We all have a cabinet in our kitchens filled with vitamins and powders. You take a couple for a few weeks always moving onto whatever is ‘new’ or ‘trending’. The best thing you can do for your health is to educate yourself on the different types of supplements and what they do. Every supplement is not a one size fits all, so do your research.
A good place to start is knowing the difference between water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamins:
What Are Water-Soluble Vitamins?
Water-soluble vitamins are naturally found in the water content that resides in different foods. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins aren’t normally stored in the body. Whatever your body does not absorb is excreted in the urine. This is why water-soluble toxicity is uncommon and why it’s important to get them daily from the foods we eat and supplementation.
1. B Vitamins: Consisting of eight different compounds1, each has similar health benefits, functions, and are often found in similar foods.
List of B Vitamins:
- B1 (Thiamine)
- B2 (Riboflavin)
- B3 (Niacin)
- B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- B6 (Pyridoxine)
- B7 (Biotin)
- B9 (Folate)
- B12 (Cobalamin)
In addition to getting B vitamins from our diets, some B vitamins can also be made by our microbiome: B2, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12.
Benefits of B Vitamins:
- Boosted metabolism
- Migraine episodes
- Depression and anxiety
- Canker sores
- Healthy skin, hair, and nails
- Production of powerful antioxidants like glutathione
- Heart-health support
Common Foods That Contain B Vitamins:
- Organ meats like liver and red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel as well as shellfish
- Green leafy vegetables
- Sulfur-rich vegetables
2. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Most people increase their vitamin C intake when they start feeling sick2. But there are many other benefits that get overlooked.
Benefits of Vitamin C:
- Production and repair of tendons, ligaments, bones, and teeth
- Healthy skin and collagen production
- Potent antioxidant power
Common Foods That Contain Vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy green vegetables
- Organ meats
What Are Fat-Soluble Vitamins?
Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolved in fat and need to be paired with healthy fats to be bioavailable. Most people are deficient in fat-soluble vitamins because the modern Western diet has long feared fatty foods. These vitamins are extremely important for hormone, brain, and immune health. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins can be toxic if taken in excess since your body stores them instead of excreting them.
1. Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system. A deficiency has been linked to inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes3. It comes in two different forms: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A. These compounds are converted to the active form in your body.
Preformed Vitamin A: Known as the active form of the vitamin, your body can use in its natural form.
Provitamin A Carotenoids, Alpha-Carotene, Beta-Carotene, and Beta-Cryptoxanthin: These are the inactive form of the vitamin found in plants.
Benefits of Vitamin A:
- Protects your eyes from night blindness and age-related decline
- May lower your risk of certain cancers
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Reduces your risk of acne
- Supports bone health
- Promotes healthy growth and reproduction
Common Foods That Contain Vitamin A:
- Cod liver oil
- Butter or ghee
- Plant carotenes
2. Vitamin D: Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” this nutrient is essential for many metabolic and immunological pathways in the body4. Vitamin D, in conjunction with vitamin A, has been shown to synergistically dampen the Th17 inflammatory response.
Benefits of Vitamin D:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth
- Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development
Common Foods That Contain Vitamin D:
- Egg yolks
- The sun
3. Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols5. Vitamin E deficiency, which is rare and usually due to an underlying problem with digesting dietary fat rather than from a diet low in vitamin E, can cause nerve problems.
Benefits of Vitamin E:
- Balances cholesterol
- Fights free radicals and prevents disease development
- Repairs damaged skin
- Thickens hair
- Balances hormones
- PMS symptoms
Common Foods That Contain Vitamin E:
- Raw almonds
- Raw hazelnuts
- Wild salmon
- Palm kernel oil
- Flaxseed oil
4. Vitamin K2: Studies have shown that vitamin K2 was effective at inhibiting the pro-inflammatory iNOS in the spinal cord and the brain immune system in patients with multiple sclerosis symptoms6. Unfortunately, K2 is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the Western diet.
Benefits of Vitamin K2:
- May help prevent heart disease
- May help improve bone health
- May lower your risk of osteoporosis
- May improve dental health
- May help fight cancer
Common Foods That Contain Vitamin K2:
- Natto, fermented soy
- Goose liver
- Egg yolks
- Dark chicken meat
1. Vitamin B-Complex
2. Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress before and after Vitamin C Supplementation, March 1997
3. TLR2 dependent induction of vitamin A metabolizing enzymes in dendritic cells promotes T regulatory responses and inhibits TH-17 mediated autoimmunity, 2009 March 1
4. Vitamin D
5. Vitamin E
6. Vitamin K2 ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, 2005 Dec 30;170(1-2):11-20. Epub 2005 Sep 15