Vitamins and Minerals Part 1: Water-Soluble Vitamins
We all know that vitamins are good for us, but what exactly do vitamins do? That’s what we’re discussing in today’s blog post! But first, let’s cover some basics. Vitamins are micronutrients: small components found in food that are needed to perform many different body functions, maintain health, and prevent disease.
Vitamins can be grouped into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. All this means is that water-soluble vitamins are absorbed in water and excreted in the urine while fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with fat and excreted in feces. Both are very important to our overall health and wellbeing! Here is a breakdown of the two categories:
Pantothenic Acid (B6)
Today, we will focus on water-soluble vitamins!
All vitamins play a special role: they act as coenzymes. Coenzymes are needed for reactions to occur within our bodies. B vitamins are especially important for reactions involved in metabolism, which is how we obtain energy from the nutrients we consume. Foods typically high in B vitamins are plants (fruits and vegetables) so it makes sense that a healthy diet can prevent disease and keep the body functioning optimally.
Vitamin C also plays many specific roles in the body to maintain health:
- It acts as an antioxidant to fight off free radical damage and prevent disease
- It aids in collagen synthesis, the main structural protein in our bodies, and thus wound healing
- It helps with iron absorption, another micronutrient and mineral important for blood health
Where do we get B vitamins and vitamin C, and how do we know if we’re getting enough?
Vitamin C and B vitamins can be obtained in sufficient amounts from a consistent diet that includes a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. However, long-term vegans and vegetarians may need to supplement some vitamins that are found primarily in animal products, notably vitamin B12. As always, nutrition is very individual and our needs vary from person to person. Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement. This blog should only serve as a nutrition education tool to kickstart discussions surrounding vitamins and their health benefits! That being said, here are some nutritious foods that contain vitamin C and/or specific B vitamins. This is not a complete list but will hopefully offer some insight into nutrient-dense foods and spark inspiration!
Citrus fruits, including lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit
Legumes including beans, lentils, and peas
Pantothenic Acid (B5):
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark Leafy Greens
Follow along on Instagram (@faremeals) to learn more about each unique vitamin and its functions! Throughout the summer, we will cover fat-soluble vitamins and minerals so we can all learn a little more about these nutrients and how to incorporate them into our daily lives. Remember that there is no perfect example of health, and a nutritious eating pattern will look different for everyone! Stay happy and healthy this summer.