The Most Important Vitamin for Your Body: A Comprehensive Guide

Vitamins are essential for the body to grow and function properly. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12 and folate). Vitamin D is the most important vitamin for the body overall due to its role in so many bodily functions and the staggering number of people who are deficient in it. Getting enough vitamin D is crucial for your body to absorb the calcium it needs for healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to certain types of cancer and heart disease. Our main source of vitamin D is not food, but the sun. Risk factors for low vitamin D levels include living in high latitudes, high levels of air pollution or urban smog, a dense cloud cover, clothing that always covers the skin, and generous use of sunscreen (although both are very important in protecting the skin from sun damage) and darker pigmentation of the skin. If you don't eat fish or if these foods aren't available to you, talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin A is important for vision, skin health and immunity. It is found in preformed vitamin A (retinol) and beta-carotene, which the body converts to an active form of vitamin A. You can get vitamin A from beef liver, salmon, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, leafy greens, melon, apricots, mangoes, dairy products, and fortified cereals. You can get vitamin B from meat, poultry, fish, offal, eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and fortified cereals, breads and pasta.

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C stimulates the immune system and increases iron absorption from plant-based foods and supplements. Because it is an antioxidant, vitamin C protects our cells from harmful free radicals. It also helps wound healing by helping our body produce collagen. If you smoke, you need 35 mg more vitamin C per day than non-smokers because the body needs more vitamin C to repair cellular damage caused by free radicals in tobacco smoke.

You can get vitamin C from fruits and citrus juices, kiwi, red and green peppers, strawberries, melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, tomato juice and roasted potatoes (cooking it this way with the skin on retains folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin C). Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods. Known as the “sun vitamin” most of the vitamin D our body receives is absorbed from the sun through the skin. Foods with vitamin D include salmon tuna mackerel beef liver egg yolks mushrooms milks and cereals fortified with milk and nuts.

Vitamin E protects our cells from free radicals boosts our immune system and helps prevent blood clots. You can get vitamin E from sunflower safflower and wheat germ oils sunflower seeds almonds peanuts spinach chard avocados and zucchini. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and bone health. You may need more vitamin K if you have had bariatric surgery to lose weight or if you have a malabsorption disorder. You can get vitamin K from spinach kale lettuce broccoli soy blueberries figs meat cheese eggs and vegetable oils. Approximately 99 percent of calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth where it is crucial for structural support.

The rest is found in blood muscles and intracellular fluids where it is a fundamental part of many metabolic neurological and muscular functions. Postmenopausal women (who have a high risk of osteoporosis) and people who do not consume dairy products (a major source of calcium) are most likely to need calcium supplements. You can get calcium from dairy products (such as milk cheese and yogurt) fortified non-dairy milks (such as almond soy and rice milks) fortified orange juice sardines with bones tofu (if prepared with calcium) collard greens kale and broccoli. Iron is an essential part of the formation of red blood cells specifically hemoglobin a protein that binds with oxygen to oxygen through the blood from the lungs to cells throughout the body. Vegetarians need to consume almost twice as much iron a day because iron in plant-based foods is less available to the body than iron found in animal products.

Pregnant women and people with iron-deficiency anemia may also need supplements. You can get iron from meat (especially red meat and liver) seafood lentils beans tofu cashew nuts and broccoli. For optimal health it's a good idea to choose foods that contain the most nutrients. If you need a boost here's the info on which letter does what from A (i.e. Vitamin A) to Z (o - zinc).

Eat these 7 foods when you want a midnight snack 8 unexpected health benefits of milk thistle 11 foods that help you sleep through the night Krill Oil May Help with Heart Health Brain Health And Inflammation Here are the 11 best krill oil supplements. Because we needed additional help getting the full amount of folate and folic acid in our diets The U. S. UU. The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) also requires that folic acid be added to enrich The following foods (if fortified it will appear on The label).If you're concerned about your intake of any of these vitamins contact your pharmacist or doctor for advice on how best to meet your needs.

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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