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Vitamins and Health

 Just how important are vitamins for your family’s health?

We all know we need vitamins.  We have been told, and tell our kids, to eat up that broccoli and choose the whole wheat bread.  Getting the proper amount of daily vitamins is important for good health as vitamins and health are closely related. We know the types of vitamins and minerals out there – we see them listed on food labels all the time.  But did you know which vitamins help bolster the immune system?  Or which ones may help eliminate migraines?  Here is a handy list of Vitamins:

Vitamin Types - Vitamins

Vitamin A can help you build your immune system to better fight off infections.  It may also help your vision, including night vision.  Vitamin A, also called Retinol, is important for teeth and bones.
What foods have Vitamin A?  You can get it from fish, eggs, oil, liver, and fortified dairy products.
Recommended Daily Intake: 65-3000mg/RAE/day
What happens if you don’t get enough?  You may experience worse vision – especially at night, or dry eyes and skin.  You can’t fight infection off as well.  For children, it can also mean less growth as they are developing .
There are several types of Vitamin B.  Some are know by other names as well.  Here they are:

Vitamin B1/Thiamine (B complex) Thiamine is important for the nervous system to function properly.  It also helps muscles, including your heart, function properly.  The body needs thiamine for growth and development. Thiamine also helps your body metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

What foods have vitamin B1/Thiamine?  You can get it from meats, beans, nuts, whole grains and enriched cereals and breads.

Recommended Daily Intake: .07-100mg/day
What happens if you don’t get enough? You could feel tired, depressed, or nauseous.  You could get headaches or muscle cramps. 

Vitamin B2/Riboflavin is needed for normal cell function and growth.  It helps red blood cells and tissues form.  Riboflavin helps with nervous system functioning and may help with migraine headaches.  B2 helps the body metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and makes energy (metabolic processes).

What foods have vitamin B2/Riboflavin?  Milk and dairy products; green leafy vegetables, whole grains and organ meats.

Recommended Daily Intake: .08-100mg/day

What happens if you don’t get enough?  You can feel weak and tired.  Your body can’t metabolize vitamins like B6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin K well.  Other problems linked to deficiencies of B2 include oral lesions, cracks and sores.

Vitamin B3/ Niacin is necessary for normal growth and development.  It helps produce energy and regulates your genes.
What foods have vitamin B3/Niacin?  There are 2 types of Niacin – nicotinic acid which mainly comes from plants, like legumes and yeast, and Niacinamide which mainly comes from animal sources like red meat and poultry.

Recommended Daily Intake: 1-500mg/day
What happens if you don’t get enough?  Over time you can have gastrointestinal disorders and dermatitis.  You could also get diarrhoea or mouth sores.

Vitamin B6 helps the body make proteins and produce insulin, haemoglobin and antibodies to fight infection.  B6 helps your body metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Your nervous and immune systems need B6 to function properly.  B6 helps to make red blood cells and tissue.

What foods have vitamin B6?   It is found in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits (except for citrus), starchy vegetables (peas, white potatoes, etc.) and fortified cereals.

Recommended Daily Intake: 10-100mg/day

What happens if you don’t get enough?  A lack of Vitamin B6 can lead to seizures, convulsions and depression.  You can also get skin inflammation (dermatitis), anaemia or nausea.

Vitamin B9/ Folic Acid/Folate is important for growth and development.  It helps your digestive intestinal track work well and stay healthy.  It helps your body form red blood cells and metabolize proteins.  Pregnant women need adequate amounts of folic acid to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects and defects of the brain and spine.    

What foods have vitamin B9?  You can find it in dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and organ meats.

Recommended Daily Intake: 30-199mcg/day

What happens if you don’t get enough?  You could have problems with your intestinal tract, diarrhoea, or anaemia.  A deficiency of B9 can lead to impaired cell division and protein synthesis, which affects rapidly growing tissues.  It is important for moms-to-be and nursing mothers to have 400 mcg/day of folic acid.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the nervous system to work properly. It is needed for the production of energy.  It also works with folate(B9) (another essential) to build important genetic material for DNA and RNA synthesis.  It may also relieve systems of chronic fatigue. 
What foods have vitamin B12?  Eggs, dairy products, clams, oysters, crabs, salmon, sardines, and organ meats like liver, kidney, and brain.

Recommended Daily Intake:  14-1000mcg/day

What happens if you don’t get enough?  You can feel weak, tired or get anaemia.  Your body needs Vitamin B12 to metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You could feel a soreness of the tongue.  Deficiencies can lead to neurological disease.

Vitamin C is important for your teeth and gums.  It also helps your immune system as it is know for its antioxidant properties.  Vitamin C may help prevent some cancers and coronary heart disease or other chronic degenerative disorders. It is important for your tissue and joint health, bones, cartilage and tendons.  Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, metabolize fats and proteins.

What foods have vitamin C?  Foods like citrus fruits, green vegetables, strawberries, peppers, potatoes, and cauliflower.

Recommended Daily Intake: 6-2000mg/day
What happens if you don’t get enough?  Wounds may heal slower; you could have increased bruising, bone bruising, skin haemorrhaging or joint pain.  You may also feel weak or fatigued, or have a loss of appetite.  In cases of severe Vitamin C deficiency, it could lead to scurvy with inflamed, bleeding gums and loose teeth.

Vitamin D is very important for bone mineralization, skeletal development and teeth.  It helps your body absorb and regulate calcium.
What foods have vitamin D?  Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fatty fish, liver, and fortified dairy products.

Recommended Daily Intake32-1000IU/day

What happens if you don’t get enough Vitamin D?  Your body can’t absorb calcium and phosphorus as well, and you may develop problems with accelerated osteoporosis, osteomalacia, or rickets. Vitamin D may help you regulate moods and diminish depression that is associated with seasonality.

Vitamin E is important to keep your skin, muscles, and nerves healthy.  It is an antioxidant that protects the cells and helps to neutralize potentially damaging free radicals in your body.  Vitamin E boosts your immune system.  It is necessary for building red blood cells, tissue and muscle.
What foods have vitamin D?  Foods like corn, whole grain cereals, vegetable oil, soya bean and wheat germ.

Recommended Daily Intake1-179mg AT/day (1mg = 1.49IU)

What happens if you don’t get enough?  A deficiency of Vitamin E can cause neurological abnormalities or anaemia.  You might get more infections without it.

Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and helps maintain bones.
What foods have vitamin K?  Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, liver, help seeds and fish meal.

Recommended Daily Intake:  6-120mcg/day

What happens if you don’t get enough?   A deficiency of Vitamin K has been associated with bone fractures due to low bone density.  You could also bruise easier. Vitamin K helps clot blood (stop the bleeding) when you get injured.

A good multi-vitamin is part of a complete health regime.  As a busy parent, it is not always possible to eat right or get all the vitamins you need.  You can choose the best vitamin for you based on your age, your health (pregnant, low bone density, on a diet, etc.), or your level of activity. Get in the habit of taking it at the same time everyday.
If your kids do not like swallowing pills (who does?) try getting the chewable gummy vitamins Lil Critters Gummy Vites Multi Vitamin and Mineral Formula-220 Ct, 25 ounces Bottle or other kid friendly brands.  If you would like your kids to learn more about vitamins and minerals, have them check out a kid-friendly version of this chart in the food section.

vitamin a