Vitamins 101

Vitamins are micronutrients necessary for the maintenance of normal metabolic functions and blood cell formation. Vitamins are needed in small quantities and must be obtained through the diet, otherwise deficiencies can arise. There are two classifications of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble, with the distinguishing factor being the way they are utilized in the body.

Water Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are found in the fluid portion of the body and do not accumulate to a significant degree. This means that toxicity is near impossible, and it also means that we need to consume them regularly.

1. B vitamins

B vitamins are grouped together because they similar function in the body. This class of vitamins is responsible for converting food into energy, maintaining normal brain and nerve function, and aiding in the production of red blood cells. The 9 vitamins that make up the B vitamin family are:

  • B1 (Thiamine)
  • B2 (Riboflavin)
  • B3 (Niacin)
  • B5 (Pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • B7 (Biotin)
  • B9 (Folate)
  • B12 (Cobalamin)

You can find B vitamins in the following foods:

  • Red meat
  • Seafood
  • Enriched grains
  • Seeds
  • Egg yolk
  • Leafy greens
2. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbic acid, is a potent antioxidant which aids in fighting oxidative stress due to pollution and toxins. Vitamin C is important to immune function and collagen development, which helps maintain skin’s elasticity. It is also vital for healthy bones, teeth and gum, and it helps the body in the absorption of iron.

You can find vitamin C in the following foods:

  • Citrus fruit (lemon, lemon, oranges)
  • Broccoli
  • Organ meat
  • Kiwis
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Strawberries
  • Peppers
Fat Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the lipid portion of the body and therefore can accumulate to significant amounts. Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolved in fat and need to be paired with dietary fat in order to be utilized by the body. Fat-soluble vitamins can become toxic if consumed in excess since they are stored in the body.

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential component of a healthy immune system. Not only does vitamin A prevent eye problems and maintain healthy skin, but it is also essential for the growth and development of cells.

You can find vitamin A in the following foods:

  • Liver
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Darkly colored fruits
  • Leafy vegetables
2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because we can synthesize it in through our skin with UV light exposure. Vitamin D is important for building and maintaining strong bones because it helps the body absorb calcium.

You can find vitamin D in the following foods:

  • Fatty fish
  • Fortified milk products
  • Fortified cereals
  • Egg yolks
3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E refers to several nutrients known as tocopherols. Similar to Vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant which helps protect our cells from damage. Vitamin E also plays a vital role in the health of red blood cells.

You can find vitamin E in the following foods:

  • Vegetable  oils
  • Unprocessed cereal grains
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meats
4. Vitamin K

There are two naturally occurring forms of vitamin K - phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinone-n (vitamin K2). While plants are capable of making vitamin K1, the bacteria in our guts convert it to the more usable K2.

You can find vitamin K in the following foods:

  • Green vegetables
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Plant oils