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.
There are 13 vitamins that are essential to health:
Fat Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, K
• Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat before they are absorbed in the bloodstream to carry out their functions
• Stored in the liver and fat tissue when not used
• Megadoses of vitamins A, D, E or K can be toxic and lead to health problems
Water Soluble Vitamins: C, B-complex
• Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and must be replaced each day
• Megadoses of multivitamins or supplements is not recommended.
• Vitamin A – essential for eye, reproductive & immune health
– Sources: beef liver, carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach
– Deficiency: leads to impaired vision and reproductive problems, recurring infections, hair loss, skin rashes, irritability
• B Vitamins – Vitamin B is actually a collection of 8 separate vitamins; Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, B6, Folate, and B12
• Folate – required for proper cellular function and growth, prevents birth defects in pregnant women
– Sources: spinach & other dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, organic beef liver
– Deficiency: can lead to digestive dysfunction, depression, fatigue, and failure to thrive.
• Vitamin B12 – vital for nervous system, red blood cells and brain function
– Sources: cooked clams, organic beef liver, trout, salmon, tuna
– Deficiency: leads to fatigue, depression, short-term memory. Pernicious anemia, an autoimmune illness, can cause chronic shortage of B12
• Niacin – lowers cholesterol, maintains good blood circulation, healthy skin, normal brain function, aids in conversion of nutrients to energy
– Sources: fish, nuts, dried grains, liver, chicken, lean red meat, whole grains, enriched refined grains, dried beans
– Deficiency: severe niacin deficiency results in Pellagra; symptoms affecting the skin (dermatitis), the digestive system (diarrhea), and the nervous system (dementia) and can even lead to death if left untreated.
• Vitamin C – needed for healthy iron levels, proper immunity, and circulation
– Sources: sweet red peppers, leafy greens, fruits (especially citrus), berries, kiwi, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cantaloupe
– Deficiency: bleeding from mucus membranes, anemia, depleted immunity, scurvy
• Vitamin D – “The Sunshine Vitamin” is an integral nutrient for improving absorption of calcium, and thus affects bone growth – also boosts immunity, liver function, normal cell growth, and reduces inflammation.
– Sources: The body can produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. 10-15 minutes of sunshine three times a week is enough to produce the body’s requirement of Vitamin D. Other sources are fatty fishes— including swordfish, salmon, mackerel and especially cod liver oil, and some edible mushrooms
– Deficiency: muscle, joint, and bone weakness, pain, or fatigue