You may be following the food pyramid and still not be getting a proper amount of vitamins in your diet. There are some people who do not consume nearly as many vitamins as they should due to a poor diet. Vitamins play an essential role in the proper functioning of metabolic processes within the body. They are vital in the growth and recovery of cells and tissue. We are taught that Vitamin D is great for bones and Vitamin C helps our immune system but there are so many benefits to consuming vitamins. I will break down each vitamin’s function and where they can be found.
There are two types of vitamins, fat-soluble and water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are soluble in lipids which alllows them to be stored in the liver in large amounts. They include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.
Vitamin A (retinol) is vital for vision and immune system. A lack of retinol could result in night blindness. Sources: cod liver oil, egg yolks, fish, milk, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin D (calciferol) aids in the growth and development of teeth and bones. A lack may lead to soft bones and unhealthy teeth. Sources: cod liver oil, eggs, fish, butter, cream and milk.
Vitamin E (tocopherol) helps in the formation of red blood cells and acts as an antioxidant. Tocopherol minimizes cellular damage and is important in the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Sources: wheat germ oil, liver, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and coconuts.
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) aids the body in the formation of prothrombin. Essential for blood clotting processes within the body. Deficiencies can lead to hemorrhaging. Sources: leafy green vegetables, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, avocados, and kiwis.
Next we have Water-soluble vitamins B-complex and C. These vitamins have to be consumed on a daily basis because they cannot be stored in fat. B-complex is made of 8 vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, cobalamin, folate, and biotin. C (ascorbic acid)
B-1– thiamin aids the body in the metabolism of carbs by converting thiamin into a coenzyme. It also plays a role in appetite stimulation and can be found in carbohydrates. Sources: rice bran, pork, yeast, oatmeal, asparagus and potatoes
B-2-riboflavin is involved in the production of energy and cellular respiration. It also breaks down some amino acids. Sources: eggs, fish, poultry, yogurt, milk, nuts, and green veggies
B-3–niacin produces energy, protein metabolism and the synthesis of amino acids and hormones. Sources: liver, meats, whole grains, potatoes, nuts and legumes.
B-5–pantothenic acid has a vital role in the synthesis and metabolism of fatty acids, carbs and proteins. It is important in the Kreb’s cycle. Sources: liver, whole grain cereals, legumes, eggs and meat
B-6–pyridoxine aids in the breakdown of proteins and in the metabolism of amino acids and fats. Helps to balance sodium and potassium and assists in red blood cell production. Sources: whole grains, meats, liver, rice, soybeans, vegetables, bananas, and nuts.
B-7– biotin acts as an enzyme and is required in the process of synthesizing amino acids and fatty acids. It is essential during gluconeogenesis. It also helps to promote healthy nerve tissue and bone marrow, skin, hair and formation of new cells. Sources: liver, milk, egg yolk, nuts, legumes, brewer’s yeast and some veggies
B-9–folic acid or folate is required for metabolism and plays a vital role in the synthesis of DNA and RNA. It aids in the production of red blood cells, tissue growth and regeneration of muscle tissue. Sources: asparagus, spinach, collards, kale and broccoli, red meat, salmon and liver
B-12–cyanocobalamin is required for proper brain and nervous system function, cell growth and development, nerve development, synthesis of DNA, and energy production. It is referred to as the “Energy vitamin”.
Vitamin C–ascorbic acid functions as an enzyme and cofactor involved in protein formation. Important in maintaining healthy tissues and cells. It helps fight infection and promotes overall health as well as prevents the degeneration of cells and tissues. Sources: citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers and potatoes. Sources: liver, shellfish, milk, eggs, lamb, pork liver and poultry.