As your parents may have told you over and over again growing up, vitamins are important. The human body does not produce vitamins, so it is crucial that we take these organic compounds from food and/or supplements.
Vitamins are dubbed “organic” because all 13 of them contain carbon. They’re also divided between two categories:
- Water-Soluble: Vitamin C, Vitamin B, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and Vitamin B12.
- Fat-soluble: Vitamins A, D, E, and Vitamin K.
Vitamins are otherwise referred to as ‘micronutrients.’
Water-soluble vitamins, as their name suggests, dissolve in water. They don’t stay for too long in the body, but instead quickly pass through the urine from the time they’re consumed. This is why water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins stay in the body longer because they’re easier to store. They find a spot in the fatty tissues and the liver, and usually stay in the body for days – some of them even months.
These compounds use lipids (fats) in order to pass through the intestinal tract and be absorbed by the body.
Most Important Vitamins Ever
Let’s not kid ourselves. All vitamins are important for a normal functioning and everyday well-being. That’s why we’re going to put ALL of them on a list for everyone to find their favorite among the bunch.
THE 13 VITAMINS
We’re starting with a list of the four Fat-soluble vitamins.
Vitamin A (Retinol, Retinal)
What it does: Vitamin A is an essential player in the development of bones, teeth, and skin; it is also crucial in maintaining proper vision and keeping the body safe from a multitude of different infections and ailments. Vitamin A can assume two forms:
Where to find it: carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, eggs, milk, pumpkin, lentils, liver, papaya, and more.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol, Ergocalciferol)
What it does: Remember that oddly satisfying sensation you get when exposed to morning sunlight? That is your body ‘converting’ the energy from the Sun in order to manufacture Vitamin D. This compound helps in absorbing phosphorus and calcium for strong and healthy bones.
Where to find it: direct sunlight, salmon, shrimp, fortified milk, eggs.
Vitamin E (Tocotrienols, Tocopherols)
What it does: Vitamin E plays an important role in protecting the skin from ultraviolet light, mitigates the damage from free radicals, and battles Alzheimer’s disease – among numerous other important properties.
Where to find it: sunflower seeds, kiwi, almonds, olives, turnip greens, asparagus, almonds, and more.
Vitamin K (Menaquinones, Phylloquinone)
What it does: This compound is vital in quickly patching up the skin after an accidental cut somewhere on your body. Without sufficient amounts of Vitamin K, you’ll have an increased chance of getting susceptible to bleeding, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Where to find it: kale, kiwi, spinach, romaine lettuce, avocado, parsley, and other leafy green veggies, or fruits.
This concludes fat-soluble vitamins.
Water-soluble vitamins add nine to the list of total vitamins.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
What it does: First off, as the majority of readers may be well aware – Vitamin C fends off colds. This unique property is made possible thanks to its antioxidant abilities that boost the immune system; on the other hand, Vitamin C also helps in repairing the connective tissues between the tendons and cartilage in the body.
Where to find it: kakadu plum, camu camu fruit, brussels sprouts, red peppers, papaya.
Vitamin B (Thiamine)
What it does: Vitamin B is the main proprietor behind the utilization of carbs in the body and converting them to energy. Another important property of this micronutrient is promoting a healthy nervous system for impeccable functioning of the communication branches in the brain.
Where to find it: sunflower seeds, pork, grain, brown rice, potatoes, cauliflower, tuna, lentils, and more.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
What it does: Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is crucial in breaking down the three macronutrients for energy: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This compound also promotes healthy skin, whereas a deficiency in Vitamin B2 may cause a condition called ‘ariboflavinosis’ (lips lesions, conjunctivitis, sore throat).
Where to find it: banana, asparagus, calf liver, milk, okra, yogurt, fish, persimmons, and more.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin, Niacinamide)
What it does: As with B2, Vitamin B3 also plays an important role in preserving and maintaining a healthy nervous system. In addition to that, Niacin helps the digestive tract properly do its job.
Where to find it: chicken breast, halibut, turkey, milk, avocado, nuts, mushrooms, and more.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
What it does: This water-soluble compound does multiple things, including breaking down carbs and fat for energy, transforming food into glucose, managing a key role in the forming of stress and sex-related hormones, and more. Vitamin B5 deficiencies are rare since it can be found in most, if not all foods.
Where to find it: meat, broccoli, fish, and most foods.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxamine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxine)
What it does: Vitamin B6 takes a major part in the production of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, as well as in making myelin. This chemical compound is involved in many functions in the body, including a role with 100+ enzyme reactions, and promoting multiple benefits within the central nervous system.
Where to find it: milk, meat, banana, veggies, and nuts.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
What it does: Vitamin B7, or Biotin, is crucial in maintaining energy during regular workouts. This compound helps in keeping the red blood cell levels in check, which in turn are responsible for transporting oxygen in the body; this is crucial for active individuals and people who want to continue that path.
A deficiency in Biotin may cause dermatitis, enteritis, or other illnesses.
Where to find it: liver, egg yolks, legumes, almonds, romaine lettuce, and more. However, it’s important to note that Vitamin B7 is found in LOW amounts in any food – therefore a good bet would be to take it in supplement form.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
What it does: This vitamin is a top priority for women who are expecting or plan on doing so in the near future. Vitamin B9 – or Folic Acid – plays a major role during pregnancies, since it prevents unwanted birth defects or miscarriages. In addition to this, Folic Acid is also linked to anemia prevention and new cells reproduction in the body.
Where to find it: lentils, legumes, sunflower seeds, black beans, pinto beans, and beer.
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin, Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin)
What it does: Vitamin B12 prevents anemia and promotes the formation of healthy and mature red blood cells in the body. This micronutrient is also vital in preserving a healthy nervous system.
Where to find it: shellfish, milk, fish, meats. Plants do not contain this compound, and this is why vegans must take Vitamin B12 supplements in order to stay healthy.
This concludes water-soluble vitamins.