Your body is capable and responsible for a multitude of incredible functions that keep you safe, healthy, and energized throughout the day. These functions, however, require support and help to maintain your body over time. Much of this support comes from a variety of vitamins supplied through a healthy, well-balanced diet. Healthy doses of the appropriate vitamins help to promote strong bones, healthy teeth, clear skin, and much more. Not only are these vitamins helpful in maintaining peak body function, but they also play significant roles in areas such as disease prevention. Sufficient vitamin intake is vital to giving your immune system the support it needs. We provide here ten crucial vitamins for you to promote your overall health.
B12: Vitamin B12 naturally exists in animal products such as fish, meat, and milk and is also widely added to other foods or available as a supplement. This leaves vegetarians and vegans slightly more at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin is responsible for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 deficiency then leads to disruptions of these functions in severe cases. Adults are recommended to take 2.4mcg of vitamin B12 a day – easily met with most proper diets.
B9: Vitamin B9, commonly known as folate, is widely present in a variety of foods from meats and dairy products to fruits and vegetables. In addition, the FDA requires the addition of 140mcg of folic acid per 100g of enriched grain products including bread, rice, and cereal. This makes it much easier to reach the recommended daily allowance of 400mcg for healthy adults. Similar to vitamin B12, folate plays an important role in healthy cell growth and function. Folic acid deficiency is particularly harmful to pregnant women, as it may increase the risk of neural tube defects and childhood leukemia.
B6: Vitamin B6, another one of the eight B vitamins, is found in many foods, especially some fish, organ meats, potatoes, and non-citrus fruits. This vitamin is extremely versatile, serving several important roles in the body, but is perhaps best known for its role in cognitive development and function. Vitamin B6 deficiency is often found alongside vitamins B12 and B9 and is usually indicative of an immune disorder such as impaired renal function or inflammatory bowel disease. Adults should aim for 1.7mg (1700mcg) of vitamin B6 per day to promote overall health.
B5: Vitamin B5 is present in nearly all foods we consume, just in varying amounts. Beef, chicken, and whole grains tend to be more concentrated sources of vitamin B5. Similar to the other B vitamins, vitamin B5 is important in red blood cell production, but it is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and regulating sex and stress hormones. Vitamin B5 deficiency is also thought to be a cause of neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B5 for adults is 5mg.
B3: Vitamin B3, commonly known as niacin, is widely available in many foods, but animal products tend to yield higher concentrations of this particular vitamin. Niacin is crucial in the metabolization of energy for all tissue in your body, helping to promote normal growth and function. Vitamin B3 deficiency is known as Pellagra, a disease best known for its associated skin disorders. Severe Pellagra can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even death in some instances. It’s recommended for adults to intake 16mg of niacin per day to promote and sustain overall health levels.
A: Liver, fish oils, milk, and eggs provide some of the best sources of vitamin A. Many fruits and vegetables alongside fortified grains also serve as good sources of this vitamin. Vitamin A is essential to your vision and also plays an important role in cell growth and development. Deficiency is most common in underdeveloped countries and has been linked to night blindness, damage to DNA, and even cancer. It’s important to get your recommended daily allowance of 900mcg to boost your immune system and vision!
D: Vitamin D is rarely found naturally in large amounts outside of fatty fish and fish liver oils. Fortified foods such as milk and orange juice represent the major source of vitamin D in American diets. This vitamin plays a critical role in promoting calcium absorption, an essential part of maintaining strong, healthy bones. It follows that a vitamin D deficiency may lead to weak, brittle bones and diseases such as osteoporosis. Recent studies have further indicated that vitamin D is important in preventing cardiovascular and immune disorders as well as some cancers. It’s recommended that adults receive 15-20mcg of vitamin D each day.
K: Vitamin K predominantly occurs in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. Vitamin K promotes a wide range of functions in your body, including bone metabolism and the formation of blood clots. Deficiency of this particular vitamin can cause significant bleeding, poor bone development, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Make sure you receive 120mcg of vitamin K every day to ensure healthy body functioning and promote overall health!
C: Vitamin C in the American diet is most frequently derived from citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes. This antioxidant is best known for the role it plays in wound healing and immune function. A deficiency of vitamin C is most prevalent in underdeveloped countries and commonly leads to scurvy, a disease with symptoms such as fatigue, bruising, and bleeding gums. It’s important to receive at least 90mg of vitamin C per day, whether from your diet or supplements, in order to promote your overall health levels.
E: Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are among the best sources of vitamin E. This vitamin is another important antioxidant that plays critical roles in maintaining muscle and red blood cells from damaging free radicals that may lead to cardiovascular disease or cancer. Vitamin E deficiency due to diet is extremely rare in humans, but many diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease directly lead to a deficiency. Considering the high prevalence of vitamin E across many foods, it shouldn’t be an issue to meet your daily allowance of 15mg.
Although true vitamin deficiency is rare in developed countries, many people don’t meet their recommended daily allowance for certain vitamins. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more vitamins than normal and should monitor their intake to prevent health problems for both themselves and their children. Vitamin deficiency may not be a severe health concern alone, but it may easily contribute to more serious disorders such as cancer and heart disease. It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet that should easily meet your daily vitamin needs!