The 13 Essential Vitamins: What They Are and How to Get Them

Vitamins are essential substances that our body needs to develop and function normally. There are 13 essential vitamins, and each plays a unique and vital role in keeping your body healthy. These vitamins are A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12 and folate). They help the growth, development and function of all cells.

Your body can't produce enough vitamins on its own, so we need to get them from outside sources. While many people take a daily multivitamin, most can get all 13 essential vitamins from fortified foods and foods. Preformed vitamin A is found in meat, poultry, eggs and other animal products. Provitamin A is found in fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, mangoes and carrots. Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that protects body cells from exposure to free radicals in the environment from smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light.

It also helps the body produce collagen, improves the body's ability to absorb iron, and helps the immune system work properly. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits have a lot of vitamin C. Other foods that contain vitamin C include kiwis, red and green peppers, strawberries and broccoli. Vitamin D is important for bone health and aids in the blood clotting process. Recommendations vary but most adults should aim for 600 international units (IU) a day to increase their vitamin D levels.

Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are some of the best natural sources of dietary vitamin D. Most of us get most of the vitamin D we eat from foods fortified with vitamin D such as all milk sold in the U. S.

UU. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect the body against free radicals. It is also used in blood cells and immune system functions. Vitamin K is important for bone health and aids in the blood clotting process. Thiamine also known as vitamin B1 helps the body use carbohydrates for energy.

It plays a fundamental role in nerve function as well as in the health of skin hair and muscles. Riboflavin also called vitamin B2 helps convert food into energy and is important for the growth and function of body cells. Riboflavin also plays a key role in metabolism particularly in the metabolism of fats drugs and steroids. Niacin also known as vitamin B3 helps convert food into energy and is important in the development and function of body cells. Riboflavin or vitamin B5 helps convert food into energy and helps the body produce and break down fats. Vitamin B6 is used in more than 100 different enzymatic reactions that help the body's metabolism.

It also plays a key role in brain development during pregnancy. B12 is the big hit of the B vitamins. Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the production of DNA the unique genetic material found in every cell in our body. It also helps the body produce red blood cells and protects nerve cells.Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as beef poultry eggs milk and other dairy products. Vegetarians and vegans are more at risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because of their diet and may need to take supplements or increase their intake of fortified foods. A diet that includes all sufficient and varied types of fruits vegetables whole grains healthy fats and proteins will be ideal.

Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider to see if taking a daily multivitamin or supplementing your diet with certain vitamins from this list is a good option for you.

Ben Liebhardt
Ben Liebhardt

Amateur travel fanatic. General web buff. Certified travel junkie. Twitter nerd. Infuriatingly humble web practitioner. Certified beer nerd.

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