It is common knowledge that vitamins are essential for our overall health. However, with so many vitamins available, it’s hard to decipher between them and understand what each one does, how much is necessary on a daily basis and what common foods we can get them from.
You can opt for a multivitamin to keep things simple, but if you would rather get the bulk of your vitamins naturally from the foods you eat, this article is for you.
Also known as retinol, this fat-soluble vitamin helps us retain our vision and prevent macular degeneration. It also keeps bones, teeth and skin healthy, aids in reproduction and defends against some forms of cancer. Common food sources include carrots, pumpkin, squash, liver and green, leafy vegetables. Recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 900 mcg.
B Vitamins at a Glance
B vitamins are all water-soluble, meaning they dissolve easily in water, are easily eliminated from the body and thus require constant replenishment.
B1 (thiamine) – Thiamine helps the body to process carbohydrates and convert them into energy, aids in the production of hydrochloric acid for digestion and helps muscles and nerves function properly. Common food sources include oatmeal, eggs, brown rice, liver, oranges and potatoes. RDA: 1.2 mg
B2 (riboflavin) – Riboflavin helps to keep your hair, skin and eyes healthy. It also helps to convert fats, carbs and proteins into energy. Without it, other vitamins and minerals cannot be absorbed properly. Common food sources include meat, eggs, asparagus, bananas and popcorn. RDA: 1.2 mg
B3 (niacin) – This vitamin also keeps hair, skin, eyes and liver healthy; helps improve blood circulation and nervous system function; aids in the production of sex and stress hormones; and helps the body convert carbs into energy, process fats and proteins. Common food sources include meat, eggs, mushrooms, fish and tree nuts. RDA: 16 mg
B5 (pantothenic acid) – B5 also helps the body produce important sex and stress hormones; improve blood circulation; convert carbs and fat into energy; use cholesterol correctly; and keep the digestive tract healthy. Common food sources include meat, whole grains, broccoli and avocados. RDA: 5 mg
B6 (pyridoxine) – B6 improves immune and metabolic function and aids in the brain development of developing fetuses and infants. Common food sources include meat, tree nuts, dairy products, bananas and vegetables. RDA: 1.7 mg
B7 (biotin) – Biotin helps prevent hair loss, brittle nails, skin rashes, diabetes and depression. Common food sources include eggs, liver, peanuts, some vegetables and dairy products. RDA: 30 mcg
B9 (folic acid, folate) – Folate helps to prevent birth defects in developing fetuses, improve blood circulation and keep blood clean. It may also prevent some forms of cancer and improve heart health. Common food sources include leafy green vegetables, pasta, cereal, liver and bread. RDA: 400 mcg
B12 (cobalamins) – B12 helps to prevent megaloblastic anemia, helps the body manufacture DNA, helps improve neurological function and keeps the blood clean. Common food sources include eggs, liver and other meat and animal products. RDA: 2.4 mcg
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is known to improve immunological function, eliminate disease, waste and toxicity in the body, aid in the formation of collagen for strong bones and their connective tissues, and heal wounds faster. Common food sources include citrus fruits; green, leafy vegetables; and liver. RDA: 90 mg
Vitamin D also goes by the name calciferol, and we depend on this vitamin for strong bones and teeth (helps us absorb calcium); to keep our immune system strong; and for efficient nerves and muscles. Common food sources include liver, fish, eggs and mushrooms. RDA: 600 international units (IU)
Also known as tocopherol, vitamin E gives us strong, healthy hair, nails and skin; improves our immune function and blood circulation; and defends against free radicals. Common food sources include wheat germ oil, unrefined vegetable oils, and many fruits and vegetables. RDA: 15 mg
Vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone, helps the blood to clot and strengthens bones. Common food sources include egg yolks, liver and green leafy vegetables. RDA: 120 mcg