The ABCs of Vitamins: What Do They Do for Your Body?
We all know that vitamins are important for good health, but we might not totally understand why. What do vitamins do for your body, exactly?
Your body needs nutrients to grow, function, and fight off diseases. Since your body can’t produce vitamins on its own, you have to get them through food or supplements.
There are two kinds:
Fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) are stored in your body’s fatty tissue. They are more easily absorbed when consumed with dietary fat.
Water soluble vitamins (B, C) are not stored in your body. If not used right away, they are passed through urine, so they need to be replenished daily.
The body needs 13 essential vitamins to function properly. Understanding what each of them does can help you make better food choices to get the vitamins you need to feel your best.
Let’s take a look at these vitamins, what they do for your body, and where you’ll find them:
Vitamin A (Retinoids and carotene): Promotes healthy teeth and bones as well as healthy vision and skin. It also helps support your immune and reproductive systems, heart, kidneys, and lungs. (Good sources: beef, carrots, dark-colored fruits, dark leafy vegetables, egg yolks, fish, fortified milk and dairy products, liver, pumpkin, squash, spinach)
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Supports your heart, skin, hair, muscles, digestion, and nervous system. (Good sources: dried milk, eggs, enriched bread and flour, lean meats, legumes, nuts and seeds, organ meats, peas, whole grains)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Good for your skin, hair, nails, eyes, and helps convert food into energy. (Good sources: cheese, fish, leafy green vegetables, liver, milk, yeast)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Helps maintain healthy skin and nerves and lower cholesterol. (Good sources: avocado, eggs, enriched bread and fortified cereals, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, potatoes, poultry)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): Promotes metabolism and the production of hormones and cholesterol. (Good sources: avocado, broccoli, kale, eggs, milk, poultry, potatoes)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Plays a vital role in sleep, mood, appetite, and cognitive function, supports the immune system, and helps prevent heart disease. (Good sources: bananas, chicken, fish, legumes, pork, whole grains)
Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Increases absorption of protein, fat, and carbohydrates and promotes healthy hair and bones. (Good sources: chocolate, egg yolks, legumes, milk, nuts, organ meats, pork)
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid, folate, folacin): Helps your body make DNA and works with B12 to form red blood cells, which prevents anemia. (Good sources: asparagus, broccoli, beets, leafy green vegetables, lentils, oranges, peanut butter, wheat germ)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Supports healthy nerve function and metabolism, and breaks down fatty and amino acids, which helps lower your risk of heart disease. (Good sources: meat, eggs, milk and milk products, organ meats, shellfish)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid): Bolsters your immune system to fight infections and heal wounds, and helps your body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue. (Good sources: citrus, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes)
Vitamin D (Calciferol): Promotes the absorption of calcium, which is vital for bone health, and helps reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. (Good sources: fatty fish and fish liver oil, fortified cereals, fortified milk and dairy products)
Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol): Supports your immune system and protects cells from damage, which helps fight cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. (Good sources: avocado, dark green vegetables, corn and sunflower oils, mango and papaya, nuts and seeds, wheat germ)
Vitamin K (Phylloquinone, menadione): Promotes bone health and helps your blood to clot. (Good sources: beef, cabbage, cauliflower, cereal, dark green and leafy vegetables, eggs, fish, liver)
So the next time someone asks, “What do vitamins do for your body?” You can tell them!
Often, we aren’t able to get all the vitamins and nutrients we need through food alone. For example, it’s not uncommon for people who follow a vegetarian diet to be deficient in Vitamin B12, since it is mostly derived from animal products.
That’s where supplements come in! The THRIVE Experience provides vitamins (as well as minerals, plant extracts, anti-oxidants, enzymes, probiotics, and amino acids) to help fill nutritional gaps and keep your body functioning at its highest level. Try THRIVE today!