Vitamin Vocabulary
We have been told since we were young that vitamins and minerals are important. They are key nutrients needed for our body to function properly. When we lack the proper amounts, we can experience negative symptoms ranging from fatigue or diarrhea to more serious issues like seizures. Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken about how her vitamin D deficiency lead to her being diagnosed with osteopenia (a thinning of the bone) which can lead to osteoporosis.  While we all know how important it is to have adequate nutrition, not everyone is knowledgeable on what all these essential vitamins do for our body or what food we can eat to improve intake. While it is possible to obtain these vitamins over the counter in a capsule or tablet, it may be easier to incorporate these vitamins into our lives in a more organic way. I don’t know about you, but I can never remember to take supplements regularly. I am going to tell you how you can incorporate different foods to improve your vitamin and mineral intake.
 

For now, here is your nutrition cheat sheet to incorporating some of the most key vitamins and minerals into your diet. 
Vitamin A
Benefits: promotes healthy skin, hair, and especially eyes and vision.
Where to find it: carrots, bell peppers, cantaloupe, squash, peaches, sweet potato, eggs, liver, and dairy products
Vitamin B-1 (also known as Thiamine)
Benefits: helps to convert sugars into energy, promotes digestion and healthy heart muscles. Thiamin and several of the B vitamins can help to decrease fatigue.
Where to find it: whole wheat, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, black beans, spinach, eggplant, lentils, navy beans, lima beans, peas, oatmeal, peanuts, pork, bran, sunflower seeds, enriched rice, and soybean sprouts.
Vitamin B-12
Benefits: helps with the formation of red blood cells and nervous system function.
Where to find it: liver, beef, salmon, trout, pork, eggs, dairy products, and shellfish.
Vitamin C
Benefits: most commonly known for its aid in preventing infections and colds. It also strengthens blood vessels, aids in collagen production, and reduction of cholesterol levels. I found this surprising, but vitamin C is useful for preventing fatigue and stress as well. Time for me to drink more orange juice!
Where to find it: citrus fruits, barriers green and leafy vegetables, bell peppers, kiwi, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin D
Benefits: aids in the utilization of calcium (the reason why milk is usually fortified with vitamin D) and is essential for bone maintenance, nervous system function, and heart action.
Where to find it: fortified foods (like milk), mushrooms, salmon, sardines, tuna, eggs, and sunlight
Vitamin E
Benefits:  While most commonly known for its hair, skin and nail benefits, this vitamin helps to fight toxins, aids blood flow to the heart, and can help with lowering blood cholesterol levels. Studies have also found it to bring relief to menstrual pain and decrease menstrual bleeding/duration. My personal experience using this supplement has found this to be true, although that can vary from person to person.
Where to find it: soybeans, vegetable oils, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, leafy greens, enriched flours, whole wheat, whole grain cereals, almonds, olives, blueberries, tomatoes, avocado, and eggs.
Calcium
Benefits: We all know calcium helps build strong bones and teeth and prevent osteoporosis. However, it also aids in muscle, heart, and nerve function. It can help relieve pain and cramps, and ease insomnia.
Where to find it: dairy products, soybeans, sunflower seeds, legumes, and sardines.
Folic Acid
Benefits: improves circulation, aids in the digestion of proteins, and can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It is also essential in the first three months of pregnancy to prevent complications for the baby.
Where to find it: dark leafy green vegetables, carrots, liver, eggs, soybeans, avocados, oranges, beans, and whole wheat.
Iron
Benefits: Iron is present in all cells in the body and is key to the transportation of oxygen to all parts of the body.
Where to find it: almonds, apricots, raisins, dates, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, tuna, flounder, chicken, pork, liver, meats, raw clams, oysters, oatmeal, nuts, and beans
  
 If you feel that you may be experiencing vitamin deficiency, please speak with your health care provider, and they will determine the best way to incorporate the required nutrients.
  

Amanda grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL but is now enjoying living in Louisville, KY. She received her bachelors degree at Northern Illinois University where she acted as a resident advisor and mentor to fellow students. This was where she found her passion for wellness and helping others. She went on to study community health and receive her Masters of Education at the University of Louisville. During her studies, she focused her graduate research on programming for mental health and youth wellness. She also acts as an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. She has always enjoyed using her voice and knowledge to educate and advocate about important health topics. Amanda spends much of her time employed as a nanny for three wonderful children.

When she is not busy promoting health education or chasing around the kids, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing with her Pomeranian, Sulley, or indulging in a great book. Amanda thrives on helping to educate others about important health issues and effective health related behaviors so they can live happier and healthier lives!