Contrary to popular belief, the optimal way to get the vitamins you need is by consuming a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other plant foods, including seeds, nuts and whole grains.
Eating vitamin-rich foods instead of taking copious amounts of vitamin supplements is the same idea as eating foods with high water content instead of guzzling endless amounts of water each day. If you are strategic about the foods you put into your body, you can maximize the benefits on a physical and cellular level.
High vitamin doses can be toxic and can cause imbalances in the body. Some supplements are beneficial, but they should never be relied on a replacement for a healthy diet. Instead, try incorporating vitamin-rich foods into your diet to optimize your health!
Vitamins 101 – The 13 Essential Vitamins for Bodily Function
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- B Vitamins (Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamine, Folate, B12, B6, Pantothenic Acid & Biotin)
There are two types of vitamins; water soluble (i.e. vitamin C, thiamine) and fat-soluble (vitamins D, E, & A). All this means is that some vitamins are found and stored in oils and fats while others dissolve in water and mix easily in your blood. Fat-soluble vitamins tend to stick around in the body longer, while water soluble vitamins are eliminated through the urine quicker and small amounts are stored in the body at one time.
A handful of vitamins serve as antioxidants, like Vitamin E, C and beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), and are beneficial for our bodies because they can slow aging and protect against cancer.
Now that you know a little more about vitamins, let’s get to the food!
Foods Rich in Vitamins
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is typically found in food sources high in cholesterol and saturated fat such as cheese, milk and cream. We want to stay away from these types of foods. But there is hope! Focusing of foods rich in beta-carotene will generate Vitamin A in your body.
Beta-carotene: Beta-Carotene is a natural antioxidant that is used by the body to make Vitamin A. So instead of consuming fatty and high cholesterol foods to get our dosage of Vitamin A, I encourage you to find it indirectly through vegetables and certain fruits. The stronger or more intense the color of a vegetable or fruit, the higher the concentration of beta-carotene content.
- Foods rich in Vitamin A & Beta-Carotene: Cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, carrots, mango
Get the most of these vitamins with my Feel Gratitude Sweet Potato Soup!
Vitamin K: Our intestines typically produce Vitamin K and it’s function is primarily to allow blood clotting when you are injured. It also ensures calcium gets to the bones and blood and helps prevent calcification from occurring in the arteries and soft tissues.
I recommend that you increase your intake of these foods for preventative measures to combat injury and to prevent calcification.
- Foods rich in Vitamin K: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cabbage, kale and other dark leafy greens
Try my Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Nourishing Soup!
Vitamin D: This vitamin is essential for the absorption of calcium and for the formation of healthy strong bones. In the Beauty Detox Solution (BDS) I go in depth about why dairy is detrimental to our bodies and does not belong in our diet.
- Most of us think that Vitamin D can only be derived from drinking milk, but we are forgetting our largest natural provider of Vitamin D- the sun! Spending at least 20 minutes outside a day will take care of your Vitamin D needs. I recommend a brisk 20-minute walk in the morning. Our bodies can organically synthesize Vitamin D when your largest organ, your skin, is exposed to the sun. Pretty cool, huh?
On the other hand, if you do not have regular access to the sun for whatever reason, in that case a D3 supplement is recommended.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps repair and regenerate collagen. It is essential for beautiful, youthful skin. Most people think they are getting a good dosage of vitamin C through the containers of orange juice they buy.
But these types of store-bought products are pasteurized, so much of the bioavailability of the vitamin to your body is compromised, and in any case these products are acid-forming in the body and high in sugars, which will destroy your skin’s beauty. I’d rather blend the orange with its fiber, or eat the orange, but not juice the orange. These foods are better sources:
- Foods rich in Vitamin C: Broccoli, citrus fruits (use your lemons!), tomatoes, cabbage, red bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, papaya, strawberries, leafy green vegetables
This Vegan Cheesy Broccoli recipe makes a great side dish!
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is involved in immune function and is an antioxidant. It can help protect your skin from free radical damage. Increase your intake of these foods when you feel yourself coming down with a common cold, and notice the strength of your body’s immune system in warding off minor infections.
- Foods rich in Vitamin E: Almonds, almond milk, sunflower seeds, almond butter, olives, spinach, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, olive oil (use moderate amounts)
My Almond Blissful Beauty Shake is so delicious and loaded with Vitamin E!
Folate: Folate is an underrated vitamin and is integral to our cellular functioning. In particular, Folate helps to produce and maintain new cells. That’s why it is so important for my Pregnant Beauties. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Additionally, folate is what your body uses to make red blood cells and is vital in preventing anemia.
- Foods rich in Folate: Sea vegetables, asparagus, collard breeds, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, parsley, cantaloupe, spinach, tomato, broccoli
Try this amazing All-Plant Stewed Collards recipe!
Vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid & Thiamin: These are all B vitamins that work as a complex, essentially providing you with energy and helping you to maintain proper brain function. They are also essential for beautiful, healthy hair. These are the energy vitamins, so stock up!
- Foods rich in B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid & Thiamin: Bananas, nutritional yeast, millet bread, mushrooms, spinach, seaweeds, green beans, peas, broccoli, avocado, coconut yogurt, sunflower seeds, collard greens, squash, sweet potato, yam, nuts (except peanuts!)
Having my Coconut Banana Dream Smoothie feels like you’re treating yourself to a decadent treat, but it’s also loaded with these B vitamins!
Vitamin B12: A deficiency in B12 can be identified by symptoms of fatigue, vision problems and soreness of the mouth. B12 helps create strong hair, nails and skin and it helps to maintain a healthy digestive system. B12 reduces fatigue and regulates our central nervous system, minimizing stress.
As with other B vitamins, your gut can manufacture and synthesize missing components of the complex when your inner ecosystem is balanced with a healthy ratio of probiotics. Incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet. Try using my Classic Dressing or the Oil-Free Basil Lover’s Dressing on a bed of freshly tossed kale lettuce and vegetables. But if you are vegan, supplementation is still generally recommended.
- Foods rich in B12: Probiotic & Enzyme Salad, nutritional yeast, sea vegetables, blue-green algae
I meet so many people that take dozens of different supplements every day. While a wholefood-based multi-vitamin/multi-mineral can be good insurance, challenge yourself to have an excellent diet. Incorporate these vitamin-rich foods into your diet and eliminate unnecessary supplements. These foods have added benefits and will absorb more effectively into your body.
After investigating into the world of vitamin-rich foods, you will see that there is a BIG emphasis on greens and vegetables! If you haven’t already shifted into the plant-based, Beauty Detox lifestyle, my 30 Day Roadmap to Healthy Weight Loss is the perfect way to get started. You can eat your pounds away while nourishing your body on the cellular level. It doesn’t get much better than that.