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Understanding Vitamins and Their Many Benefits

by Dr Prem Community Writer
yogurt

Your doctor recommends a daily vitamin and your mother always encouraged you to eat your greens. But why? Are vitamins really as important as we believe? And what are some of the ways we can get our daily dose of all the important vitamins we need? This article will breakdown the most common vitamins, why we need them, and where you can find them.

The Vitamin Breakdown

Here is a list of 10 vitamins that you should incorporate into your daily diet when possible.

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Folic Acid
  • Zinc

Although there are other vitamins out there, these 10 are the most important to your everyday health and body functions. Check out why they are important and how you can easily incorporate them into your diet.

Vitamin A
 Carrot

This important vitamin is responsible for healthy eyesight, reproductive and immune systems. Other added benefits include improved function of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other major organs. Vitamin A is present in many of the foods you likely eat. These include:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricots
  • Squash
  • Kale, spinach, and collard greens

Interestingly enough, many of these foods are orange! 

Vitamin B

When people refer to vitamin B it is generally B12. This nutrient is a key element in keeping the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy. Vitamin B12 is also responsible for creating DNA and the genetic material found in cells. This vitamin helps your body absorb iron and maintain a healthy immune system. Incorporating vitamin B12 into your diet helps ward off feelings of fatigue and weakness caused by a disorder known as anemia. Anemia is also known as lack of blood. Foods rich in vitamin B12 include:

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Leafy greens

Try adding one of these foods at each meal to give your body a vitamin B12 boost. 

Vitamin C

 Orange

Most people think of oranges and the breakfast juice produced by this citrus fruit when discussing vitamin C, and for good reason. Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C but they are not the only one! Other foods that contain this vitamin are:

  • Peppers (red and green)
  • Kiwi
  • Grapefruit
  • Strawberries
  • Guava
  • Brussel sprouts

So what makes vitamin C so important? It is great for maintaining healthy skin with elasticity. Vitamin C also helps strengthen blood vessels, aids in iron absorption. It also helps with growth, repair, and development of all body tissues. If you are looking to strengthen your bones, cartilage or teeth, vitamin C can help. 

Vitamin D 

The interesting part about this vitamin is that it is often found in nature, not in your refrigerator. Vitamin D comes mostly from the sun’s rays. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and helps the body absorb calcium. Whether you live in Florida, Charlotte or northern states like Maine and Washington, even small amounts of sunshine can provide a sufficient amount of vitamin D. Nevertheless, you can also get ample vitamin D from the foods you eat, including:

  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Fatty fish
  • Beef liver
  • Various dairy products 

Vitamin E
 Almond

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, also known as a fat-soluble nutrient in the body. Its primary job is protecting your body’s cells from free radicals. Free radicals are compounds in the body that attack and harm your body’s tissues, cells, and organs. To help keep your cells healthy and combat signs of aging, it’s important to incorporate vitamin E into your diet. Here are some ways to get your daily dose of vitamin E.

  • Oils (sunflower, corn, soybean)
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts)
  • Seeds (sunflower)

Vitamin E also helps strengthen your immune system and fight off foreign substances and bacteria. 

Vitamin K 

One of the lesser known vitamins, vitamin K is still an important part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Its primary purpose is to help your blood clot. That is why; individuals with low vitamin K levels should avoid taking medications that cause additional thinning of the blood. This could lead to major health complications and hemorrhaging. To ensure you are getting enough vitamin K through your diet, add some of these food items to your plate:

  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, romaine, parsley, Swiss chard)
  • Other green vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Liver
  • Meat

If you enjoy cold cereal, check the label on your favorite brand. It may just offer a daily dose of this important vitamin. 

Calcium
 yogurt

Milk does a body good; and, is a great source for calcium. Calcium is the nutrient that is essential for proper overall body function. Its most well known benefit is building strong, healthy bones; but that is not its only function. Calcium also plays a role in helping your blood clot, muscle contraction, and a healthy heart. Almost all of your body’s calcium is found in your teeth and bones. So what other food courses provide calcium besides milk? Here are just a few:

  • Yogurt
  • Seeds
  • Cheese
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts (almonds)
  • Leafy greens
  • Whey protein
  • Sardines 

Iron 

The level of oxygen in your body is extremely important for daily survival and iron plays an important role in delivering oxygen to your lungs and throughout your body. Iron is actually a component of hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. When your body is iron deficient, it causes a condition known as anemia. Foods rich in iron include:

  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Raisins
  • Spinach/Broccoli
  • Tofu
  • Oysters
  • Lentils

If you are looking for a good excuse to indulge in some dark chocolate, here is your reason. Dark chocolate actually contains about 11.9 mg of iron per 100 grams. 

Folic Acid

 Pasta

Folic acid plays a large role in maintaining healthy cell counts. It helps your body to maintain blood cell counts and generate new ones. Folic acid can even prevent cancer by preventing changes in your DNA. Folic acid deficiency call also cause anemia. So where can you get a healthy dose of this acid?

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Breads
  • Cereal
  • Leafy greens

Based on this list, it is clear to see that folic acid is one of the many benefits of consuming carbohydrates. Other benefits include energy and healthy heart, brain, and kidneys.

Zinc 

Zinc not only wards off bacteria and other viruses but it also helps your body produce proteins and DNA. Zinc is responsible for healing wounds and is even responsible for your body’s sense of smell and taste. Zinc is found throughout the cells of your body. If you are unsure if your diet contains enough zinc, check out this list of foods rich in this nutrient.

  • Oysters/Crab/Lobster
  • Poultry
  • Red meat
  • Nuts
  • Beans

Poultry and red meat are the two most popular zinc food sources in America.

This breakdown provides information about the specific benefits of certain vitamins and which foods are packed with these important nutrients. By incorporating a balance of these foods into your diet, you will have no problem reaching your daily dose and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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