Carolinas HealthCare System
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Vitamin Primer – The Top 13

Vitamin Primer - The Top 13

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Vitamins are substances that help cells in your body function normally, promoting proper growth and development. According to Scott Sweeney, DO, with Union Primary Care, part of Carolinas HealthCare System, there are 13 essential vitamins, meaning they are needed for the body to function.

These essential vitamins include the following:

Vitamin A
  • Helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucus membranes and skin.
  • Found in eggs, meat, cheese, liver and fish oil.
  • Also called vitamin B1, helps the body cells change carbohydrates into energy; also essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells.
  • Found in wheat germ, lean meats, fish, dried beans and dairy products.
  • Also called vitamin B2, important for body growth and production of red blood cells.
  • Found in lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, dairy products and fish.
  • Another B vitamin (B3, helps maintain healthy skin and nerves; also has cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • Found in dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, eggs and legumes.
  • This B5 is essential for metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Found in eggs, fish, milk, whole grain cereals, legumes, yeast, white and sweet potatoes, lean beef, broccoli and cabbage.
Pantothenic Acid
  • This B5 is essential for the metabolism of food; also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Found in eggs, fish, milk, whole grain cereals, legumes, yeast, white and sweet potatoes, lean beef, broccoli and cabbage.
Vitamin B6
  • Needed to make hemoglobin, for red blood cell metabolism; also helps maintain the blood sugar level and is used to metabolize proteins.
  • Found in beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains, spinach, tomato juice, avocados, tuna, peanut butter and bananas.
  • Works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells; also needed for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function.
  • Many foods are now fortified with folic acid. Also found in beans, legumes, citrus fruits, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, poultry, pork, shell fish and liver.
Vitamin B12
  • Important for metabolism; also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.
  • Found in eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish and milk.
Vitamin C
  • An antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums; helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue. It also promotes wound healing.
  • Found in green peppers, citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe.
Vitamin D
  • Helps absorb calcium for development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.
  • Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine three times a week is enough to produce the body's requirement. Also found in some fish, fish liver oils, and small amounts in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
Vitamin E
  • An antioxidant; plays a role in the formation of red blood cells.
  • Found in corn, nuts, wheat germ, seeds, olives, spinach, asparagus and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin K
  • Without it, blood would not stick together (coagulate). Some studies suggest it’s important for promoting bone health.
  • Found in cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.

Certain vitamins are better for you than others depending on your age, diet and health. Talk with your doctor at your next wellness visit about which vitamins are best for you and discuss creating a vitamin regimen for optimal health.

Ask Your Doctor About Vitamins

The primary care doctors at Carolinas HealthCare System can help you get (and stay) on the path to wellness.

Call 844-881-2180 or complete an online request form to find a doctor near you.