By Genevieve Bohnak, The University of Akron Intern
Vitamins are perhaps, a nutritional ingredient that many Americans don’t get the daily recommended value. This often results in many American’s purchasing over-the-counter supplements to reach that daily requirement. However there is an alternative solution that will ensure American’s have diets rich in vitamins without having to pay for the high cost of supplements. The solution is simple – creating your own vitamin garden!
Vegetables and herbs are packed with vitamins and are easy to grow. Studies have shown that gardeners tend to eat more fruit and vegetables than non-gardeners. Creating a vitamin garden in your own backyard will allow you to get all the recommend vitamins from the foods you eat. Not to mention that it will not only taste better but will be more convenient and reduce carbon foot printing. Nothing tastes better than the flavor of fresh home grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Besides meeting the vitamin requirement, gardening also provides health benefits as you engage in gentle exercise and of course receive fresh air and sunshine.
Don’t have a garden? No problem! Starting a garden is quite an easy task. With just an hour a day you can start your own backyard garden or if space is limited you can even grow plants in pots. Start with transplants instead of seeds (will save you time, effort, and provide an earlier harvest) then choose a sunny spot with good drainage. Make sure soil is in shape to receive plants by testing the soil using a kit and amending when necessary. Feed your plants and water regularly!
- Basil – Low in calories and cholesterol free, basil is a rich source of many essentials nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. It contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and Vitamin A.
- Oregano – High in antioxidants, this herb has both antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Rosemary – Another antioxidant herb, this herb is used to fight inflammation. It’s a good source of vitamin A, thiamin, and magnesium.
- Spinach – Spinach contain more than half of the recommended daily value of vitamin A and is high in vitamins C, K, E, folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Naturally low in calories, spinach grows well in spring, summer, and fall producing high yields of large and nutrient-rich leaves.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes deliver high dose of vitamin C, A, K, and B6, along with minerals such as potassium and lycopene. With its versatile, these vegetables are a great ingredient in a variety of culinary styles or equally tasteful on their own.
- Peppers – Another versatile vegetable, peppers deliver fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, copper, and vitamins A, C, K, and B6. Peppers are easy to grown and often deliver high yields and produce early in the season.
- Squash – Popular and prolific varieties like zucchini and yellow squash require minimal care to produce hefty harvests. Green zucchini deliver vitamins C, K, and B6 as well as folate, manganese, and potassium. Yellow squash is high in vitamin C, are easy to grow and mature early.
The most important vitamin that you can gain from every single vegetable and herb from your garden is the one and only vitamin D. The true sunshine vitamin is a nutritional benefit of vegetables, herbs, and gardening. While you’re outside working the garden, your body is turning the sunlight into much needed vitamin D.