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Why do we need Vitamins?

By Sabina Rose
Food Pyramid -

It is probably not the first time you hear that eating vitamins is good for you, but why do we need vitamins?

Vitamins in foods provide your body with the materials it needs for energy, growth, repair, and reproduction. A balanced diet will make sure that you get the vitamins that your body needs. Let’s find out what vitamins actually do for your body and where to find them.

Water-soluble vitamins

B vitamins and vitamin C are called water-soluble vitamins, and with the exception of vitamin B12, can not be stored in the body and are eliminated in urine. This means that you must make sure to get enough of B vitamins and vitamin C every day.  Be aware that these vitamins are easily destroyed or washed out during food storage and preparation.

  • B vitamins help the body to obtain energy from food. B vitamins are also important for normal appetite, good vision, healthy nervous system, healthy skin, and red blood cell formation. B vitamins are found in a variety of foods: cereal grains, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, legumes and fresh vegetables.
  • Vitamin C aids in wound healing, hold body cells together, is important for the immune system, assists in tooth and bone formation, strengthens blood vessel walls and improves absorption and use of iron. Vitamin C is found in many common foods such as citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach and red pepper.

Fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E and K are called fat-soluble vitamins. They can be stored in the body, so you need to be careful with dietary supplements that include fat-soluble vitamins.

The fat-soluble vitamins are vital for cell differentiation, immune system function and they’ll help to keep your bones strong.

  • Vitamin A is important for healthy teeth, eyes, skin, skeletal and soft tissue, mucous and membranes. Vitamin A is found in animal liver, milk, butter, cheese, eggs, dark green and yellow vegetables like carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and apricots.
  • Vitamin D is important for healthy teeth and bones and promotes absorption and use of calcium and phosphate. Milk, cheese, eggs, margarine, liver, salmon are good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight is also a good source since the skin can synthesize vitamin D.
  • Vitamin E protects red blood cells. It also aids in preventing destruction of vitamin A and C. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, margarine, green leafy vegetables and wheat germ.
  • Vitamin K is vital for normal blood clotting and synthesis of proteins found in bones, kidneys and plasma. Good food sources of vitamin K are cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, organ meets, meats, wheat bran, cereals, dairy products and eggs.

Click here to see a full list of vitamins.

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