Vitamins fall into two general types: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and are easily stored in the tissues of the body. Water soluble vitamins dissolve in water, and therefore are not stored in the body in any form, so it is important that you ingest them on a daily basis to ensure your body gets the proper amount in continuous supply.
Vitamin C: this water soluble is a cold-fighting wonder vitamin high in antioxidants. Vitamin C helps your immune system ward off evil bacteria and viruses and also keeps connective tissues like tendons and cartilage healthy and pliable. Citrus fruits typically come to mind first when thinking of food sources loaded with C, but other fruits and vegetables like broccoli, red bell peppers, strawberries and papaya actually have lots more. In fact, a two cup serving of papaya packs a whopping 300 percent of your daily C need.
B Vitamins: there is a group of water soluble B vitamins, each of which has a different function. Vitamin B1 or thiamine helps your body metabolize carbohydrates for energy.Thiamine also helps keep your nervous system healthy by helping to maintain efficient nerve transmission. Sunflower seeds are a great source for B1, as are black beans, lentils and yellowfin tuna.
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is another B vitamin that helps your body break down large nutrients like carbs, proteins and fats into micronutrients for absorption. It also helps keep your skin clear and healthy. Liver has lots of B2, but if you’re not a liver fan, try milk, which is also loaded with riboflavin.
Niacin or Vitamin B3 helps with energy production and nervous system health. It also helps you keep a healthy digestive tract. A five-ounce serving of chicken has lots of B3; so does turkey as well as fish like halibut or yellowfin tuna.
Folic Acid: You may know folic acid because of its importance to pregnant mothers, but the water-soluble folic acid is important for everyone. Women who are or want to become pregnant need it to help prevent birth defects. Everyone needs it because it helps new cells reproduce and helps new blood cells form to prevent anemia. Several types of beans are rich in folic acid, including lentils, black beans and pinto beans, as are greens like asparagus and spinach.
Biotin: You may not have heard of biotin, but it is important to red blood cell health and is an important metabolizer of other nutrients in the body. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and is not found in foods in high amounts, so over-the-counter vitamin formulations are the best source. Some foods do contain it in very small amounts, such as romaine lettuce, tomatoes, almonds, legumes, swiss chard and liver.
Vitamin D: Most adults worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D. Your body can produce the fat-soluble Vitamin D by itself, but only if there is enough direct sunlight to shine on your skin to convert it to a useable source. Most people don’t get sufficient sunlight, so they lack enough Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus for strong bones. Milk is fortified with Vitamin D, so is a good source. Whole eggs, shrimp and salmon are also excellent sources.
Vitamin E: This fat-soluble vitamin is an antioxidant that aids your immune system as well as your circulatory system. Its strong antioxidant powers help repair body tissues, too. Packed with B vitamins, sunflower seeds are also a great source of E, too, as are almonds, spinach, turnip greens, papaya and olives.
Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin is also known as retinol. It keeps mucus membranes healthy as a first line of defense for the immune system, but is perhaps best known as the vitamin that promotes healthy eyes and vision. A little known fact is that Vitamin A also has a key role in bone growth, so it’s vitally important that growing children get enough. But you have to like carrots, which have a whopping 600 percent of your daily need in a single cup. Also try squashes, spinach and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin K: K is another important fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy veins and to prevent varicose veins and blood clots. K is for kale, and this leafy green is packed with it; in fact, a cup gives you 1000 percent of what you need on a daily basis. Other greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, brussel sprouts and broccoli are also good sources.
Too much of anything can cause issues, and the same goes for vitamins. Follow labels as directed. Taking too much of a fat-soluble vitamin can lead to hypervitaminosis, or excess levels in the body, because fat-soluble vitamins are stored by the body. And just because water soluble vitamins dissolve and you need a continuous supply doesn’t mean you should take excess amounts. Both can have toxic effects. For example, too much B6 causes nerve damage, and too much C causes kidney stones. Remember, too, that you are taking in additional vitamins in the food you eat, so be sure to factor in food intake when deciding how many vitamins you’ll take.