You know what has been flying off the shelves lately?

The Vitamin and Mineral Chart. This poster highlights particular foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Since most consumers need to eat a more plant-based diet in order to avoid excess saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars while somehow managing to get enough nutrients in the calories allotted, it’s wise to have a few materials that could make that transition easier. This chart has been an eye-catching tool for inspiring and maintaining motivation, along with teaching key nutrient lessons.

As a special bonus, I want to share the printable educational handout that comes with the poster. Normally you could only access this if you had already bought the poster, but today I’m going to make an exception. The Eat Your Nutrients handout features macronutrients and micronutrients alike, highlighting the health benefits of these vital food elements.


Vitamin A: Prevents eye problems. Necessary for normal vision, immune function, and reproduction.

B-Vitamins: This group includes B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Niacin, B-5 Pantothenic Acid, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-7 Biotin, B-9 Folic Acid, and B-12 Choline. Necessary to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Activates B-6 and folate, which is essential for red blood cell growth and maturity.

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects against cell damage; boosts immune systems; forms collagen in the body.

Vitamin D: Aids absorption and usage of calcium and phosphorous ; necessary for growth and calcification of bones and teeth. The best source is the sun.

Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that protects cells against damage.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting and bone health.

Calcium: Essential in bone and teeth formation, muscle contraction, absorption of B-12, blood clotting, and growth.

Copper: Necessary for absorption, storage, and metabolism of iron; key to formation of red blood cells.

Iodine: Regulates rate of energy production and body weight. Promotes growth and health of hair, nails, skin, and teeth.

Iron: Hemoglobin and myoglobin formation, oxygen and CO2 transfer, red blood cell formation, and energy release.

Magnesium: Helps heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, and bone strength.

Phosphorous: Helps cells to function normally. Helps your body produce energy. Key for bone growth.

Potassium: Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones.

Selenium: An essential trace element; protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone.

Sodium: Primarily controls the body’s osmotic pressure, hydration, and electrical activities.

Zinc: Supports the body’s immune and nerve function; important in reproduction.

Protein: A necessary major nutrient in the diet, providing amino acids, which are necessary for growth and development.

Carbohydrate: Provides basic source of energy; stored as glycogen in all tissues of the body, especially the liver and muscles.

Fat: Also known as adipose tissue. Serves as an energy reserve.

Fiber: Aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.

And here’s a free printable copy of the handout!

Whats In Your Food Handout

Looking for more nutrition education materials? Here are some of the newest resources to hit the store!

Digital MyPlate Poster and MyPlate Food Photo Collection

Sodium Math Handout

Floor Sticker: Make Your Salad a Rainbow

Pumpkin all around us

IMGP1508It’s undeniably fall.  No, it’s not the shorter days, turning leaves or cooler nights that let me know. It’s pumpkin.  It seems that pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING have popped out of everywhere.  It was hardly past Labor Day when I started seeing promotions for pumpkin coffee, pumpkin donuts, cookies and cakes, pumpkin coffee creamer and even pumpkin yogurt.

I don’t have anything against pumpkin.  Actually I rather like this iconic fall flavor. But this is ridiculous. It doesn’t take an expert to figure out that most of these items don’t really have pumpkin in them.

I have a friend who owned a bulk food store. She had a pumpkin pudding and  pie filling mix that everyone loved.  At closer look we found that the mix did not contain any pumpkin at all…just the sweet spices of nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cinnamon that are frequently used with pumpkin…it gave the “hint” of pumpkin pie to the pudding.  If you really wanted to make a pie  they suggested adding mashed pumpkin to the pudding .  Isn’t it amazing what our taste buds and the sense of smell can make you believe?

But, not all of the pumpkin foods are “smoke and mirrors”…or should I say “spice and herbs”? I did find some yogurt with real pumpkin added as the second ingredient and pancakes that had pumpkin in them, too. Good for them!   IMGP1637

In addition to the flavor, adding real pumpkin to foods could be a super nutrition boost. Pumpkin has Vitamin A and lots of it.  The Produce for Better Health Foundation says that just 3/4 cup of cooked pumpkin contains 130% of your daily value for Vitamin A and only 25 calories.  

You can add this classic fall flavor to your own beverages, baked goods and menu with “real” mashed pumpkin.  If you want to be “authentic” select a from your farm market or grocery.  Be sure it’s a pie pumpkin, not one grown for Jack-O-Lanterns, they are usually smaller,  meatier and less stringy.  IMGP1632

Pumpkin can be simply prepared by placing slices on a cookie sheet and roasting  in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized (varies with thickness of slices). Remember to wash the outside rind before cutting and to save the seeds for roasting. 

You can sprinkle the pumpkin with spices before baking or just let the pumpkin flavor come out.  The cooked pumpkin could be eaten as a vegetable or mashed to be added in other recipes.IMGP1669

Just want some quick mashed pumpkin?  They can also be prepared in the microwave (see the recipe for spaghetti squash.

Canned mashed pumpkin is easy and works well in recipes, too, when real pumpkins are not available.  If you’re wanting to preserve pumpkin, the National Center for Home Food Preservation cautions against canning mashed pumpkin .  They recommend canning cubed pumpkin or freezing the mashed pumpkin.

Create your own fall pumpkin specialties. Here are a few recipes ideas from the Food and Health Communications files to get you started.

 April Fool Chili http://foodandhealth.com/recipes.php?id=105

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal http://foodandhealth.com/recipes.php?id=135

Pumpkin Apple Butter http://foodandhealth.com/recipes.php?id=276

Easy Pumpkin Pudding http://foodandhealth.com/recipes.php?id=131

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University