Vitamins are substances found in the food you eat that are necessary for keeping you healthy. Your body needs 13 vitamins, including A, D, E, K, C and the B vitamins (biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12). Each vitamin has a different role in making your body work properly. Eating a well-balanced diet should supply you with all the vitamins you need.
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Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant in your body by protecting your cells from damage while also playing a role in your vision, immune system, bone growth, reproduction and cell functions. Animal sources of vitamin A include liver and whole milk. Several fruits and vegetables provide an excellent source for vitamin A, including leafy green vegetables such as spinach; collards and turnips; tomato products; orange and yellow vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin; cantaloupe and mangoes; and some vegetable oils.
Vitamin D is vital for bone growth, nerves and muscle function and your immune system. Egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, fortified milk and cereal are all good sources of vitamin D.
Another vitamin that acts as an antioxidant by protecting your cells is vitamin E. Vitamin E also plays a role in maintaining your immune system and metabolic processes. Foods containing vitamin E are margarine, vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables and fortified cereals.
For your blood to clot, you need vitamin K. Vitamin K also aids in the making of proteins for healthy tissues and bones. You can find vitamin K in berries and green vegetables. Kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, parsley, broccoli and brussels sprouts each provide more 200 micrograms per serving.
Vitamin C, also an antioxidant, is crucial for healthy bones, skin and connective tissue. The best foods to provide vitamin C are citrus such as oranges and grapefruit, red and green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and greens. Other foods containing vitamin C include juices, fortified cereals, strawberries, cantaloupe and baked potatoes.
The B vitamins are essential for turning the food you eat into energy that your body can use. They are also key in helping to form red blood cells. Foods containing proteins -- including poultry, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs -- are typically the best sources of B vitamins. Fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, peas and beans also contain B vitamins.