The 7 Most Important Vitamins Your Daily Diet Shouldn’t Miss
Nutritionists and health professionals agree that the secret for a healthy diet is balance. But most people focus on balancing their calorie intake, their fiber, sugar and fat consumption, but forget about one of the most important substances our body needs: vitamins. Let’s focus on these substances for a while and find out more about them.
What are vitamins
Nobel-laureate Hungarian bio-chemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi has defined vitamins as “a substance that makes you sick if you don’t eat it”. Vitamins are nutrients our bodies need to function properly, but can’t synthesize for itself, so we need to introduce them through the food we consume. These substances help our organism do its job – keep us functioning, strong and alert day after day.
The best source for vitamins
Multi-vitamin pills, you might say without thinking – and you would be wrong. Fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and organ meat are the best source for vitamins – basically the food we eat day after day. Or the food we should eat – our unbalanced diets can cause our bodies to be overloaded with some and craving for others.
Now let’s see which are the most important vitamins for our bodies.
Vitamin A – for healthy eyes
Vitamin A is essential for a series of important bodily functions. It helps keep the skin, the cornea and the membranes of the eye function properly, and it has a key role in our immune system as well.
The best source for Vitamin A is sweet potatoes, with an unusually high content of beta-carotene, a precursor of the vitamin (which is used by our body to produce it). Vitamin A is also abundant in carrots, beef liver, milk, eggs, fish and spinach.
Vitamin B6 – for immunity
The term “Vitamin B6” covers six substances with similar functions that have a very important role in helping our body defend itself against germs (by helping the production of antibodies), stabilize blood sugar levels and help form hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen).
Chickpeas are the most abundant source for Vitamin B6, but it can also be found in beef, fish and poultry meat.
Vitamin B12 – for a healthy blood
Vitamin B12 is a substance that helps the formation of red blood cells, thus guarding against anemia. Besides, it helps keep the nervous system healthy, and has a role in the formation of DNA. It is among the most important vitamins in our lives.
The most abundant source of B12 are animal products, with cooked clams having the highest concentration of the vitamin. Bad news for vegans – there are no natural sources of B12 in the plant kingdom, so you will be stuck with fortified foods with B12 coming from micro-organisms.
Vitamin C – for a strong immune system
An important antioxidant, vitamin C is also among the most versatile vitamins. It is necessary for several key functions of our bodies, including the metabolism of proteins and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. It also helps our body fight viral and bacterial invaders, thus helping the healing process in case of an infection.
While citrus fruits are generally considered the most abundant sources of Vitamin C, bell peppers are better – they have more of the substance than freshly squeezed orange juice. Other good sources include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit and cantaloupe, or even kale, mango and strawberries.
Vitamin D – for healthy bones
Vitamin D is an important ingredient for our bones. Its role is important in the absorption of calcium into our bones, but also helps with cell growth, immunity, and the reduction of inflammation. It is one of the few vitamins our body can produce itself – it is generated when we expose ourselves to sunlight. But during the winter it’s useful if we supplement our Vitamin D intake.
The best source for Vitamin D is fatty fish – salmon, swordfish and mackerel. The most abundant source for the vitamin is cod liver oil, with almost three times as much vitamin D as the next best, swordfish.
Vitamin E – for healthy blood vessels
Another powerful antioxidant, but also with an important role for our body, vitamin E is maybe the easiest to consume when you are snacky. While wheat germ oil has the biggest concentration of the substance, you can easily consume it by eating sunflower seeds or various nuts.
Vitamin K – for blood clotting
Why is clotting important for us? Well, without it every cut would bleed until we drain ourselves. Vitamin K is a key ingredient of the process, so it’s important for us to keep our body well stocked with it.
The best sources for vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, turnip, mustard and beet greens.
As you can see, vitamins are maybe the most important substances we can consume – and we should, in sufficient quantities, to make our bodies work like clockwork.