The Best Foods To Get All Your Daily Vitamins
Unless you’re Michael Kors or the late Steve Jobs, you probably don’t wear the same clothes every day.
But it can be easy, given the convenience of the Standard American Diet, to find the same food on our plates.
Our bodies need a variety of foods from all food groups in order to function. And part of that variety includes a daily dose of vitamins.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are are one of the groups of nutrients that our bodies need in order to grow, develop and stay healthy. Different vitamins play different roles—they help us fight off infections, keep our nerves healthy and help our blood clot. They also help our bodies turn food into energy and protect us when we are feeling stressed or sleep deprived.
There are 13 vitamins that we need a healthy dose of every day:
1. Vitamin A: Needed for vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes, bone and tooth growth, and immune system health
Sources: Fortified milk, cheese, cream, butter, fortified margarine, eggs, liver, leafy, dark green vegetables, dark orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe), and vegetables (carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)
2. Vitamin C: Antioxidant; needed to support immune system health; aids in iron absorption
Sources: Found only in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, vegetables in the cabbage family, cantaloupe, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, papayas, mangoes and kiwifruit
3. Vitamin D: Needed for proper absorption of calcium; benefits muscle function; supports immune function
Sources: Egg yolks, liver, fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified margarine; when exposed to sunlight, the skin can make vitamin D
4. Vitamin E: Antioxidant; protects cell walls
Sources: Polyunsaturated plant oils, leafy green vegetables, liver, egg yolks, nuts and seeds
5. Vitamin K: Needed for proper blood clotting
Sources: Leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens and spinach; green vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and asparagus; also produced in intestinal tract by bacteria
6. Thiamine-B1: Acts with enzymes needed for energy metabolism; important to nerve function
Sources: Found in all nutritious foods in moderate amounts
7. Riboflavin-B2: Acts with enzymes needed for energy metabolism; important for normal vision and skin health
Sources: Milk and milk products, leafy green vegetables, and whole-grain, enriched breads and cereals
8. Niacin-B3: Acts with enzymes needed for energy metabolism; important for nervous system, digestive system and skin health
Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, whole-grain or enriched breads and cereals, vegetables (especially mushrooms, asparagus and leafy green vegetables) and peanut butter
9. Pantothenic acid: Acts with enzymes needed for energy metabolism
Sources: Widespread in foods
10. Biotin: Acts with enzymes needed for energy metabolism
Sources: Widespread in foods; also produced in the intestinal tract by bacteria
11. B6: Part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism; helps make red blood cells
Sources: Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables and fruits
12. B12: Acts with enzymes needed for making new cells; important to nerve function
Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, milk and milk products; not found in plant foods
13. Folate: Acts with enzymes needed for making DNA and new cells, especially red blood cells
Sources: Leafy green vegetables, legumes, seeds, orange juice and liver
For optimal health, eat the rainbow
Once you’ve received your personalized nutrition report and shopping list, you’ll know which vitamins your body needs more or less of. And you’ll know which foods are the best sources of these vitamins for your body.
It’s important to eat a variety of foods from different food groups which are composed of similar nutrients. For example, animal meats fuel the body with protein, B12, iron and zinc.
Different colors of fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients. Colorful produce typically contains Vitamin C. Dark greens provide Vitamin K and Vitamin A.
Ideally, we should get all the vitamins we need from our food. But in some cases, supplements can help when we need an extra dose or when we have a certain condition. You’ll want to consult your doctor, nutritionist or health coach for advice. A simple blood test can determine which supplements you’ll want to take, how much to take and which brands are best.
Our bodies tell us when we are vitamin deficient
When we are eating the right foods for our genes, and getting the right amounts of vitamins, we can feel it. Our energy levels hold steady, we find ourselves sleeping well and our spirits are high.
On the other hand, when we stray from our DNA-diets, our bodies let us know. There are a series of subtle symptoms that appear when we aren’t getting the vitamins we need, or when we aren’t eating the right sources of certain vitamins.
We may develop brittle nails. Cracks in the corners of our mouth may appear and our gums may bleed. We may also notice changes in our vision, especially when we drive at night.
Our hair might become brittle or start to fall out, or we may find dandruff flakes on our shirt collar. And our skin may develop a goosebump-like rash.
By increasing our vitamin and mineral intake, we can reverse or prevent these symptoms. And by eating for our genes we can take control of our health, and protect the health of our loved ones.
On your next trip to the grocery story, toss a few foods into your cart that are vitamin rich. You can download our “Ultimate Vitamin Shopping List” here.