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How to get daily recomended vitamins from food

How to eat your vitamins?

Getting your vitamins and minerals through diet is very easy but nobody's perfect when it comes to healthful eating. It can be particularly challenging to get the nutrients you need if you're dieting or if you avoid animal or dairy products. Pills might seem like an easy fix, but food provides an abundance of nutrients, as well as fiber, that pills lack, says Mary Ryan, a registered dietitian in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 
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These nutrients are what keep your body functioning at its best―building strong bones; improving brainpower, mood, and memory; and possibly helping the immune system ward off ailments both small (a cold) and large (cancer).

"Vitamins should be used only as supplements to the diet, not substitutes for healthy food," says Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the antioxidant research lab at Tufts University, in Boston.While there are hundreds of nutrients, the following information explains the ones you need to consume every day, what they do, and how to get them from your diet.

Vitamin A - 700 mcg
Vitamin A is required for the proper function of your eyes, skin and immune system, as well as other body processes.  Animal based foods provide preformed Vitamin A which is absorbed as retinol, one of its most usable forms, while from fruits and vegetables, it’s called provitamin A carotenoid, of which beta-carotene is most efficiently converted to retinol. 

Eat It: One cup of cantaloupe, two cups of raw spinach, or one medium carrot raw will all get you over 100% of plant-based Vitamin A.  Of animal-based foods rich in Vitamin A, 3 ounces of chicken liver has about 245% of the daily value, while a cup of whole milk offers only about 5%.

Vitamin B6 - 1.3 mg
Vitamin B6 supports brain function, metabolism, and immune response.  It also plays a role in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.  Vitamin B6 is commonly absorbed well by the body, but may be lost in processing such as cooking, storage or drying.  Plant foods lose the least during processing.

Eat It: One medium baked potato or a medium banana has about 35% of the daily recommended intake, while a ½ baked chicken breast or a ½ cup of canned garbanzo beans offers up about 30%. A ½ cup of avocado, or one ounce of roasted sunflower seeds or walnuts offer another 10%.

Vitamin B12 - 2.4 mcg
Vitamin B12 plays a role in protein synthesis and cell division, helping to keep nerve and blood cells healthy.  There’s a two step process in absorbing Vitamin B1: the stomach’s hydrochloric acid separates it from the protein it’s attached to, then attaches it to the stomach’s protein, intrinsic factor, to use it.  

Eat It: Found primarily in animal products, some vegetarians and vegans opt to use supplements or get it through fortified foods like breakfast cereals or nutritional yeast, many of which offer 100% daily value in one serving. For meat eaters, three ounces of trout or salmon has about 100%.  While a double patty cheeseburger or cup of plain yogurt offer up 35% and 23% respectively.  

Vitamin C - 75 mg
Vitamin C acts an antioxidant in the body, protecting our cells from damaging free radicals. It also helps make collagen, a protein tied to wound healing.  Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin C of which 80 to 90% is absorbed.  However, in doses over 12 grams, Vitamin C’s absorption rate is only 16%.

Eat It: A ½ cup raw green bell pepper has 100%, while a ½ cup of fresh strawberries or steamed broccoli stands around 80%.  ¾ cup of tomato juice offers 55%, while the same serving of orange juice tops out at 155% of the recommended daily intake.

Vitamin D - 15 mcg
Vitamin D supports the body’s absorption of calcium and is thus important to bone health. It is also indicated in helping nerves communicate from muscles to the brain, making it essential for movement. Its absorption is dependent on processes in the liver and kidney.  Additionally, a recent study found it may be best absorbed after the largest or most fat-rich meal of your day.  Exposure to the sun’s UV rays activates Vitamin D synthesis as well.

Eat It: In addition to three ounces of sockeye salmon or mackerel, which give about 100%, the same serving of canned tuna yields about 40%, while the yolk of a large egg has about 10% of the recommended daily intake.  

Vitamin E - 15 mg
Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and boosts the immune systems ability to fight off bacteria and viruses.  Nuts, seeds, vegetable oil, and green leafy vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin E.

Eat It: Just one tablespoon of wheat germ oil gives you 100% of what you need daily, while one ounce of roasted almonds or sunflower seeds have about 35%.  An ounce of dry roasted peanuts or ½ cup of boiled spinach adds just 10%.

It turns out, you can get everything you need if you follow one basic guideline: Eat right.

Put the Right Foods on Your Plate

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