Eat These Vitamin-Rich Foods for a Healthy, Balanced Diet

vitamin d

 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat a more balanced diet, it’s important to get enough vitamins every day in order to maintain your health. Vitamins help your body grow and function optimally by boosting immunity, maintaining eye health, keeping your bones strong, raising your energy levels and much, much more.

When your body doesn’t get the vitamins it needs, however, your health can suffer and your risk of developing health issues can increase.

Getting vitamins from food vs. supplements

You may be wondering, “What about supplements? Isn’t it just easier to take a vitamin supplement every day than try to get the right daily intake of vitamins from food?”

Although supplements can have their place in a healthy diet — especially for people who suffer from vitamin deficiencies — they’re not a replacement for a varied, well-balanced diet. Whole, vitamin-rich foods supply the optimal balance of compounds that your body absorbs and uses.

6 essential vitamins and foods that contain them

All the essential vitamins work together to maintain your bodily functions and promote optimal health. However, each vitamin also has its own role in assisting the body with specific functions. Below are the main functions of six of the essential vitamins, as well as examples of good food sources for each one.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is extremely important for healthy eyesight, red blood cell production, immune function, skin health, bones and teeth. It can be found in fortified milk, organ meats, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe and apricots.

B vitamins

There are eight B vitamins — B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin and folic acid — and they have an important role in your body’s ability to create energy and release it when needed. They’re essential for proper nerve function and the formation of red blood cells, as well as a healthy metabolism, brain function, heart function and hormone production.

B vitamins can be found in meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, seafood and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is especially important when your body is under stress because it helps maintain a healthy immune system and repair damage. It also works as a disease-fighting antioxidant that keeps your cells healthy, improves your body’s iron absorption and promotes teeth and gum health.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, orange juice, kiwis, guavas, papayas, strawberries, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and dark leafy greens.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is critical for the bone health, calcium absorption and proper immune system function. It can be found in milk, eggs, shiitake mushrooms and some seafood, including salmon, trout and oysters.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. It also works with the B vitamins to create red blood cells and helps your body use vitamin K and repair muscle cells.

Foods that contain vitamin E include bell peppers, asparagus, sunflower seeds, almonds and dark leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential to forming blood clots, and without it, a person could bleed to death from a small cut. It also helps maintain bone health. Foods containing vitamin K include dark leafy greens, asparagus, parsley, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Eating a well-balanced diet full of whole foods is the best way to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function at its optimal level. Incorporate a variety of the foods listed above into your daily diet — your body will thank you!


Which vitamins and minerals does your body need?

vitamins and minerals

We all know that one of the most important parts of any weight loss program is diet. Eating healthy, whole foods in the right amounts is crucial to weight loss.

It’s very important to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly and stay healthy. Below are the top vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is extremely important to the health of your eyes, as well as red blood cell production, immune function, skin health and embryonic development.

Vitamin A can be found in fortified milk, organ meats, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and carrots.

B vitamins

B vitamins include B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin and folic acid. These vitamins play a critical role in your body’s ability to create and release energy. B vitamins are also responsible for creating red blood cells, which allow oxygen to move throughout your body.

B vitamins can be found in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, seafood and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is particularly important when your body is under stress, including the type of stress that can often come with dieting: food deprivation, calorie reduction and cravings. Vitamin C helps your body maintain a healthy immune system and correct any damage done to your body by stress. It also works as a disease-fighting antioxidant that keeps your cells healthy.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruit, orange juice, kiwis, guavas, red and green peppers, cabbage and tomatoes.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps maintain the tissues in your body, such as your liver, skin and eyes. It also prevents the pollution in the air from causing damage to your lungs and works with the B vitamins to create red blood cells.

Vitamin E can be found in egg yolks, sardines, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, almonds, peanut butter and some oils.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for bone health. As a matter of fact, 99 percent of its role is to keep your bones and teeth strong, supporting skeletal structure and function. Calcium is also important for cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function.

Calcium can be found in dairy products, dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale) and some fish (like sardines, salmon and rainbow trout).

Magnesium

Magnesium helps develop and maintain bones, maintain normal nerve and muscle function, support a healthy immune system and maintain a steady heartbeat. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein.

Magnesium can be found in nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, milk, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, halibut and other fish.

Potassium

Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, reduce the effects of salt and maintain regular digestive and muscular functioning. It may also reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and possibly decrease bone loss.

Potassium can be found in tomato paste and puree, white beans, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, soybeans, bananas, potatoes and fish (such as flounder, sardines, cod and salmon).

Regardless of what type of diet you’re following, be sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals every day to avoid deficiency and keep your body healthy and functioning at its best.

If your specific diet doesn’t allow some of the food sources mentioned for a specific vitamin or mineral, talk about taking supplements with your doctor.


Are you getting enough vitamin B12?

vitamin b12

Remember when your mother told you to take your vitamins? Well, she was both wrong and right.

She was wrong because it’s actually best to get your daily vitamins by eating a nutritious diet. Nutritionists agree that vitamins are the most effective when we get them naturally through food.

But your mother was also right, because while a healthy diet is the best way to consume vitamins, most people can’t eat a perfectly healthy diet 100 percent of the time. That’s where vitamin supplements come in.

Today, we’re talking about vitamin B12. What is B12, and do you need to take B12 supplements? Here’s what you need to know.

What is vitamin B12?

The body needs vitamin B12 to perform many important functions. B12 is used to make red blood cells, nerves and DNA.

B12 is found naturally in animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. When you eat these foods, your stomach breaks down protein, releasing B12, which is then absorbed by your small intestine.

Why do some people not get enough vitamin B12?

For healthy adults, the recommended daily minimum of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms.

People who tend to be deficient in vitamin B12 include people who are age 50 or older, people who have gastrointestinal disorders, people who are strict vegans and people who take medication for ulcers and gastric reflux.

Stomach enzymes play an essential role in helping your body absorb B12. Medical conditions that interfere with the release of those enzymes can cause vitamin deficiency.

What conditions can vitamin B12 deficiency lead to?

If you are vitamin B12-deficient, you may develop the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Soreness of the mouth and tongue
  • Constipation
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Dizziness, light-headedness
  • Poor memory and confusion

It’s important to identify and fix B12 deficiency early. Otherwise, it can lead to severe neurological problems and blood diseases.

What can you do if you think you’re vitamin B12-deficient?

If you think you’re vitamin B12-deficient, be sure to talk to your doctor to find out if you really do have a deficiency.

After speaking with your doctor, you can take steps to boost your B12 levels, including taking B12 supplements, eating fortified foods (such as breakfast cereals and soy products), using fortified toothpaste and, if you’ve had weight loss surgery, taking B12 injections.

Eating a nutritious diet of lean proteins, complex carbs and fruits and veggies is the best way to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform at its best.

Vitamin B12 is one of the important nutrients your body needs to work properly. If you think you may be B12 deficient, take action by making an appointment with your doctor.


Healthy, On-The-Go Summer Snacks

healthy summer snacksSummertime means long days packed with activities that will have you constantly on the go. Whether you’re shuttling kids back and forth to camp or planning full-on family road trip, it’s a safe bet that you’ll clock more than a few hours behind the wheel this summer.

But should more car time mean more fast food? Absolutely not. Instead, stock your ride with healthy, non-perishable items that can stand up to the Texas heat. Eating low-calorie snacks packed with nutrients and fiber will help you maintain your healthy eating habits throughout the season.

If you crave a salty crunch, potato chips are likely your biggest snack temptation. Do yourself a favor and keep them out of reach when you’re on the go. Instead, keep a few well-portioned baggies of nuts in your car or purse this summer. Nuts contain protein, fiber, nutrients and healthy fats to keep you feeling full longer. Unlike the empty calories you’ll find in a bag of Lay’s, a small handful of pistachios, walnuts or almonds provides plenty of vitamins and nutrients to fuel your summer fun. Plus, this satisfying treat has the wherewithal to stand up to a few hot afternoons in the car.

Granola offers a semi-sweet, satisfying crunch without the added sugar and calories of a few cookies. With heart-healthy whole grains and protein to keep you lean, granola is an easy snack to toss in the car without any worries about melting. Granola bars can also do the trick if you stick to brands with limited additives.

Many brands of organic fruit snacks offer a low-calorie treat made with real fruit juices. Our favorite? Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks are naturally gluten-free, vegan treats packaged in individually wrapped portions for easy storage and snacking. Better yet, reach for dried fruits that keep well in hot weather, like banana chips or dried mango.

There’s always a way to eat healthy, even in the busiest (and hottest) of months. With a little forethought, you’ll avoid wasting time, money and calories on unhealthy foods if you’ve got other convenient snacks within reach.