How Do Vitamins Work? Part Two

Vitamin-Rich FoodsMeet Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A is mostly found in sweet potatoes, milk, eggs, liver, leafy greens, and carrots. Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, mucus membranes, and skin.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin after exposure to the sun. You can also get some by eating fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.

Vitamin E is found in a wide variety of foods including: wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, broccoli, and kiwi fruit. Vitamin E plays a role in making red blood cells and helps the body use vitamin K.

Vitamin K is present in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and mustard greens. It’s also found in avocados and kiwi fruit. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting.

Meet Water-Soluble Vitamins

Thiamine (vitamin B1) is found in yeast, pork, cereal grains, liver, and eggs. Thiamine plays a role in using carbohydrates for energy, and also is essential for heart and nerve function.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is present in dairy products, lean meats, leafy greens, legumes, and eggs. Riboflavin is important for producing red blood cells and plays a role in growth.

Niacin (vitamin B3) is found in poultry, fish, pork, peanuts, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and peas. Niacin helps maintain skin and nerves and also lowers cholesterol levels.

Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is found in chickpeas, fish, whole grains, potatoes, and nuts. It helps with red blood cells and brain function.

Biotin (vitamin B7) is in peanuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, and eggs. It is essential for metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and also for hormones and cholesterol.

Folic acid is present in leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and citrus fruit. Folic acid works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells and is essential for DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function.

Vitamin B12 is found in fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy products. It helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.

Vitamin C is found in broccoli, citrus, spinach, strawberries, and tomatoes. It’s key for healthy teeth and gums, it helps the body absorb iron, and it promotes wound healing.

By Lynn Grieger RDN, CDE, CPT, CWC


The Discovery of the vitamins. Richard D. Semba. Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res., 82 (5), 2012, 310 – 315

What are vitamins? What vitamins do I need? Medical News Today. updated 2-10-14. Accessed 7-25-14

Vitamin C. Medline Plus. updated 2-18-13. Accessed 7-26-14.

Symptoms of Scurvy. National Health Services. last reviewed 1-24-13. Accessed 7-26-14.

Vitamins. Medline Plus. updated 2-18-13. Accessed 7-27-14.

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