Vitamins are essential nutrients that must be taken every day. The vitamins you get from what you eat and drink must be enough to meet your daily needs. Most people are able to get enough vitamins to meet their needs by following the guidelines outlined in Canada’s Food Guide and eating a variety of healthy foods.
The two most common vitamins
There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble vitamins and lipid-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, vitamin C, biotin, and folate. They are not stored in large amounts in the body, and any extra is lost through your urine.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins can be stored in your body. High amounts of fat-soluble vitamins are not recommended, as they can cause health problems.
What vitamins are in what food? The following table will help you understand why it is important to get enough of some of the common vitamins and lists the best food sources of these vitamins.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Helps with energy production in your body.
Sources – Whole grains, enriched grains, liver, pork, dried beans, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Helps with energy production in your body. Helps your body use other B vitamins.
Sources – Soybeans, meat and poultry, liver and eggs, mushrooms, milk, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, enriched grains.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Helps your body to use protein, fat, and carbohydrates to make energy. Helps enzymes work properly in your body.
Sources – Mushrooms, peanut butter, meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, enriched grains.
Allows your body to use protein, fat, and carbohydrates from food. Biotin content in food can vary greatly.
Sources – Sweet potatoes, non-fat milk, yogurt, peanuts, almonds, eggs, liver, soy protein.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Helps your body to make and use protein and glycogen, which is the stored energy in your muscles and liver. Helps form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood.
Sources – Bananas, 100% bran, instant oatmeal, meat, fish, poultry, liver, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, pistachio, nuts, sunflower seeds.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Works with vitamin folate to make DNA., Helps to make healthy blood cells. Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause a type of anemia. Keep nerves working properly.
Sources – Milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified soy or rice beverages, meat, fish, poultry, liver, eggs, fortified soy products.
Folate is the folate that is found in vitamin supplements. Helps to produce and maintain DNA and cells. Helps to make red blood cells and prevent anemia. Found in vitamin supplements and fortified foods.
Sources – Asparagus, cooked spinach, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli, corn, green peas, oranges, orange juice, bread, enriched pasta, wheat germ, liver, dried beans, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, sunflower seeds, flax seeds.
May help prevent cell damage and reduce risk of certain cancers, heart diseases, and other diseases. Helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps gums healthy. Protects you from infections and keeping your immune system healthy. Increases the amount of iron your body absorbs from some foods.
Sources – Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and their juices, kiwi, strawberries, mangoes, papaya. red, yellow, and green peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, raw dark leafy vegetables.
Helps you to see during the day and at night. Protects you from infections by keeping skin and other body parts healthy. Promotes normal growth and development.
Sources – Liver, some fish, milk, cheese.
Carotenoids (Aapha, betacarotene, et betacryptoxanthin)
Carotenoids are not vitamins but some types can turn into vitamin A in the body. Act as antioxidants, which protect your body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
Sources – Cantaloupe pink grapefruit, tomatoes, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, beet greens, and swiss chard, dark orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
Increases the amount of calcium and phosphorus your body absorbs from foods. Deposits calcium and phosphorus in bones and teeth, making them stronger and healthier. Protects against infections by keeping your immune system healthy.
Sources – Milk, fortified soy, and rice beverages, fortified margarine, some fish, eggs, organ meats, fish liver oils.
Helps to maintain a healthy immune system and other body processes. Acts as an antioxidant and protects cells from damage.
Sources – Vegetable oils, avocados, leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, some nuts, peanut butter.
Make proteins that cause our blood to clot, when you are bleeding. Involved in making body proteins for your blood, bones, and kidneys.
Sources – Broccoli, soybeans, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, turnip/beet greens and spinach.