Your Guide to the Best Vitamin Food Sources

Foods are the best source of vitamins, which are nutrients needed for body functions like growth and nerve function. Your body can’t make most of them, so you have to get them from supplements or food. But food is a better source because it contains a variety of other nutrients your body needs, such as minerals and phytochemicals, which may protect you from diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

For example, an orange provides vitamin C and the precursor chemical for vitamin A, plus various phytochemicals. Studies show diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduction in heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best food sources include broccoli, almonds, red beans, spinach and salmon because they contain minerals and phytochemicals in addition to vitamins.

Vitamin-Packed Fruits

Cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges and kiwis are good sources of vitamin C, an important antioxidant.  Antioxidants help protect the cells of the body from damage. Carrots and mangoes are rich in vitamin A. Watermelon is a significant source of B1, or thiamin, while bananas are a good source of vitamin B6. Avocado packs vitamin E and B vitamins thiamin and folate, but watch out for the calories. One cup has more than 200 calories.

Vitamins and Vegetables 

Sweet potatoes provide several vitamins. The yellow-orange tuber is rich in vitamin A and also contains vitamins B6, folate, C and E. Spinach provides most of the B vitamins, plus vitamins C and K. Broccoli packs in vitamins C, A, K, and the B vitamins B2, B6 and folate. Green peas are a good source of thiamin, while potatoes and tomato juice provide niacin, or B3. Potatoes also provide vitamin B6. Other sources of folate are green beans, tomato juice and asparagus. Other vegetable sources of vitamin C are red bell peppers and snow peas. Tomato juice also provides vitamin A, as do butternut squash and pumpkin. Brussels sprouts and cabbage are other sources of vitamin K.

Meat, Seafood and Fish

But some vitamins aren’t found in plants. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products. Significant sources include milk, eggs, meat, poultry and shellfish. Good vitamin D sources include egg yolk, liver and fatty fish. Shrimp provide vitamins E and niacin. Tuna canned in water is another niacin source. Lean ham and pork chops provide thiamin. Oysters and clams are sources of riboflavin. Just four ounces of either roasted light meat turkey or snapper provides about half a day’s requirement for B6. Salmon provides B6, thiamin and riboflavin, as well as some vitamin E. Brown rice and whole wheat macaroni are a source of both thiamin and B6.

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