The 13 Vitamins: Functions and Sources

Vitamin AHelps maintain teeth, bone, soft tissue, mucous membrane, and skin healthLiver and fish oils, milk, eggs, leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables (e.g., canteloupe, carrots, squash), tomatoes, broccoli, fortified cereals
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)Helps convert carbohydrates into energy, involved in heart function and formation of nerve cellsDried milk, egg, enriched bread and flour, meat, egumes (e.g., dried beans), nuts and seeds, organ meat (e.g., kidney, liver), peas, whole grains
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)Involved in body growth and production of red blood cellsEggs, organ meats (e.g., kidney, liver); meat; milk; green vegetables (e.g., asparagus, broccoli, spinach); fortified cereals, breads, and grain products
Vitamin B3 (niacin)Required for healthy skin and nervesAvocado, eggs, enriched breads and fortified cereals, fish (e.g., tuna, salt-water fish), meat, legumes, nuts, potato, poultry
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)Needed for metabolism of food, plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterolAvocado; cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, kale), eggs, legumes and lentils, milk, mushroom, organ meat, poultry, white and sweet potato, whole-grain cereal
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)Helps form red blood cells, helps maintain the central nervous system (CNS), works with protein in many chemical reactions in the bodyAvocado, banana, legumes (e.g. dried beans), meat, nuts, poultry, whole grains
Vitamin B7 (biotin)Needed for metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates and in the production of hormones and cholesterolChocolate, cereal, egg yolk, legumes, milk, nuts, organ meats (e.g., liver, kidney), pork, yeast
Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)Works with B12 to form red blood cells; needed for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function (particularly important during fetal growth)Asparagus; broccoli; beets; brewer’s yeast; dried beans (e.g., cooked pinto, navy, kidney, lima); fortified cereals; green, leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, romaine lettuce); lentils; oranges and orange juice; peanut butter; wheat germ
Vitamin B12Important for metabolism, helps form red blood cells and maintain healthy CNS functioningMeat, eggs, fortified foods (e.g., soymilk), milk and milk products, organ meats (e.g., liver, kidney), poultry, shellfish NOTE: Animal sources of vitamin B12 are absorbed much better by the body than plant sources.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)An antioxidant, helps maintain teeth and gum health, helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue, essential for wound healingBroccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, citrus fruits, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and tomato juice
Vitamin DHelps the body absorb calcium and maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorusMade by the body after sun exposure; can be found in fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, herring, orange roughy); cod fish liver oil; fortified cereals, milk, and dairy products
NOTE: It is very hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone
Vitamin E (tocopherol)An antioxident, helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin KAvocado, dark green vegetables (e.g., spinach, broccoli, asparagus, turnip greens); safflower, corn, and sunflower oils; papaya; mango; seeds and nuts; wheat germ and wheat germ oil
Vitamin KNeeded for blood coagulation, might play role in bone healthCabbage, cauliflower, cereals, dark green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus), dark leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens); fish; liver; beef; eggs
NOTE: The best way to get all the daily vitamins you need is to eat a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fortified dairy foods, legumes (dried beans), lentils, and whole grains; however, if your diet does not supply you with enough vitamin, dietary supplements can be helpful, particularly during pregnancy and for special medical problems. Ask your doctor if dietary supplements are right for you.
SOURCE: WebMD site. Food sources of vitamins and minerals. Accessed 16 Oct 2020.

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