These days, it seems like we are always turning to science to give us the answers to our problems. When it comes to nutrition, the answer is often a vitamin supplement. But do we really need them?
As it happens, vitamins and minerals are plentiful in a balanced diet. By eating the right foods to get a complete range of nutrients, you may be able to give up those daily tablets after all. A natural vitamin is best.
Vitamin A - It's at the beginning of the alphabet so why not start there. Also known as retinol, vitamin A affects your vision, skin, bone growth, immune system and reproductive functions. It's easy to find in a variety of foods; just remember to think yellow! Good sources of natural vitamin A include carrots, mango, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and the decidedly un-yellow broccoli.
Vitamin B1 - This is more commonly known as thiamin. Your body uses it to control metabolism and ensure your nerves function properly. There are a wide range of foods containing this vital nutrient, including spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, pork and soy milk. Even the pickiest eater will find something that provides them with their daily dose of natural vitamin B1.
Vitamin B2 - You may know it as riboflavin. This one also works on your metabolism and promotes good vision and healthy skin. Some of the best sources for this natural vitamin are spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters and clams.
Vitamin B3 - This is sometimes called niacin, and it's also important for your metabolism, nervous system and immune system. You can find this natural vitamin in foods like spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna, liver and shrimp.
Vitamin B6 - This is a key nutrient to keep your blood cells healthy. To get more of it into your diet, try some of these natural vitamin sources: bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice and chicken breast.
Vitamin B12 - This natural vitamin is used when your body makes new cells, and also helps to keep your nervous system working properly. You can get it from eating animal products like meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk and eggs. If you don't eat animal products, you will probably need a vitamin supplement to make sure that you're getting enough of this vital nutrient.
Vitamin C - When cold and flu season strikes, it is time to load up on this immune system builder. Vitamin C also plays lesser-known role in helping your body to absorb iron. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for stocking up on it are spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, black currants, kiwi fruits, mangos, oranges, grapefruits and strawberries.
Vitamin D - This one helps your body to absorb calcium, and may also play a role in maintaining strong muscles. While we can produce this vitamin ourselves by exposing our skin to sunlight, many people don't make enough of it that way. Try supplementing your natural vitamin production with fortified milk, fatty fish, egg yolks and liver.
Vitamin E - It's an antioxidant, so this natural vitamin helps to keep us from ageing too quickly. It also protects your cell membranes. You can find Vitamin E in polyunsaturated plant oils such as soybean, corn and canola oils, and also in wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp and cod.
Vitamin K - You need this one to help your blood to clot. To make sure you're getting enough, eat lots of Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and liver.
The whole vitamin alphabet is important to keep you healthy and happy. Make sure that you eat a wide variety of vitamin-rich foods so that all of your nutritional needs are covered.
If you just can't manage to get certain nutrients into your diet, there are supplements available. However, a well-balanced diet should provide you will everything you need for your body's nutrition.
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