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What Are Vitamins?

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are nutrients your body needs to function and fight off disease. Your body cannot produce vitamins itself, so you must get them through food you eat or in some cases supplements. There are 13 vitamins that are essential to your body working well. Knowledge of the different types and understanding the purpose of these vitamins are important for good health.


Types and Examples of Foods

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your fat cells, consequently requiring fat in order to be absorbed. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in your body; therefore, they need to be replenished daily. Your body takes what it needs from the food you eat and then excretes what is not needed as waste. Here is a list of vitamin types and some common food sources:


The fat soluble vitamins:

Vitamin A – comes from orange colored fruits and vegetables; dark leafy greens, like kale
Vitamin D – can be found in fortified milk and dairy products; cereals; (and of course sunshine!)
Vitamin E – is found in fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, seeds, and nuts
Vitamin K – can be found in dark green leafy vegetables and turnip/beet greens

The water soluble vitamins:

Vitamin B1 or Thiamin – come from whole grains, enriched grains; liver; nuts, and seeds
Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin – comes from whole grains, enriched grains, and dairy products
Vitamin B3 or Niacin – comes from meat, fish, poultry, and whole grains
Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid – comes from meat, poultry, and whole grains
Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine – comes from fortified cereals and soy products
Vitamin B7 or Biotin – is found in fruits and meats
Vitamin B9 or Folic Acid (Folate) – comes from leafy vegetables
Vitamin B12 – comes from fish, poultry, meat, and dairy products
Vitamin C – comes from citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges and grapefruits; red, yellow and green peppers


What Do Vitamins and Minerals Do?

Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. For example, you’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. It’s true! Carrots are full of substances called carotenoids that your body converts into vitamin A, which helps prevent eye problems.

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