V is for Vitamins

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V is for Vitamins

By Megan Barnes, Dietetic Intern

Vitamins are micro-nutrients our body cannot produce on its own. Instead, we need the help from the foods we eat to consume the vitamins necessary for normal bodily function. Vitamins are categorized by the process of which they are digested and absorbed in the body. Fat-soluble vitamins need to be consumed with a fat source for optimal absorption and utilization while water-soluble vitamins are absorbed with water present. 

Vitamins are in many foods including fruit, vegetables, dairy, oils, nuts and seeds, beans, whole grains, and protein. Try to eat a variety from all food groups to get all your essential nutrients! 

VITAMIN FUNCTIONS AND FOOD SOURCES:

Fat Soluble Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A: Vision, growth and development, skin integrity, and immune function
    • Best sources: Liver, dairy products, vitamin A fortified foods (read labels), sweet potato, spinach, butternut squash, greens, broccoli and cantaloupe
  • Vitamin D: Bone health and cell growth 
    • Best sources: fatty fish, shiitake mushrooms, foods that are fortified with vitamin D like milk, dairy, orange juice, and cereals, can also be synthesized in skin from sunlight exposure 
  • Vitamin E: Antioxidant-protects our body from free radicals (UV light, radiation, alcohol, inflammation, metabolism, smoking, pollution) 
    • Best sources: Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds 
  • Vitamin K: Blood clotting 
    • Best  sources: Leafy greens, legumes, oils, blueberries, figs, animal products (meat, eggs, and dairy) 

Water Soluble Vitamins:

 

  • Vitamin B complex: Helps create energy from the food you eat, produce red blood cells, and metabolize cells. Complex includes: Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), B6, Biotin (B7), Folate (B9), and B12
    • Best sources: meat, leafy greens, dairy products, beans, peas, and grains
  • Vitamin C: Antioxidant-protects our body from free radicals and is important for collagen synthesis (the most abundant protein in our body) which helps with growth and repair of our cells and tissues. 
    • Best sources: citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, green peppers, watermelon, Brussel sprouts, juices fortified with vitamin C as well as many other fruits and vegetables

Fun fact: Despite the popular belief that vitamin C can cure the common cold, most studies have not proven this notion!