If your parents made a point of reminding you to eat your vegetables when you were a kid, they weren't just trying to ruin your day. Vegetables -- and many other types of foods -- are packed with vitamins that can keep your body functioning properly. Adequate consumption of vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C and E can prevent a multitude of diseases.
Consuming vitamin A provides a host of health benefits, including strengthening your eyes, immune system and production of red blood cells. On average, adults should get 700 to 900 micrograms of this vitamin per day. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and kale are high in vitamin A, as are fruits such as pumpkin and cantaloupe. Half a cup of baked sweet potato, for example, contains 961 micrograms of vitamin A. The same serving size of canned pumpkin has 953 micrograms of the vitamin.
B vitamins include a long list of nutrients, including not only B-12 but also B-6, B-9 and B-1 through 3. Vitamin B-6 contributes to the function of your hormonal and nervous systems, vitamin B-12 aids the health of your nerves and blood cells, and vitamin B-9 plays a role in brain function. Your recommended dietary allowance varies according to the specific B vitamin; adults should get 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B-6, for example. In general, food sources of B vitamins include animal products such as meat, eggs and milk. Leafy greens are also a source of B vitamins. A 3-ounce serving of wild salmon has about 0.5 milligram of vitamin B-6. Shellfish is extremely high in vitamin B-12; a 3-ounce serving of steamed clams has 84 micrograms of vitamin B-12.
Vitamin C has many functions inside your body, including acting as an antioxidant to keep your cells healthy. Adults should have 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily. Vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits and juices, are packed with this vitamin. Examples include oranges and grapefruits and their juices; strawberries; kiwis; red pepper; and broccoli. A 6-ounce serving of orange juice can contain as many as 93 milligrams of vitamin C, while 1 cup of whole strawberries provides 85 milligrams of vitamin C.
Vitamin E consists of a family of antioxidants that contribute to cell health and can help prevent disease. Per day, adults should get 15 milligrams of vitamin E. This vitamin is common in foods such as oils and nuts. Oil from olives, soybean, corn, canola, safflower and sunflower provides a source of the vitamin's alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol antioxidants. Almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts are also a valuable source of these two antioxidants. One ounce of almonds, for example, has 7.4 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol. A tablespoon of soybean oil has 8.7 milligrams of gamma-tocopherol.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamins
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin B6
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin B12
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B12
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
- MedlinePlus: B Vitamins