Your Complete Vitamin Guide: A to K

This is your guide to thirteen of the vitamins crucial for maintaining the human body. There are six major vitamins in this group, including vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Vitamin B is further divided into eight types that make up the 'B-complex' of vitamins:
  • B-1 – Thiamine
  • B-2 – Riboflavin
  • B-3 – Niacin
  • B-5 – Pantothenic acid
  • B-6 – Pyridoxine
  • B-7 – Biotin
  • B-9 – Folate/Folic Acid
  • B-12 – Cobalamin

One trait that all of these supplements share is having a defined range of intake for achieving the best effects. Recommended daily amounts are measured in micrograms (mcg) and milligrams (mg). One thousand micrograms are equal to one milligram. The human body is supported best by maintaining levels of vitamins within their ideal parameters. Too little of any of these vitamins can impact health negatively, but too much can be toxic in some cases.

Vitamin A – Retinol


Health Benefits

This vitamin provides natural exfoliation for the skin and improves vision. It’s also an antioxidant that gives the body immune support. Vitamin A is actually a complex of active molecules. One of its benefits is helping cells specialize to perform important jobs, like promoting a healthy pregnancy.

Recommended Daily Requirements

The daily suggested dose of vitamin A is 0.6 mg for women and 0.7 mg for men.

Sources

Orange and yellow vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes provide beta-carotene that can be converted to vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A is also found in apricots, broccoli, leafy green vegetables like spinach, and red peppers. Meat and dairy sources include oily fish, shrimp, eggs, liver, and full-fat dairy products.

vitamin-a-health-benefits-superfood

Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid


Health Benefits

This is another coenzyme catalyst and antioxidant, and it provides support to germ-fighting white blood cells. A powerhouse for immune health, vitamin C is a preventative for colds and other infections. It’s vital for maintaining the health of all of your body’s cells, including those in skin, blood and bone. Vitamin C supports connective tissues in the body and plays a role in collagen production.

Recommended Daily Requirements

The daily suggested dose of vitamin C is 40 mg.

Sources

Fruits and vegetables are the main foods this vitamin can be found in, especially citrus fruits. Broccoli, oranges, bell peppers, kiwi, sprouts and strawberries are all excellent sources of Vitamin C.

vitamin c health benefits citrus oranges

Vitamin D – Calciferol


Health Benefits

Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphate in your body. This has a major impact on bones and teeth and it helps stabilize blood pressure. The vitamin has also been identified as a component of improved energy level and mood, and it's part of the body’s arsenal of infection-fighting tools.

Recommended Daily Requirements

The daily suggested dose of vitamin D is 10-15 mcg.

Sources

Egg yolks, liver, oily fish and lean red meat are good dietary sources of vitamin D. Milk, yogurt and orange juice are often fortified with it as well. The sun’s rays interact with our skin as one source of the vitamin, and supplements are often prescribed for people who live in areas that get inadequate sun.

vitamin-d-health-benefits-fish-oil

Vitamin E – Tocopherol


Health Benefits

Another antioxidant vitamin that provides immune support, vitamin E protects the eyes, skin and hair, and it has a role in maintaining healthy blood vessels. It’s not just a 'helper' for enzymes, but it also operates on its own to neutralize free radicals and repair cell membranes.

Recommended Daily Requirements

The daily suggested dose of vitamin E is 15-19 mg, but many people get less than this.

Sources

Vitamin E is present in plant oils like the ones found in nuts, seeds and wheat germ, and it can also be found in blackberries, broccoli and green vegetables.

vitamin-e-health-benefits-nuts

Vitamin K – Phylloquinone


Health Benefits

Linked to strong bones and an important component of wound healing, vitamin K also assists in the clotting capability of blood and has a role in protein activation. The vitamin maintains strength and solidity in bones by replacing lost calcium. Because of its clotting capability, too much vitamin K can interfere with blood thinner medications.

Recommended Daily Requirements

The daily suggested dose of vitamin K is 1 mcg for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.

Sources

Leafy green vegetables, oils and grains provide vitamin K, and it can be found in smaller quantities in meat and dairy products.

vitamin-k-health-benefits-leafy-greens

Vitamin B Complex

This isn't just one vitamin, but eight variations that, together, provide an incredible amount of support to the human body. Because they're found in so many different kinds of foods, the best way to ensure you're getting enough B-complex vitamins is to eat a wide spectrum of whole foods. Seafood and dark green leafy vegetables contain many of the B-complex vitamins, and bread, pasta, and rice are fortified with folate. In the list below, RDA refers to the recommended daily allowance for each vitamin.
  • B-1-Thiamine (RDA 1.5 mg) – converting food to energy; can reverse kidney damage
  • B-2-Riboflavin (RDA 1.7 mg) – metabolism; treatment for migraines
  • B-3-Niacin (RDA 20 mg) – treatment of high cholesterol and heart disease
  • B-5-Pantothenic acid (RDA 10 mg) – component of anti-stress hormones
  • B-6-Pyridoxine (RDA 2 mg) – treatment of heart disease, PMS and acne
  • B-7-Biotin (RDA 300 mcg) – maintenance of blood glucose levels; strengthens hair and nails
  • B-9-Folate/Folic Acid (RDA 400 mcg) – treatment for anemia; prevents birth defects
  • B-12-Cobalamin (RDA 6 mcg) – metabolism; formation of red blood cells; energy levels

vitamin-b-complex-b12-fish-health-benefits

Fat and Water Solubility

Vitamins are either fat or water soluble. The two vitamins in the A-K group that are water soluble are vitamins B and C. It's hard to get too much of them since the excess is eliminated by the kidneys. It's important to eat foods that contain these two vitamins daily and take supplements if necessary.

Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are stored in the liver and in fat deposits in the body. They're absorbed better when ingested with healthy fats like those found in olives and avocados. It's possible to take in too much of these vitamins via supplements, so check with your physician before taking vitamins A, D, E and K.

Getting Vitamins from Food

Taking a multivitamin that contains the minimum suggested dosage of these essential vitamins is an effective way to make sure you get enough of each. However, the goal should be to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible through the food you eat. There are several reasons this method is so highly recommended by nutritionists:

1. Vitamins that are present in foods often include other compounds that help with absorption in the gut.
2. These companion ingredients can also allow vitamins to be used more effectively by your body’s cells.
3. Fruits, vegetables, grains and meats don’t just contain one vitamin or mineral but usually include a spectrum of essential nutrients.
4. Some foods are packed with so many important vitamins and health-giving ingredients that they fall into a category called 'superfoods'.

Beauty Applications of Vitamins A-K


Vitamin A

Retinol is another word for a form of vitamin A, and it encourages the production of collagen, the connective tissue 'cushion' beneath your skin. This can keep skin from wrinkling as deeply while it reverses damage caused by the UV rays of the sun. Beta-carotene is a plant-based precursor to vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables. Your metabolism converts it to vitamin A, giving your skin the oxidative support it needs to combat free radicals.

Retinol is a natural exfoliant, causing your skin to shed dead layers of cells. It’s also a very small molecule, and that allows it to penetrate the skin and help restore elasticity. However, it can cause red and irritated skin in some people, and it makes skin more sensitive to sunlight. To avoid irritation, it’s best to apply retinol lotion or serum at night before bed, and no more than twice a week.

Vitamin C

You may have noticed a lot of promotional material about vitamin C in beauty magazines and online cosmetic blogs. That’s because of its role in collagen production. It works to counteract wrinkles by stimulating the production of new cells to replace damaged collagen.

Using a vitamin C serum puts the vitamin right where it’s needed to reduce facial lines, and the companion products in a high-quality serum increase its effectiveness. Since collagen is a protein-based connective tissue, it plumps the skin and can minimize the appearance of fine lines on the face.

Vitamin D

The infection-fighting properties of vitamin D are useful in combatting acne. It’s also part of the complex of vitamins that actively eliminate the free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the skin. A deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to acne and psoriasis because it supports cell division and renewal and boosts the skin’s immunity to pathogens.

Because vitamin D is stored in body fat and the liver, it's best to seek medical advice before using supplements. Taking too much of it can lead to kidney stones and can even be toxic.

Vitamin E

This vitamin is part of the free-radical-fighting spectrum of supplements, and it's an antioxidant that promotes healthy skin. Vitamin E also protects skin from damaging ultraviolet rays, especially in combination with vitamin C. That's why many vitamin C serums include vitamin E as one of the ingredients. If you have dry skin, a moisturizer with vitamin E oil in it gives you these extra skin healing properties.

Vitamin K

The wound healing properties of Vitamin K can help if you have acne. Facial lotion containing the vitamin can also accelerate the healing of bruises and scratches. Studies are ongoing to determine whether vitamin K minimizes the darkened skin in under-eye circles.

B-Complex Vitamins

Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) can help control acne, and vitamin B-7 (biotin) contributes to healthy hair and fingernails. Because it metabolizes food, B-2 (riboflavin) provides the ingredients your skin needs for optimal health. B vitamins can also help your skin retain moisture and avoid hyperpigmentation, or darker spots, on your skin.

A Constellation of Healthy Stars

All of the vitamins in the A-K range are superstars when it comes to providing crucial substances for your body. These vitamins work separately and together to keep us in the best of health. We've provided the common names of the vitamins for identification in food products and beauty aids. Making sure to include the proper amounts in your diet and cosmetic products is a stellar way to enhance your health, wellness and appearance.

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