The ABCs of Vitamins & Their Food Sources

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

          Here’s an listing of all vitamins: their functions, food sources, the amount you need to maintain your health and also what the deficiency can do to you health.

 

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Function – Helps metabolism of carbohydrate into energy.  Body functions: cofactors and activators for energy metabolism and nervous system function and muscle contraction.

Food Sources – Brown rice, legumes, peanuts, wheat germ, whole grains, pork, poultry, fish, egg yolks, broccoli, asparagus.

DRI/day – Females: 1.1 mg  Males: 1.2 mg  UL/day – none established  Toxicity – None known

Deficiency – heart disease, confusion, anorexia, calf pain, weakness.

 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Function – Necessary for energy release and for healthy skin, mucous membranes, and nervous system. Body functions: cofactors and activators for energy metabolism and nervous system function and muscle contraction.

Food Sources – cheese, egg yolks, fish, legumes, meat, milk, poultry, spinach, whole grains, yogurt, asparagus, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, nuts, avocados.

DRI/day – Females: 1.1 mg  Males: 1.3 mg  UL/day None establish  Toxicity: None known

Deficiency – Fatigue, weakness, crackers and dry skin at corners of mouth, nose and eyes, bright light sensitivity, inflamed tongue.

 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Function – Helps metabolism of food into energy, necessary for growth and production of hormones. Body functions cofactors and activators for energy metabolism and nervous system function and muscle contraction,

Food Sources – Brewer’s yeast, broccoli, carrots, cheese, eggs, fish, milk, nuts especially peanuts, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat germ and whole wheat products.

DRI/day – Females: 14 mg.  Males: 16 mg.  UL/day – Females/males: 35 mg.

Toxicity – Hepatitis and gastric ulcers; flushing, tingling and burning sensation of extremeties.

Deficiency – Weakness, lethargy, anorexia, dementia, skin rash.

 

Vitamin B6

Function – Necessary for synthesis and breakdown of amino acids, aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Body functions cofactors and activators for energy metabolism and nervous system function and muscle contraction, hemoglobin synthesis, and immune function.

Food Sources – Brewer’s yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, wheat germ, brown rice, beans, bananas, broccoli.

DRI/day – Females: 1.3 – 1.5 mg. Males: 1.3 – 1.7 mg.  UL/day –Females and males: 100 mg.

Toxicity – Loss of sensation in the limbs, loss of balance and coordination.

Deficiency – Muscle weakness, depression, nausea, depressed immune system, mouth sores, convulsions.

 

Folic Acid

Function – Necessary for production of blood cells and healthy nervous system. Body functions nervous system function and muscle contraction, and hemoglobin synthesis.

Food Sources – Asparagus, barley, beef, bran, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cheese, chicken, dates, green leafy vegetables, legumes, lentils, liver, milk, mushrooms, oranges, pork, salmon, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains.

DRI/day – Females and males: 400 mcg. UL/day – Females and males: 1000 mcg. Toxicity: None.

Deficiency – Neural tube defects, megaloblastic anemia.

 

Biotin

Function – Necessary for metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Body functions cofactors and activators for energy metabolism.

Food Sources – Brewer’s yeast, cooked egg yolks, meat, milk, poultry, saltwater fish, soybeans, whole grains.

DRI/day – Females and males: 30 mcg. UL/day – Not established. Toxicity – Unknown.

Deficiency – Rare but can include depression, dermatitis, anorexia, muscle pain.

 

Pantothenic Acid

Function – Necessary for metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Body functions cofactors and activators for energy metabolism.

Food Sources – Avocados, beef brewer’s yeast, eggs, fresh vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, pork, liver, lobster, saltwater fish, whole rye flour, whole wheat.

DRI/day – Females and males: 5 mg. UL/day – Not established. Toxicity – Unknown.

Deficiency – Unknown.

 

Vitamin B12

Function – Necessary for the synthesis of red and white blood cells, aids in metabolism of food. Body functions nervous system function and muscle contraction, and hemoglobin synthesis.

Food Sources – Meats, brewer’s yeast, clams, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, milk, dairy products, seafood.

DRI/day – Females and males: 2.4 mcg. UL/day – not established. Toxicity – Unknown.

Deficiency – Pernicious anemia, weakness.

 

Vitamin C

Function – Necessary for healthy connective tissue, bones, teeth and cartilage, supports a healthy immune system. Body functions immune function and antioxidant function.

Food Sources – Berries, citrus fruit, green vegetables, avocados, cantaloupe, mangoes, peppers, pineapples, radishes.

DRI/day – Females: 75 mg. Males: 90 mg. UL/day – Females and males: 2000 mg.

Toxicity – Increased risk of kidney stones.

Deficiency – Rare but can include deterioration of muscles and tendons, bleeding gums (scurvy).

 

Vitamin A

Function – Necessary for healthy eyes, skin, and the linings of the digestive, urinary tract and the nose. Body functions immune function and antioxidant function.

Food Sources – Green and yellow vegetables, dried apricots, garlic, and fortified foods.

DRI/day – Females: 700 mcg. Males: 900 mcg.  UL/day – Females and males: 3000 mcg.

Toxicity – Liver damage, bone malformation.

Deficiency – Headache, vomiting, night blindness, dry skin, irritability, dry skin, irritability, increased risk of infection.

 

Vitamin D

Function – Necessary for calcium and phosphorus metabolism and for healthy bones and teeth. Body function bone metabolism.

Food Sources – Fish liver oils, fatty saltwater fish like mackerel and salmon, dairy products, eggs, shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms, oatmeal, sardines, tuna. Sunlight also a good source of non-food Vitamin D.

DRI/day – Females and males: 5 mcg.              UL/day – 50 mcg.

Toxicity – Nausea, loss of muscle function, diarrhea, organ damage.

Deficiency – Osteomalacia, increased risk of stress fractures, and osteoporosis.

 

Vitamin E

Function – Necessary for nourishing and strengthening cells, functions as an antioxidant.  Body functions immune function and antioxidant function.

Food Sources – Avocados, vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts like almonds, safflower, sunflower, seeds, whole grains, brown rice, eggs, milk, sweet potatoes.

DRI/day – Females and males: 15 mg.  UL/day – Females & males: 1000 mg. Toxicity – Unknown.

Deficiency – Rare.

 

Vitamin K

Function – Necessary for blood clotting. Body function bone metabolism.

Food Sources – Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chicken, dark green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, leaf lettuce, oatmeal, soybeans, wheat, yogurt.

DRI/day – Females: 90 mcg. Males: 120 mcg.  UL/day – None. Toxicity – Unknown.

Deficiency – Rare.

 


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 12 grandchildren.    

 

 

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