Sunday, January 15, 2012

ABCs of Vitamins

Vitamins are an essential part of being healthy and each different vitamin plays a different role in maintaining health in the body. Find out what each does for you.

Vitamin A – Essential for maintaining the health and repair of your skin, boosting your immune system, and fighting disease. It helps to clear acne and rosacea, heals lung tissue, and is best absorbed through your diet. Vitamin A is also fantastic for your vision, so when your mom said you should eat more carrots to see better—she was right! Find it in: cantaloupe, carrots, cod-liver oil, Kale, sweet potatoes and yams

Vitamin B1 - B vitamins are essential for your heart and nervous system, and beans and seeds are an excellent source. B1 is crucial for proper cardiac function and nerve conductivity, so you don’t feel jittery and have a healthy heart. Thousands of people are diagnosed with heart failure each year, but the reality is they actually have a thiamin deficiency. Find it in: black beans, navy beans, peas, sunflower seeds and tuna

Vitamin B2 - It protects your cells from oxidative damage—which is what happens when free radicals attack your cells—so it’s essential to maintain the health of your skin. It also maintains your supply of other B vitamins. A way to know you're deficient in B2 is if you have cracked skin at the corners of your mouth and peeling skin around your nose. Find it in: calf's liver, mushrooms, spinach, venison, and yogurt.

Vitamin B3 - Easily absorbed through food and it lowers cholesterol, helps your body process fats and converts carbohydrates into energy—making it the ideal nutrient for someone looking to prevent or treat coronary artery disease. It also improves circulation and blood flow, is used to treat acne, and prevents fine lines and wrinkles. Find it in: asparagus, calf's liver, halibut, mushrooms, salmon, tuna, turkey and venison.

Vitamin B5 - Helps to produce healthy fats in your cells, turning them into usable energy which you burn throughout the day. A great way to absorb the right amount is by eating lots of green leafy vegetables. If you have any fatigue, weakness, or numbness and tingling in your toes, you're probably deficient in B5. Find it in: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms.

Vitamin B6 – This vitamin detoxifies homocysteine from the blood— which is an amino acid that is linked to cardiovascular disease. A supplement is the best way to ensure you get the best amount, so take a B-complex with an additional 50mg of B6 per day. Find it in: bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, summer squash and turnip greens

Vitamin B7 - Essential to break down carbohydrates, fats, and protein in the body, which ultimately reduces blood sugar levels and improves cholesterol. It also promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails by producing skin-moisturizing fats and encouraging cell growth—benefits that all occur by including foods B7-rich into your diet. Find it in: avocado, broccoli, brown rice, butter, cashews, calf's liver, eggs, meats and nuts.

Vitamin B9 - B9 is responsible for cell division and cell growth. But if you’re pregnant, be careful! A B9 deficiency will leave you anemic, and in pregnant women a B9 deficiency can lead to neural tube defects—an opening of the spinal cord or brain which occurs in early human development. This vitamin’s best absorbed via a supplement, so make sure you take 800 micrograms per day for optimal health in addition to the foods below. Find it in: liver, dried herbs, sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, chick peas and asparagus

Vitamin B12 - B12 is a key player in regulating your nervous system, and low amounts can severely affect your mood. If you’re feeling sad or depressed, test your B12 levels. It’s best to get your B12 through your diet, but if you’re extremely deficient, your doctor can give you a shot. Find it in: cheese, eggs, milk and shellfish.

Vitamin C - A detoxifier, and one of the most popular—and well known—vitamins. Humans can’t manufacture C, so you have to absorb it via supplements or through food. It’s an immune booster, helps to manufacture collagen, and can protect you from cancer! Find it in: bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, citrus like oranges and grapefruit, kiwi fruits, papaya and strawberries.

Vitamin D – It is actually a hormone, which is created when direct sunlight hits your skin. Unfortunately you can’t absorb it while you’re wearing sunscreen, so most dermatologists recommend taking your daily D in a supplement form as well as getting a small dosage from specific foods. Without it you can feel depressed, gain weight, and develop insomnia. Find it in: cod-liver oil, sardines and wild alaskan salmon.

Vitamin E - Wonderful source of antioxidants—as all vitamins are—that wards off free radicals. Nuts are a great way to get your fill, and pecans have more antioxidants than any other nut! E protects us from aging, supports immune function, heart health, colon health, breast health, and alleviates hot flashes during menopause. Find it in: almonds, butter from grass-fed cows, eggs, meats, peanuts, pecans, poultry, walnuts and vegetables oils.

Vitamin K - Kale is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting, builds bones, and protects the heart. It can also help diminish dark under-eye circles, and reduces the appearance of redness from rosacea and broken capillaries. Find it in: beet greens, brussels sprouts, collards, kale, spinach and turnip.

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