Your VITAMIN CHEAT SHEET

Your VITAMIN CHEAT SHEET

Without further ado, here’s your vitamin cheat sheet:

Vitamin A 

Fat-soluble
aka beta carotene, retinal, retinol

What it does: “This vitamin plays an essential role in immune health, development and reproduction, and eye health,” Serena says. 

Plant-based sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, leafy greens, parsley, basil  

Animal sources: fish oils, milk, eggs

Vitamin B1 

Water-soluble
aka thiamin or thiamine

What it does: “Vitamin B1 supports cell function, energy production, protein synthesis, and the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Proper thiamine levels are also essential to the function of the nervous system,” Serena says. 

Plant-based sources: brown rice, barley, beans, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, almonds

Animal sources: porks, eggs, liver

Vitamin B2 

Water-soluble
aka riboflavin

What it does: “This nutrient plays a role in energy production, cell growth, and the metabolism of fat, drugs, and steroids. Riboflavin also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and since it supports medication metabolism, it may help decrease the toxicity of certain medications,” Serena says. 

Plant-based sources: mushrooms (especially shiitake), quinoa, leafy greens, beans, lentils, avocado

Animal sources: eggs, chicken breast, dairy products

Vitamin B12

Water-soluble
aka cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin

What it does: “Vitamin B12 is important for red blood cell production and nervous system health, but this nutrient is notoriously hard to come by if you eat a plant-based diet. If you don’t find yourself eating these foods very often, you may want to consider a B12 supplement,” Serena says. 

Plant-based sources: fortified nutritional yeast, fortified cereal 

Animal sources: eggs, clams, oysters, dairy products, meat

Vitamin C 

Water-soluble
aka ascorbic acid

What it does: “A powerful antioxidant, this water-soluble vitamin protects the body from oxidative stress, improves the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods, supports collagen production (which is important for both skin elasticity and the health of your connective tissues), protects against UV rays, and may decrease the length and severity of a cold

Plant-based sources: citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, guava, papaya, mango, tomatoes, parsley, thyme

Animal sources: fruits and veggies are the best sources

Vitamin D3 

Fat-soluble
aka cholecalciferol

What it does: “Vitamin D3 is really important for calcium absorption, bone health, and fighting inflammation and boosting immune function,” Serena says. “However, many people don’t get enough. Vitamin D is created by your body in response to the sun, so it’s no wonder that people may be deficient, especially during the winter months or in areas that are cloudy for most of the year. Vitamin D supplements are those that I recommend almost all populations take (but check with your practitioner for specific recommendations, especially if you have a diagnosed condition or take medication).”

Plant-based sources: fortified plant-milks, mushrooms

Animal sources: egg yolks, trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel 

Vitamin E

Fat-soluble
aka tocopherol

What it does: “Another important antioxidant, vitamin E is known to support the anti-inflammatory and immune processes, helping your body fend off disease. This nutrient also supports immune health by protecting your T-cells as they replicate,” Serena says. 

Plant-based sources: almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, olives, olive oil, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, avocado, wheat germ, brown rice, butternut squash, fortified cereal 

Animal sources: fruits and veggies are the best sources

Vitamin K1

Fat-soluble
aka phylloquinone

What it does: “This vitamin is an important nutrient for bone health,” Serena says. “Vitamin K1 plays an essential role in blood clotting and is predominantly found in plant-based food.” 

Plant-based sources: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, parsley, cilantro, basil, scallions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, edamame, okra 

Animal sources: fruits and veggies are the best sources

Vitamin K2

Fat-soluble
aka menaquinone

What it does: Like vitamin K1, K2 is important for bone health. “Vitamin K2 is specifically known to support calcium absorption,” Serena says. 

Plant-based sources: fermented foods, like natto, sauerkraut, and miso, some plant-based cheeses

Animal sources: fruits and veggies are the best sources

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