A List of Vitamins & Their Uses

Smiling woman with carrot
Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get enough vitamins. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Your body needs vitamins to operate at its optimal level. Two distinct kinds of vitamins exist: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins consist of vitamins A, E, D and K, while water-soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C. All these vitamins perform particular jobs in your body and benefit your health in a multitude of ways. You can meet your daily vitamin requirements by eating a well-balanced diet.

Vitamin A

Mature woman reading milk label in supermarket, side view, close-up
Milk is fortified with vitamin A. (Image: Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Vitamin A helps maintain good eyesight and support normal growth of cells. It plays a vital role in the development of the fetus and embryo. By maintaining adequate intakes of vitamin A, you can keep your teeth, bones, skin and mucus membranes in good health. This fat-soluble vitamin plays an important role in wound healing, immune system function, reproduction, and bone formation and growth. Excellent sources of vitamin A include orange fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, liver and milk fortified with vitamin A.

Vitamin B Complex

Fresh peas
Peas contain Vitamin B. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Vitamin B complex is comprised of eight vitamins, which include B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-12 and folate, or B-9. These vitamins help your body produce the energy it needs to function better. The B vitamins assist your body in the formation of red blood cells, which supply oxygen to body tissues. Foods that contain relevant amounts of B vitamins include beans, peas, eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry and fish.

Vitamin C

Close-up of doctor bandaging child's arm
Your body needs vitamin C for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth and for healing wounds. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects your body against the effects of free radicals, unstable molecules that damage your DNA and may enhance the aging process and the development of health issues such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C is responsible for the growth and repair of body tissues. Your body needs vitamin C for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth and for healing wounds. The vitamin helps make collagen, an important protein which is the key structural component of tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, skin and ligaments. Foods such as cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, green peppers, watermelon, papaya and Brussels sprouts contain respectable amounts of this important vitamin.

Vitamin D

Plate of seafood and salad
Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon, fish liver oil and fortified foods. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Evidence suggests that getting enough vitamin D may reduce your risk of certain cancers, particularly of the pancreas, breast, prostate, colon and skin, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin D and calcium work together to build and maintain strong bones. It provides protection from osteomalacia, the softening of bones in adults, and rickets. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon, fish liver oil and fortified foods. You can get a fairly respectable amount of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin E

The antioxidant properties of vitamin E protect your body from free radical damage. Vitamin E helps boost your immune system, enabling it to battle bacterial and viral infections. It helps your body use vitamin K, the blood-clotting vitamin. This fat-soluble vitamin also contributes to the formation of red blood cells. Eating foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, seeds, vegetable oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables can help you get the recommended amounts of vitamin E.

Vitamin K

Cauliflower and broccoli
Broccoli contains Vitamin K. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Your body stores vitamin K in the liver and fat tissue. Vitamin K plays an important role in helping blood clot properly. It also helps your body use calcium to build bone. Evidence shows that this essential nutrient encourages the development of healthy bones and decreases risk of bone fractures, states the UMMC website. Foods that provide generous amounts of vitamin K include dark green lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, green tea, turnip greens, beef liver, green tea and kale.

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