Vitamins: What They Do and Where To Find Them

    So, I talk a lot about the importance of getting and being able to absorb lots of vitamins and minerals.  But how do you know what vitamins and minerals are really beneficial for you personally?  Hopefully this guide will help you.  

    Vitamin A: Vitamin A" is the term for retinoids, biologically active compounds that occur naturally in both plant and animal tissues. The vitamin A that comes from animal sources is fat-soluble, and in the form of retinoic acid, retinal and retinol. Because these retinoids are very bioavailable and stored in our tissues, too much animal-derived vitamin A can build up in the body and become toxic.
    The vitamin A in fruits and vegetables is in the form of  "provitamin A" -vitamin A precursors also known as  carotenoids, which must be converted by the human body into usable retinoids. The body can make all the vitamin A it needs from these plant-derived carotenoids. They are water-soluble and do not accumulate in the body, so toxicity is rare.
Vitamin A plays a vital role in bone growth, reproduction and immune system health, helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses, is essential to healthy vision, and may slow declining retinal function in people with retinitis pigmentosa.
    Foods high in Vitamin A include beef liver, dairy products, carrots, spinach, kale, butternut squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.

    Vitamin B1: Thiamin, is necessary to help the body maximizes the use of carbohydrates, and is essential for the proper functioning of heart, nervous system and muscle coordination.  Thiamin also breaks down sugars in the body.
    Foods high in Thiamin include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and other nuts.

    Vitamin B2: Riboflavin aids in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism, is necessary for  healthy eyes, hair, skin, and nails, fights free radicals in the body and is essential to converting B6 and folate into usable forms in the body.
    Riboflavin is found in milk, liver, eggs, wheat germ, mushrooms, yogurt, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach and almonds.  This means if you are following a no meat, no dairy diet you may need a daily Riboflavin supplement.

    Vitamin B3: Niacin is required to metabolise fat, carbohydrates, and proteins, aids in brain function, supports the nervous system, liver, hair, skin, and eyes.  It improves circulation and suppresses inflammation.
Niacin also helps the body produce hormones, including pleasure hormones.  Due to this function, there has been studies proving that increasing a person's daily Niacin intake can help fight depression and addictions, by producing adrenal hormones necessary to fight stress and open dopamine receptors.  
Niacin is found in beets, beef liver and kidney, salmon, tuna, swordfish, chicken, barley, rice, sunflower seeds, nuts and peanuts.  In supplements it is commonly listed as Niacinamide and Inositol hexaniacinate.

Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid is essential for metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and protein, making fatty acids and hormones, manufacturing red blood cells, digestive tract health, aids in the utilization of other B vitamins and synthesizes cholesterol.  
Pantothenic acid is found in a wide variety of unprocessed foods, and key sources are cauliflower, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, legumes, lentils, egg yolks, beef (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney), turkey, duck, chicken, milk, split peas, peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, lobster, wheat germ, and salmon.

Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is an umbrella term for 6 compounds: pyridoxine, an alcohol; pyridoxal, an aldehyde; and pyridoxamine, which contains an amino group; and their respective 5'-phosphate esters: Pyridoxal 5' phosphate (PLP) and pyridoxamine 5' phosphate (PMP)
Pyridoxine supports your immune system, aids in the breakdown of fats, is essential to metabolise carbohydrates and amino acids, maintains the health of lymph nodes, helps to regulate blood glucose levels and aids in red blood cell production.   
In its coenzyme form (PLP and PMP)nit is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions and plays a role in cognitive development.
Pyridoxine is commonly found in organ meats, beef, walnuts, brown rice, legumes, sunflower seeds, fish, and bananas.

    Vitamin B9: Folate works with B12 to protect and develop the brain and nervous system, production of RNA and DNA, and is essential to liver health, cardiovascular support, red blood cell production, reproductive health, fights blood diseases and cancers.
    Folate is present in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, turnip, bok choy, parsley, romaine lettuce, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, and beets.  Other sources include legumes, lentils, papayas, strawberries, and nuts.

    Vitamin B12: Cobalamin, or folic acid, helps to preserve neurological function, DNA synthesis, plays a key role in the health of red blood cells and nervous system.  Anemia sufferers have a difficult time absorbing B12.
    Folic acid is found in mussels, oysters, eggs, oily fish, crab, beef and beef organs, milk, and yogurt.  If you follow a no meat, no dairy diet a daily B12 supplement is highly recommended.

    Biotin: Biotin is an enzyme classified as a B Vitamin but also referred to in some circles as Vitamin H.  It is essential for energy production through metabolism, healthy skin and hair, nerves, digestive tract and cell health. Biotin may also help to treat some types of nerve pathology, such as the peripheral neuropathy that can result from kidney failure or diabetes. As a supplement, biotin is sometimes used for diabetes, brittle nails, and other conditions.
    Biotin is found in wheat germ, eggs, dairy products, organ meats, peanuts, nuts, legumes, soya nuts, swiss chard, salmon, and chicken.

    Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infections and scavenges harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals, helps to prevent respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer, has been shown to lower blood pressure, and therefore lessen the probability of hypertension, aids in collagen production, is necessary for healthy skin, bones, cartilage, teeth, and blood vessels, promotes healing and aids in iron absorption.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, guava, red chilies, broccoli, capsicum, spinach, kale, cauliflower, kiwi, and papaya.

    Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption which promotes healthy bones and teeth, modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation.
    Vitamin D is found in very few foods such as fatty fish, dairy, sunflower seeds, and egg yolks.  The most common source is of course, sunshine.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E, or alpha-tocopherol, is an antioxidant that aids healing, prevents scarring, keeps nerves and red blood cells healthy, and protects cell membranes.
Vitamin E in alpha-tocopherol form is found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables.

    Vitamin K: Vitamin K, an umbrella term for vitamins K1, K2, and K3, promotes blood clotting, bone health, and is antioxidant.
    K vitamins are found in fermented foods, cabbage, milk, liver, herbs and spices, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, kiwi, blueberries, prunes, grapes, soybeans, miso, eggs, free range chicken, grass-fed beef/dairy product, grass-fed lamb, shrimp, sardines, tuna, and salmon.

Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. This means they are processed through the lymph nodes and are stored in the bodies fat, and can potentially become toxic overtime.