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Vitamins are essential micronutrients that your body needs in small quantities in order to properly function and fight off disease. Unfortunately your body isn’t capable of producing its own vitamins, therefore we must get them through foods or supplements. Currently there are 13 recognised vitamins that contribute to your body’s wellbeing. Understanding the different types and their food sources is a good step forward to a healthier body & mind.
Types of vitamins:
Vitamins can come in either fat-soluble or water-soluble format.
Fat soluble vitamins: A,D,E,K
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fatty tissues of the body and the liver, as a result requiring fat in order to be absorbed. These are easier to store than water-soluble vitamins, and can be kept in body as reserves for days, and in some cases months.
Water soluble vitamins: B -complex and vitamin C
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins do not get stored in our body, therefore they need to be replenished on a daily basis. Your body extracts what it needs from the food you eat and then excretes the unneeded vitamins as waste.
Below I have created a simplified list of all 13 vitamins. Each with a brief description of the vitamins function, food source, deficiency and their solubility.
|Vitamin Name||Function||Food Source||Solubility||Deficiency|
|Vitamin A||Good vision and cell growth||Dark green/ yellow vegetables/ fruit – broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, apricots, carrots and squash.||Fat||Night blindness.|
|Vitamin B1 |
(Thiamin/ thiamine )
|Thiamin (or thiamine) is needed for energy metabolism and the proper function of nervous system.||Liver, kidney potatoes, soya beans, peas, whole grains, seeds and nuts.||Water||Fatigue and depression.|
|Vitamin B2 |
|Riboflavin is needed for healthy skin, hair blood and proper brain function.||Dairy products, fish, grains broccoli.||Water||Digestive problems, slowed growth, fatigue.|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||Niacin aids in the normal functioning of the human digestive system, promoting a healthy appetite, properly functioning nerves, and a glowing skin.Reduces cholesterol levels.||Lentil, barley, carrots, almonds, celery, turnips, peaches, chicken meat, tuna, salmon,asparagus, peanuts, brown rice, corn, green leafy vegetables, sweet potato, potato, mushrooms.||Water||Symptoms include dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and stomatitis.|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) contributes normal mental performance, and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.||Sunflower seeds, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, eggs, squash, strawberries, liver, lentils, split peas, avocado, whole wheat, mushrooms, sweet potato.||Water||Only in severe malnutrition may one notice tingling of feet.|
|Vitamin B6||Cell growth.||Fish, pork, poultry, eggs, bananas, nuts, watermelons.||Water||Confusion, depression, mouth and tongue sores.|
|Vitamin B7 / Vitamin H (Biotin)||Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin, hair and mucous membranes, the nervous system, psychological functions.||Green leafy vegetables, most nuts, whole grain breads, avocado, raspberries, cauliflower, carrots, papaya, banana, salmon, eggs.||Water||Signs of overt biotin deficiency include hair loss and a characteristic scaly red rash in the face (around the eyes, nose, mouth), and in the genital area. Neurological symptoms in adults have included depression, lethargy, hallucination, numbness and tingling of the extremities, and ataxia.|
|Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)||Vitamin B9 is linked to contribute to normal homocysteine levels, healthy blood formation, normal metabolism of the immune system. Folic acid has also shown to aid in amino acid synthesis, normal psychological functions as well as the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.||Cooked spinach, asparagus, and lentils, as well as citrus fruit juices.||Water||Individuals in the early stages of folate deficiency may not show obvious symptoms, but blood levels of homocysteine may increase.|
|Vitamin B12||Needed for building protein in the body, Red blood cells and normal function of nervous system.||Milk, meat, poultry, eggs, fatty fish, liver, kidneys, cereal and cheese.||Water||Anemia, brain and nerve damage.|
|Vitamin C||Needed for the formation of collagen to hold the cells together and for healthy gums, teeth, improves iron absorption and resistance to infection.||Found in many fresh vegetables and fruit such as broccoli, green and red peppers, collar greens, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, lemon and other citrus fruits.||Water||Scurvy.|
|Vitamin D||Promotes absorption and use of calcium, needed for healthy bones and teeth.||Found in milk, cheese, whole eggs, liver, salmon and fortified margarine. The skin can synthesize vitamin D if exposed to enough sunlight on regular bases.||Fat||Found in milk, cheese, whole eggs, liver, salmon and fortified margarine. The skin can synthesize vitamin D if exposed to enough sunlight on regular bases.|
|Vitamin E||Protects red blood cells and helps prevent destruction of vitamin A and C.||Found in margarine, vegetable oil, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables||Fat||Signs of vitamin E deficiency include neuromuscular problems (rare).|
|Vitamin K||Necessary for normal blood clotting and synthesis of protein found in plasma, bone and kidneys.||Spinach, lettuce, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, meet and organs, cereals, dairy products and eggs.||Fat||Excessive bleeding.|