Updated: 3 days ago
Vitamins; we know they’re important, but when it comes to which vitamin does what and how much we should be consuming, we’re often left in the dark (you’ll need some Vitamin A for that 😉).
So, here to help is my beginner's guide to the main vitamins for healthy bodies, what they do and where to find them.
Known for its contribution to our general growth and development, Vitamin A is also great for our eyes, teeth and skin. That’s where the saying ‘eating carrots will help you see in the dark’ comes from, so it’s no surprise that carrots and other orange foods are packed full of Vitamin A.
Other sources include: sweet potato, cantaloupe melons and cheese.
Strengthening our immune system and maintaining our energy levels are key jobs for B Vitamins. In particular, Vitamin B6 helps to create a strong immune system, making new red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. While Vitamin B12 is vital for producing energy.
They can often be found in whole, unprocessed foods including whole grains, potatoes, lentils and beans.
Great for its anti-oxidant function and iron absorption, Vitamin C contributes to your immune defence to help fight infections. It also strengthens blood vessels and give your skin elasticity (which is why you often see it in skincare products).
The average adult needs 40mg or Vitamin C per day, which is easy to get from our diet and shouldn’t have to be supplemented. To put it into context, one medium orange has typically 75mg of Vitamin C. But you can also find lots of it in these foods: oranges, red bell peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries and cantaloupe melon.
You probably already associate strong bones with Vitamin D thanks to childhood commercials, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s a vital vitamin that the body creates when we’re exposed to the sun. Although we theoretically should be able to get all the Vitamin D we need from sunlight, winter months and indoor jobs leave many people deficient and needing to supplement.
It’s always best to get your vitamins from natural sources, and these foods are a great place to start: eggs, oily fish, mushrooms and fortified foods, such as some cereals.
In my opinion, Vitamin E is perhaps the most underrated vitamin, as it plays such a key role in maintaining healthy skin and eyes, plus strengthening the immune system against illness and infections. That’s down to Vitamin E’s free-radical fighting properties, which are essential for preventing the deterioration of our cells.
We only need 15mg a day, and you get great natural sources of Vitamin E from sunflower seeds, tomatoes and nuts.
Vitamin K produces proteins that help to keep your blood at optimum consistency, which is of utmost importance as your body uses its bloodstream to transport the key nutrients to your muscles and organs, and also remove waste products. Vitamin K is also known for its blood coagulation, producing naturally clever clots to prevent the body from bleeding too heavily when cut.
It’s mostly found in dark, leafy greens, particularly spinach, kale, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
Where possible, it’s best to consume your vitamins from natural food sources. The examples above should work well with your healthy eating habits, but there are of course alternative foods with smaller quantities of each vitamin if you’re adverse to some of the recommendations.
If you would like help or advice around building your healthy eating plan, my nutrition consultations are a great place to start, as we can identify any possible vitamin deficiencies and work together to create a balanced diet that works for you and your lifestyle.
We all want to eat well, but when it comes to online nutrition advice, there’s a lot of contradictory information out there. Stick to the reputable resources you can trust, like the NHS, registered dieticians and nutritional advisors for healthy food advice. And if you’re unsure of a supplement’s claims, get in touch with the manufacturer or sales rep. If their product is backed by science, they’ll be happy to share more information.