As some of you know I’m taking courses in nutrition. The area I’m learning about now is vitamins and it’s truly amazing how much I didn’t know. We’ve all heard since we were kids that you should get your vitamins but it wasn’t until now that I am truly starting to understand what that means and I’m going to add taking my mulit-vitamin in my daily must do list, just like brushing my teeth.
So what are vitamins anyway? The ones we should be getting the most of are actually found in food, not just in tablet form like I always thought – ha ha. They are considered a class of complex organic compounds and there are a total of 13 of them. If we don’t get enough in our diet or by supplementation we could experience some serious deficiencies and if we take in too much it can be toxic. I know this is deep but stick with me.
Now, I’m sure many of you have heard that there are fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. For today’s post I’m going to talk about fat-soluble. I’ll save water-soluble for next time.
There are 4 fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Let’s break this down a bit:
We need this vitamin to maintain the cells in and covering the outside of the body, bone development and our immune system. It’s also important for night and peripheral vision. You can find it in liver, butter, cheese, egg yolks, fish liver oils and fortified milk. Thankfully for those people who don’t eat animal products there is an active form of vitamin A called retinol and our bodies are able to form it into beta-carotene. This can be found in dark-green leafy veggies, yellow-orange veggies, oranges, limes, pineapples, prunes and cantaloupe. The recommended intake for adults is approximately 700 micrograms.
I have discussed this vitamin before in a previous post so I won’t say too much about it. Just keep in mind that it’s very important for you to get outside into the sun for 15 minutes a day without sunscreen to get the required level. Once your time is up make sure to get that sunscreen on. To get the best results expose your face, neck and chest. Now, if you live in an area were the sun isn’t shining everyday you can get vitamin D from a few food sources. For those who eat animal products it’s found in eggs, tuna and salmon. It’s also found in fortified milk, margarine and breakfast cereals. The recommended intake for adults is approximately 5 micrograms.
It’s main role is to be an antioxidant in our cell membranes. This is very exciting isn’t it? Now, you can find it in polyunsaturated veggie oils, margarine, green leafy veggies, fortified cereals, whole-grain products, wheat germ and eggs. The recommended intake for adults is approximately 15 micrograms.
This guy is very important in being able to help clot our blood sometimes being called the blood coagulation vitamin. It’s found in both animals and plants such as pork, liver, eggs, spinach and cauliflower. The recommended intake for adults is approximately 90/mg.
So, there it is, a very quick lesson about fat-soluble vitamins. Again, there is a lot more to learn about them but hopefully it gives you a bit better idea of what they do for you and your body and where to find them in food. And if you feel you’re not getting enough in your diet make sure you’re taking a multi-vitamin. For information about how much you should be getting in your diet visit Health Canada and check out the food guide.