Vitamins not only make you beautiful, but they also ensure that your body functions properly. There is said to have been a time, when people were supposed to have taken their vitamins exclusively through food. Not so today, because the shelves are full of all sorts of vitamin preparations and dietary supplements, even gummy bears, which are supposed to provide our bodies with all the important content. What’s the point of eating?!
You are joking aside. Vitamins are vital. Nevertheless, we quickly lose track when attributing their function to specific vitamins. It is not that difficult to find your way through the vitamin jungle and set up your diet so that all vitamins are consumed in sufficient quantities. The reward for the effort is visible very quickly: we stay fit and look fresh and lively.
A balanced diet provides our body with all the elements that our body urgently needs to function correctly. We only need the supplements described above if we suffer from a diagnosed deficiency. On the other hand, an overdose can have adverse effects on the body.
So that you know exactly how to get the essential vitamins and what their purpose is, we have put together an overview for you here.
Vitamins: The Big Difference – Water Or Fat?
First of all, you should know that there is a distinction between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. All vitamins can be assigned to one of these two groups. The body can store fat-soluble vitamins for a certain amount of time so that you can eat yourself a vitamin cushion. On the other hand, you should supply your body with water-soluble vitamins every day, as these are quickly excreted. The water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the entire range of B vitamins. The group of fat-soluble vitamins contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. You’ve probably already noticed that the world of vitamins is colourful and a large part of our alphabet has to be used for naming.
Vitamin A – The Radical Scavenger
Anyone familiar with the world of beauty has probably heard of retinol. Applying it to the skin, the magic elixir reduces wrinkles and ensures a radiant complexion. This is nothing more than vitamin A. It is actively involved in our body in functions such as vision, growth, reproduction, the immune system, and protection against free radicals and the structure of the skin. This vitamin is primarily found in animal foods such as eggs, liver, and cheese. But the critical vitamin is also found in plants, namely in carrots, lamb’s lettuce, peppers, kale, and mangoes.
How Much Vitamin A?
Our body cannot produce vitamin A itself. Therefore, we must consume it in sufficiently high doses through a balanced diet. Incidentally, the body absorbs the required vitamin A best in connection with fat.
The valuable provitamin A (also beta-carotene), on the other hand, can be absorbed by the body without fat. Our body can also produce provitamin A from the substance beta-carotene, which is found in many types of fruit and vegetables.
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends women need around 0.8 mg retinol equivalent, pregnant women 1.1 mg, and breastfeeding mums 1.5 mg. You can achieve this, for example, with 140 g spinach per day or a medium-sized carrot (80 g).
The B Vitamins – Versatile Helpers
If we follow the ABC further, we will discover vitamin B directly. There are quite a lot of them, eight in all, and they all have different tasks: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12.
The effects of the B vitamins are just as varied as the names they are given:
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) provides energy and strengthens nerve and heart muscle tissue. It is mainly found in whole grain products and pork and legumes. The EDGE recommends oatmeal (30 g per day), one pork chop (125 g) with 140 g peas, or two large potatoes.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) stimulates the metabolism, promotes a baby’s growth, and supports the development of nerves. The best way to get this is through dairy products and fish.
Vitamin B3 (niacin), in turn, supports nutrient utilisation and cell division. Among other things, this protects our skin from external influences and helps to reduce redness and irritation. The extra kick of vitamin B3 is available with meat, fish, whole grain products, and coffee. With 200 g of chicken breast or a portion of chanterelles (14 g) and a fillet of beef (200 g), you will reach the daily recommended dose.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is involved in breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. For example, it ensures that moisture can be stored in the skin and our complexion looks nice and fresh. It is contained, for example, in eggs, offal, legumes, meat, and nuts. A dish of mushrooms (140 g), fillet of beef (200 g), and a chicken egg cover your daily requirement.
Vitamin B7 (biotin), also called vitamin H, supports the formation of critical fatty acids and the breakdown of amino acids and provides energy. You can find good sources of this energizer in eggs, nuts, milk, and legumes, as well as offal. 140 g mushrooms with 14 g spinach and an egg provide you with the necessary daily ration.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) strengthens the immune system, supports protein and fat metabolism, and promotes the messenger substances for the nervous system. In addition, it influences hormonal balance. Vitamin B6 is mainly found in meat, fish, whole grains, bananas, and legumes. For example, you can get your daily dose from a dish with chicken breast (125 g), lamb’s lettuce (50 g), walnuts (40 g), and one banana.
Vitamin B9, better known as folic acid, is particularly important for pregnant women and non-pregnant women. The vitamin is involved, among other things, in cell division and development, in the formation of DNA, and protein and fat metabolism.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps with blood and cell formation and supports the absorption of folic acid. In addition, vitamin B 12 is involved in the breakdown of fatty acids. The vitamin is mainly contained in animal products, so vegans, in particular, should take the vital substance through dietary supplements to prevent a deficiency. You reach your daily requirement with 150 g tuna or a fillet of beef (200 g).
A Balanced Diet Is Critical!
By now, you’ve probably noticed that the suggested foods all have one thing in common – they provide a lot of vitamin B and other critical vital substances that are described here. Therefore, it is even more important to know a balanced diet.
Vitamin C – The Fitness Booster
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is by far the best-known vitamin. Together with vitamin E, it serves the body as a radical scavenger and strengthens our immune system. Our skin also benefits from this critical vitamin: It and the connective tissue are maintained if you take a sufficiently high dose of the vitamin. Our skin is tightened and looks young and fresh.
Unlike most animals, humans have lost the ability to produce vitamin C throughout evolution and must obtain it through food. In this sense, it is essential to eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible: The vitamin C content is exceptionally high in sea buckthorn, currants, peppers, parsley, broccoli, kiwi, and cabbage. A kiwi a day covers your daily requirement.
Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D (calciferol) is an exceptional vitamin: we do not primarily ingest it through food, unlike other vitamins. It is formed by exposure to the sun on our skin. It is essential for building and also keeping our bones healthy. In addition, it improves the absorption of calcium.
Especially in winter, when the days are getting shorter, and we don’t dare to go outside as often, you should make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. A diet that includes fish – especially salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna – and sufficient outdoor exercise can ensure a sufficiently high supply. 150 g of halibut, salmon, or mackerel provides you with enough vitamin D.
Vitamin E – The Anti-Aging Vitamin
Vitamin E (tocopherols) does a lot for our health and beauty by protecting us from the influence of free radicals. These free radicals play a crucial role in the ageing of our skin and the development of diseases. The antioxidant can best perform its function for our body if other essential vitamins such as vitamin A and C, which have a similar effect, are taken in at the same time. Vitamin E is mainly found in vegetable oils and cheese, nuts, eggs, and spinach.
Vitamin K – Strong Bones
Even if the letter K does not stand for bones, one could think so with the positive effect of vitamin K (phylloquinone): It plays an essential role in building bones and keeping them healthy. However, the K stands for coagulation, which means clotting and indicates another effect of the vitamin: blood clotting is supported by this vitamin.
Like vitamins A, D, and E, it is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin K is found in many vegetables such as cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, kale, beans, and lettuce. But meat, especially beef, and pork liver, is also a good source of vitamin K.