Nutrients & Suplements
How to Get the Vitamins
Your Body Needs
By Lynn Grieger RDN, CDE, CPT, CWC
There are 13 different vitamins, and they’re vital micronutrients. You can divide them into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat-soluble. They require fat to be absorbed, and they are stored for a long time in your liver and body fat. The rest are water-soluble vitamins, which travel more readily through the bloodstream. Your urine contains the ones that you don’t use quickly. Let’s learn how to get the vitamins your body needs.
Vitamins are Necessary for Every
Function in Your Body
Your heart needs them to beat and your lungs need them in order to expand and contract. If specific vitamins aren’t present in large enough quantities, these vital functions are adversely affected or even stop.
Think of your body as a house that needs constant, ongoing maintenance. The walls, foundation, and roof of the house are the macronutrients that provide the structure. Vitamins are the individual nails that hold everything together, the grout that keeps the floor tiles in place, and the paint that protects the walls. When you run out of nails, the house falls apart. When the grout crumbles and isn’t repaired, the floor tiles separate, and when paint chips and flakes, the walls are more likely to decay.
When Your Body Runs Out of a Specific Vitamin
Getting the Right Amount of Vitamins
If your body runs out of a vitamin that it needs, it can’t function correctly. For example, when you don’t get enough vitamin C, your gums start to bleed, wounds don’t heal, and severe joint pain develops. This is because vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining the health of ligaments, skin, tendons, and blood vessels. It’s necessary to heal wounds and to repair and maintain bones and teeth.
Moderation is key. When it comes to vitamins, too much can be just as bad as too little. Vitamins are like Goldilocks and the three bears: too little can lead to deficiency disease and too much can cause imbalances or health problems. The correct amount is just right.
Choose Nutrient-dense Foods
The best way to get the vitamins your body needs is by choosing nutrient-dense foods. Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, and a variety of lean protein foods. A nutrient-poor diet that is high in processed foods contains too few vitamins. A vitamin supplement is not a substitute for a healthful diet.
Vitamin A is mostly found in sweet potatoes, milk, eggs, liver, leafy greens, and carrots. Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, mucus membranes, and skin.
Vitamin D is produced in the skin after exposure to the sun. You can also get some by eating fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Vitamin E is found in a wide variety of foods including: wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, broccoli, and kiwi fruit. Vitamin E plays a role in making red blood cells and helps the body use vitamin K.
Vitamin K is present in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and mustard greens. It’s also found in avocados and kiwi fruit. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is found in yeast, pork, cereal grains, liver, and eggs. Thiamine plays a role in using carbohydrates for energy, and also is essential for heart and nerve function.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is present in dairy products, lean meats, leafy greens, legumes, and eggs. Riboflavin is important for producing red blood cells and plays a role in growth.
Niacin (vitamin B3) is found in poultry, fish, pork, peanuts, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and peas. Niacin helps maintain skin and nerves and also lowers cholesterol levels.
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is found in chickpeas, fish, whole grains, potatoes, and nuts. It helps with red blood cells and brain function.
Biotin (vitamin B7) is in peanuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, and eggs. It is essential for metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and also for hormones and cholesterol.
Folic acid is present in leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and citrus fruit. Folic acid works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells and is essential for DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function.
Vitamin B12 is found in fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy products. It helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.
Vitamin C is found in broccoli, citrus, spinach, strawberries, and tomatoes. It’s key for healthy teeth and gums, it helps the body absorb iron, and it promotes wound healing.
This information is for educational purposes only. The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your physician if you have any question regarding a medical condition
You may also like:
The Discovery of the vitamins. Richard D. Semba. Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res., 82 (5), 2012, 310 – 315
What are vitamins? What vitamins do I need? Medical News Today. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195878.php updated 2-10-14. Accessed 7-25-14
Vitamin C. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm updated 2-18-13. Accessed 7-26-14.
Symptoms of Scurvy. National Health Services. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Scurvy/Pages/Symptoms.aspx last reviewed 1-24-13. Accessed 7-26-14.
Vitamins. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002399.htm updated 2-18-13. Accessed 7-27-14