Vitamins are essential nutrients (i.e. nutrients that we need for basic function, but cannot produce on our own). There are two classifications of vitamins: Water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 (cobalamin), and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A (retinol), vitamin D, vitamin E (tocopherol), and vitamin K.
Solubility refers to one substance’s (the solute) ability to dissolve into another (the solvent). Thus, a water-soluble vitamin dissolves in water. Because of this, they are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins. They must be replenished every day.
The B vitamins and vitamin C are found in many different kinds of food, both plant and animal products. Unfortunately, modern-day grain processing has made many of our grains deficient in most of the vital B-complexes. Food companies have been fortifying grains for this reason. Fortification is the processes of placing synthetic vitamins back into the food that has lost nutrients due to processing. Just another good reason to eat whole foods!
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Functions: Used in energy and alcohol metabolism; promotes a healthy appetite
Dietary Sources: Nutritional yeast, pork, organ meat, whole-grain, sesame seeds, wheat germ, bran, dried herbs and spices, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, blackstrap molasses
Notes: This was the first B vitamin for scientists to discover.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism
Dietary Sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese, liver, almonds, dried herbs, spices, peppers, edamame, bran, sun-dried tomatoes, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast
Notes: B2 is destroyed by ultraviolet light, which is why a lot of milk is bottled in opaque jugs instead of clear jugs.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism; digestion aid; lowers triglycerides
Dietary Sources: Peanuts, liver, veal, paprika, avocado, bacon, bran, fish, some mushrooms, poultry, milk, eggs, legumes, nutritional yeast, nuts
Notes: High doses of the synthetic form of this vitamin can be dangerous.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism; production of hormones
Dietary Sources: Wheat bran, avocados, caviar, cheese, whey, tomatoes, mushrooms, oats, chicken, beef, nutritional yeast, potatoes, liver, egg yolk, broccoli
Notes: Many skin and hair products contain pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Functions: Amino acid metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, helps make red blood cells
Dietary Sources: Fish, dried herbs and spices, garlic, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, molasses, hazelnuts, pistachios, bran, meat, starchy vegetables, noncitrus fruits, liver, soy, legumes
Notes: Vitamin B6 may help to ward of colorectal cancer.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and glycogen synthesis
Dietary Sources: Egg yolks, liver, fish, oats, soybeans, wheat germ, lentils, split peas, bran, avocados, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, pecan, peanuts, walnuts
Notes: Adequate vitamin B7 helps a person have beautiful hair and nails.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Functions: Used in DNA synthesis and new cell growth
Dietary Sources: Leafy green vegetables, nutritional yeast, dried herbs, edamame, liver, bean sprouts, pinto beans, lentils, asparagus, sunflower seeds
Notes: Folic acid is extremely important to a growing fetus. If pregnant, be sure to eat food rich in this B vitamin.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Functions: Needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine; blood formation; fatty acid synthesis; DNA synthesis
Dietary Sources: Clams, oysters, mussels, liver, fish eggs, fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, eggs, cheese
Notes: Consuming excess vitamin B12 will not give you energy.
Functions: Antioxidant; collagen synthesis; immune support; helps in iron absorption
Dietary Sources: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, red and green chili pepper, dark leafy greens, kiwis, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, fresh herbs, papayas, strawberries, cantaloupes, mangoes, potatoes
Notes: If you have a cold, don’t take a lot of synthetic vitamin C. Vitamin C doesn’t cure the cold, it’s preventative! Through a whole foods diet, you should get plenty of vitamin C and, in turn, have a stellar immune system.
Understanding Nutrition, 12th Edition (Whitney & Rolfes 2010); USDA
Originally posted 2013-09-16 14:21:49.