Nutrition: Great Foods for Getting Vitamins A to K in Your Diet
Vitamins and minerals are as essential for living as air and water. Not only do they keep your body healthy and functional, but they also protect you from a variety of diseases.
Vitamins and minerals get thrown together, but they are quite different. Vitamins are organic substances produced by plants or animals. They often are called “essential” because they are not synthesized in the body (except for vitamin D) and therefore must come from food.
Minerals are inorganic elements that originate from rocks, soil, or water. However, you can absorb them indirectly from the environment or an animal that has eaten a particular plant.
You are what you eat
The foods you eat do more than fill your belly — they also give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. What you eat can affect how you feel today as well as how you feel years from now.
Some foods can deplete your energy, impair your digestive system, and raise your risk of health problems. Other foods fuel your body’s natural disease-fighting abilities. Click through the slideshow to learn about high-vitamin foods that can help you get the nutrition you need.
Vitamins ## Foods high in vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in maintaining vision, body growth, immune function and reproductive health.
Getting adequate amounts of vitamin A from your diet should prevent the symptoms of deficiency, which include hair loss, skin problems, dry eyes, night blindness and increased susceptibility to infections.
Deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in developing countries. In contrast, most people in developed countries get enough vitamin A from their diet.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. It helps your body form healthy teeth, bones, soft tissues, and skin. It can also help you ward off bacterial and viral infections, prevent night blindness, and keep your hair and nails healthy.
Foods that are particularly high in vitamin A include:
- sweet potatoes
- winter squash
- spinach, kale, and collard greens
Some spices are also high in vitamin A, including paprika, red pepper, cayenne, and chili powder.
Vitamins ## Foods high in vitamin B
Vitamins B-6, B-12, and B-9 are essential for proper nerve function, the synthesis of DNA, and the formation of red blood cells in your body. They also help maintain your brain function, prevent anemia, and support metabolism.
Foods that are particularly high in vitamins B-6 and B-12 include:
- meat, poultry, and fish
- seafood, including mussels and oysters
Foods that are particularly high in B-9, or folic acid, include leafy green vegetables and poultry. Some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, and other products are fortified with folic acid.
Some top sources of B vitamins include meat (especially liver), seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, legumes, leafy greens, seeds and fortified foods, such as breakfast cereal and nutritional yeast.
If you restrict your intake from some food groups due to allergies or diet, your chances of B vitamin deficiencies may increase.
Vitamins ## Foods high in vitamin C
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the health of your cells. It improves your body’s iron absorption. It’s also important for promoting healthy teeth and gums, healing wounds, and helping you resist infection.
Foods that are particularly high in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
- bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- dark leafy greens, such as kale, mustard greens, and chard
Vitamins ## Foods high in vitamin D
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin. On top of absorbing it from the foods you eat, your body can also synthesize it from sunlight. It’s critical for the health of your bones and immune system, as well as calcium absorption. According to the National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source, it may also help lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Though sunshine is by far the richest source of vitamin D, foods that also provide vitamin D include:
- some seafood, such as salmon, herring, catfish, trout, and oysters
- shiitake mushrooms
Vitamins ## Foods high in vitamin E
Vitamin E is a group of powerful antioxidants that protect your cells from oxidative stress. Adequate vitamin E levels are essential for the body to function normally.
If you don’t get enough, you may become more prone to infections, experience impaired eyesight or suffer from muscle weakness.
Fortunately, vitamin E is widespread in foods. As a result, you are unlikely to become deficient unless your nutrient absorption is impaired.
Nevertheless, everyone should try to eat plenty of whole foods rich in vitamin E.
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It helps protects your cells from damage. It also helps your body use vitamin K and repair muscle cells.
Foods that are particularly high in vitamin E include:
- sunflower seeds and almonds
- spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip greens
- bell peppers
Vitamins ## Foods high in vitamin K
Vitamin K is critical for your body’s formation of blood clots. Without it, you could bleed to death from a simple cut. It may also help maintain bone strength in older adults.
Foods that are particularly high in vitamin K include:
- kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and mustard greens
- romaine lettuce
- Brussels sprouts
Stock up on vitamin-rich foods
It may be tempting to turn to supplements to get your fill of vitamins. But according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, popping a pill is no substitute for a well-balanced diet. To get the nutrients you need, stock up on high-vitamin foods that are known to pack a nutritious punch.
If you suspect you may be missing crucial nutrients in your diet, talk to your doctor or dietitian. They may recommend changes to your eating habits. They may also encourage you to add a supplement to your daily routine.
Put your healthy eating plan into action
Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seafood are rich sources of many vitamins. Incorporate a variety of them into your daily diet for optimum health and wellness.
If you want lots of nutrients without many calories, the most obvious strategy is to take dietary supplements.
However, supplements can hardly replace a healthy diet. A better way to get all the nutrients you need is to fill your meals with nutrient-dense foods