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A beginner’s guide to the most important vitamins

By Karina Hammer, Certified Holistic Wellness Coach

Vitamins are essential nutrients that are required by the body to perform hundreds of functions, such as immunity, metabolism and digestion.  Let’s go over these micronutrients, where you can find them in nature and what you will experience if you are deficient.

• Vitamin A: essential for eye and reproductive health
– Sources: orange vegetables and leafy greens
– Deficiency: leads to impaired vision and reproductive problems

• B Vitamins: energy metabolism and the breakdown of glucose  Vitamin B is actually a collection of 8 separate vitamins.  Some examples:
– Vitamin B9: also known as folate,  required for proper cellular function and growth – deficiency can lead to digestive dysfunction, depression, fatigue, and failure to thrive
– Vitamin B12: vital for nervous system and brain function – deficiency leads to fatigue, depression, short-term memory. Pernicious anemia, an autoimmune illness, can cause chronic shortage of B12

• Vitamin C: needed for healthy iron levels, proper immunity, and circulation
– Sources: leafy greens, fruits (especially citrus), berries
– Deficiency: bleeding from mucus membranes, anemia, depleted immunity, scurvy

• Vitamin D: an integral nutrient for improving absorption of calcium, and thus affects bone growth; also boosts immunity and liver function
– Sources: mostly sunlight exposure to skin; red meat, seafood, fortified foods, and some edible mushrooms
– Deficiency: muscle, joint, and bone weakness, pain, or fatigue

• Vitamin E: an antioxidant vitamin necessary for hair, skin, and nail development
– Sources: healthy nuts and vegetable oils
– Deficiency: impaired immunity, anemia, neurological and neuromuscular problems

• Vitamin K: needed to work with protein for best development and strength of blood vessels
– Sources: leafy green vegetables: kale, lettuce, dandelions
– Deficiency: anemia, heavy menstrual bleeding, inability for blood to clot, bleeding from mucus membranes

• Iron: necessary for proper transport of oxygen through blood vessels, and to ramp up healthy immunity
– Sources: red meat, dark leafy greens, mushrooms, black strap molasses
– Deficiency: anemia, low energy, fatigue, pallor

• Zinc: modulates inflammation in many organs all throughout body; also helps strengthen immunity
– Sources: meat, shellfish, vegetables and legumes
– Deficiency: decreased immunity, low fertility, weight and hair loss

Iodine: necessary for thyroid health and function
– Sources: ocean seafood, seaweed and kelp
– Deficiency: decreased thyroid function, hyper/hypothyroidism

Vitamins are essential for our growth and function. The best way to ensure that you are getting all the vitamins that your body needs is by eating a variety of real, whole foods.

Karina Hammer is a Nashville based IAWP Certified Holistic Wellness Coach, Co-Host of the Magnetic Heart Radio Show, Wellness Expert, Writer, Speaker and Educator.  She can be contacted at: or

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