Eat Your Vitamins: Plant-Based Food Sources for Essential Vitamins
There are many ways to supplement our diet with vitamins, herbs and superfoods, but the best place to get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals is on your plate.
The best natural sources of vitamins and minerals come from food itself: eating a rainbow of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains will ensure that you are getting ample amounts of vital nutrients to build and maintain a healthy body. This helpful infographic from Adrien Gagnon* shows us the best sources of essential vitamins and minerals.
1. B Vitamins
B vitamins include a variety of vitamins under the same class, which you’ve probably seen on nutrition labels. Here is the list of the various B vitamins:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinic acid)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (various cobalamins; commonly cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin in vitamin supplements)
These vitamins are found in foods across the plant kingdom, including white potatoes, chilies, beans, bananas, molasses and (our personal favorite), nutritional yeast, which is loaded with B12. While the B vitamin class generally works to keep our cells functioning at their best (and can help give us a boost in the bedroom too!), each B vitamin offers our body a different benefit. Check out this chart from Wikipedia to learn about the functions of the various B vitamins.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans, which means that our bodies cannot make it and it must be obtained from food– and it’s easily found in nature’s bounty. It’s important for enzymatic reactions, healing from wounds, and acts as an antioxidant to prevent stress damage to our cells. While citrus fruits are often thought to be the best sources, there are some other contenders for best foods for Vitamin C. Two of the most unique fruits on the list include camu camu and kakadu plum, both of which contain 20-40 times the amount of Vitamin C found in lemons! Check out this chart on Wikipedia to see how your favorite food stacks up. Big surprises include parsley, chili pepper, broccoli and Brussels sprouts!
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin, as it comes from your skin when exposed to sunshine. Sunshine vitamin D and supplemental vitamin D are inactive, and must be converted in the liver and kidney through various chemical processes. Vitamin D is important for ensuring absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. We’ve written before that everyone should be sure to get enough vitamin D because it is critical to bone health. Calcium is in the spotlight as the bone vitamin, but our body actually needs a balance of calcium with adequate vitamin D and magnesium for truly healthy bones.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another very important vitamin that can be obtained from food sources very easily. Some of the foods that have the highest Vitamin E content include corn oil, soybean oil, margarine, and dressings for the γ-Tocopherol variant, and wheat germ oil, sunflower, and safflower oils for the α-tocopherol variant, which is the most biologically active form of vitamin E. Vitamin E is helpful for healthy skin, it’s a strong antioxidant, and plays a role in brain functioning. Almonds, avocado and plant-based oils are the best ways to get Vitamin E into your diet. It’s also great to use topically on your skin to help heal wounds and deeply moisturize.
Thanks to AdrienGagnon.com for sponsoring this post.