A Healthy Look Into the World of Vitamins (Infographic)

what are vitamins
What are different types of vitamins

Written by Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, Md

Life today is fast-paced. We work hard and play hard. And, something has to give – unfortunately, that usually means that we opt for easy, unhealthy options when it comes to our diet, and might not get as much exercise as we need overall.

The problem with a lot of the food that we eat is that most of the goodness is processed out. They taste great, but once you know the facts about vitamins and how important they are for health, you’ll realize just how much these foods are robbing you of essential micronutrients.

Is it any wonder then that most of us walk around in a state of less-than-optimal health – not quite sick enough for medical treatment, but also not entirely well! We need to get ourselves back to a state of complete vitality, and that means starting to eat better.

MedAlertHelp.org has created the following vitamins infographic to provide you with all the necessary information in an easy to digest form. In it, you’ll discover:

  • What are vitamins
  • The uses of all vitamins
  • The signs and symptoms of their deficiency
  • The minimum intake for males and females
  • The natural sources of vitamins
  • Which foods have the most vitamins
  • How you can boost your vitamin intake
  • Whether you should consider taking a supplement
  • Which vitamins to take on a daily basis
  • Whether or not they really help
  • What side-effects multivitamins might have
  • Some fun facts

But right now, let’s take A Healthy Look Into the World of Vitamins!

What Are the 13 Vitamins Your Body Needs?

Vitamins are essential organic compounds that are needed in small quantities for our bodies to function properly. We need to ingest certain amounts of vitamins daily, usually through our diet, because our bodies produce insufficient amounts of them, or more often, they don’t produce them at all. Children and older adults especially have to make sure they are getting enough of them.

There are 13 vitamins overall, and they all have different functions. They are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B7
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

In order for you to maintain optimal health, you need to ensure that your diet contains enough of the micronutrients listed above. Sourcing natural vitamins from the food you eat should be your number one priority. That means eating a diet rich in whole foods that are minimally processed. You’ll also have to vary up the foods that you do eat to get a good balance of these micronutrients.

What Foods Provide What Vitamins?

Before we move onto that topic, we need to understand that vitamins can be divided into two basic categories depending on whether they are water-soluble (B vitamins and vitamin C) or fat-soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K). The difference is important for your health. You need to be more wary of the deficiencies of the former and the toxic levels that might build up of the latter.

Let’s say that you need a supplement to help you cope with stress, so you take B vitamins. As these are water soluble, taking large doses is not going to harm you. With vitamins that dissolve in water, the body uses what it cans, and simply excretes the rest. So, you can expect to have expensive pee, and a bit more work for your kidneys, but there won’t be any lasting negative side effects.

Now, on the other hand, let’s say that your immunity could be better, and you’ve decided that it’s because you don’t get enough sun exposure. You might want to up your intake of vitamin D foods and consider supplementing it as well. This could be problematic as these are fat-soluble nutrients. What happens here is that any excess is stored in the body’s fatty tissue and liver. Over time, the residue could build up to toxic levels. So taking them in excess could harm you over time.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

The first group comprises of all B vitamins and vitamin C. There are eight B vitamins in total that are sometimes manufactured as a B complex supplement. We’ll give you the breakdown of each of those vitamins, what they do, where you can find them, how much you need, and the signs and symptoms of their deficiency.

Read our blog: How to Increase WBC Count Naturally

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Food sources include:

  • Marmite
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Soy Beans
  • Trout

Men need 1,000 mcg a day, and women need 800 mcg a day. We need vitamin B1 for proper nerve and muscle function, and for energy. Thiamine tops the list of vitamins for depression.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Bad coordination
  • A low mood
  • Fatigue for no good reason

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Food sources include:

  • Liver
  • Almonds
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Mushrooms

Men need 1,300 mcg a day, and women need 1,100 mcg a day. We need vitamin B2 to make new red blood cells and provide energy for the muscles. Riboflavin is a part of all vitamins for energy that you might take.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Dry or cracked lips, especially if the corners are cracked
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A sore throat but no cold

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Food sources include:

  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Mushrooms
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Green peas

Men need 17,000 mcg a day, and women need 13,000 mcg a day. Many water-soluble vitamins foods contain lots of different B vitamins in the same food. We need vitamin B3 to metabolize fat and glucose. Niacin also helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Indigestion
  • Canker sores
  • Fatigue

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Food sources include:

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Trout
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocados

Men need 17,000 mcg a day, and women need 13,000 mcg a day. We need vitamin B5 to oxidize fatty acids and carbs. It assists with the formation of red blood cells and ensures that the adrenal glands function optimally. Pantothenic acid is a good addition to vitamins for anxiety.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Stomach pains
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Food sources include:

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Tuna
  • Pistachios
  • Dried prunes
  • Bananas

Men need 1,400 mcg a day, and women need 1,200 mcg a day. We need vitamin B6 to build new red blood cells and detoxify the liver. It is also essential for the healthy functioning of your nervous system. Pyridoxine is a good choice of vitamins for memory.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Dermatitis with cheilosis
  • Microcytic anemia
  • A swollen tongue

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Food sources include:

  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potato
  • Broccoli

Adults need between 30 mcg and 50 mcg a day. We need vitamin B7 to metabolize lipids, proteins, and carbs. Biotin is one of the top vitamins for hair and skin.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Hair loss
  • A rash around the genitals or on your face
  • Hallucinations

Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Food sources include:

  • Black-eyed peas
  • Lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Romaine lettuce

Adults need 200 mcg a day. We need vitamin B9 to help with the formation of red blood cells. Folate is one of the essential prenatal vitamins and aids in the development of the baby’s central nervous system.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Anemia
  • Poor immune function
  • Low energy levels
  • Bad digestion

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Food sources include:

  • Clams
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

We need up to 2.4 mcg a day. We need vitamin B12 to metabolize macronutrients and to form red blood cells. Cobalamin is one of the vitamins in foods of animal origin only.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Trouble walking
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Food sources include:

  • Guavas
  • Bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Broccoli

Men need 90,000 mcg a day, and women need 75,000 mcg a day. Vitamin C helps to boost immunity especially when it comes to common colds and flu. Ascorbic acid also improves blood circulation and helps prevent scurvy. Of all the vitamins and minerals, this is the one that’s probably the easiest to get your daily dose of.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Dry, splitting hair
  • Easy bruising
  • Gingivitis

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Moving on to the second group of vitamins, let’s have a look at the nutrients that you need to monitor your intake of, counting in any supplements that you might take and your food-based vitamins.

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Food sources include:

  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Liver
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli Leaf

Men need 900 mcg a day, and women need 700 mcg a day. Vitamin A is essential for good skeletal and teeth health. It is also essential for your immunity. And Retinol is one of the best vitamins for eyes.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Colds or the flu often
  • Xerophthalmia
  • Bad skin

Vitamin D (D2 – Ergocalciferol & D3 – Cholecalciferol)

Food sources include:

  • Salmon
  • Cremini Mushrooms
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Tofu
  • Eggs

Adults need 15 mcg a day. Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong and healthy and boosts immunity. It is one of the best vitamins for men who train a lot, but also for postmenopausal women who need to maintain bone density. The sunshine vitamin is named so because your body can make it as long as you get at least 15 minutes of sun exposure a day. It’s the only vitamin we are able to produce on our own. There are two types of it – vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Back or skeletal pains
  • Chronic fatigue

Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)

Food sources include:

  • Wheat germ oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnut oil

Adults need 15,000 mcg a day. Vitamin E helps keep cholesterol in check and boosts your immunity. Alpha-tocopherol is one of the natural vitamins you can overdose on.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Had gastric bypass surgery
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Crohn’s disease

Vitamin K (K1 – Phylloquinone & K2 – Menaquinone)

Food sources include:

  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Soybean oil

Men need 120 mcg a day, and women need 90 mcg a day. Vitamin K is necessary for proper blood clotting and bone health. Our first K vitamins source comes in the form of an injection administered shortly after birth to prevent the hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. There are two forms of it – vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). The good bacteria in our gut flora can convert K1 into K2.

You may be deficient if you have:

  • Spontaneous bruising
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Internal bleeding


What happened to the missing numbers and letters?

The vitamins listed above are the only ones that the human body requires to function. There are others, but these are not necessary, and some are harmful for humans but useful for other organisms.

Which food has the most vitamins?

Salmon probably counts as the food with the most vitamins, and certainly the most vitamins for skin. Narrowing it down to one particular food, though, is difficult as there are many others to choose from.

How can I increase vitamins in my body?

The best way is to eat a healthy diet and include whole foods high in vitamins. While we can synthesize each individual ingredient in the lab, it’s the combination of different ingredients as they appear in nature that is most helpful.

Having said that, considering the farming methods used today, the long product transport cycle, and the fact that our food is simply not as nutritious as it should be, looking for alternate sources of vitamins is wise. Even with the healthiest diet in the world, it is difficult to get the full range of nutrients that we require for optimal health and well-being.

So it is a good idea to carefully assess how many different supplements you are taking, and keep track of the number of fat-soluble vitamins foods you are eating as well.

Which fruit contains which vitamin?

Most fruits are healthy and packed with a range of vitamins. Citrus and strawberries, for example, contain vitamin C. If you want to improve your nutrition, fruits are a good way to start. Not only do they provide healthy fiber and a lot of water, but they are also foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Just be aware that they can contain a lot of natural sugar too.

What vitamins should I take daily?

This is really going to depend on what your needs are, how healthy you are, and what your diet is like. If you’re eating a relatively balanced diet, engage in moderate amounts of exercise, and are generally healthy, there’s no need for taking supplements.

If, on the other hand, you are under a lot of stress, concentrate on foods high in B vitamins and vitamin C, and consider taking a supplement as well. It’s best to check yourself for signs of deficiency and consider what nutrients your body might need more of.

It’s also worth noting that men and women have different nutritional needs and that the more active you are, the more nutrients your body will need over time. The best vitamins for women will be different from those of men because women tend to have smaller, less muscular frames, and have additional needs thanks to their monthly menstrual cycle.

Does taking vitamins really help?

These supplements are not cheap, and so it’s not surprising that people want to know that they really help. If you’re a senior, we’ve got you covered with a range of senior discounts, including ones for pharmacies that can help reduce the cost.

As to the question, “Do vitamins work?” the answer is that they do help, especially in cases where you have a deficiency. If you have a serious deficiency, you’ll start noticing good changes straight away. If you’re relatively healthy, you won’t feel much of a difference.

That said, it is a good idea to determine which vitamin deficiency you have, and supplement only the ones you’re lacking. Consider multivitamins only if you have specific needs like a high-stress working environment. We do need to note, though, that even the best multivitamin in the world is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

What are the best vitamins for the body?

The body needs the whole range of vitamins that we’ve discussed above, all in varying quantities. It does burn through the B’s and C’s pretty fast, so for optimal health, make sure that your daily diet includes some of the foods they are rich in.

Do multivitamins work?

That’s going to depend on the quality of the ingredients used. Make sure to do your research here. Cheaper products may be more filler than anything else or may use cheaper, less bioavailable forms of the nutrients. If that’s the case, then no, they’re not going to work all that well.

If you opt for a better quality product from a reputable brand and use that to enhance the nutrition from vitamin-rich foods, then yes, it’s going to give you a nicely rounded nutrient profile. Do take note of the instructions regarding when to take them and how to take them to get the best results.

Is it good to take a multivitamin every day?

These supplements are designed to be taken daily. You have to take them consistently for them to do any good. Besides which, to see real benefits and to reverse past deficiencies, you’ll need to take them for at least three to six months. After that, it will have become a habit anyway.

If you are a relatively healthy person and follow a good diet, you might be better off supplementing with the vitamins you need instead of a complete multivitamin. A good all-rounder is necessary to complete good elderly nutrition, and to help those who are chronically ill or undernourished.

Do multivitamins have side effects?

For the most part, if you take them correctly, they shouldn’t have. You might expect gastrointestinal upsets when first taking them, but these should pass over time. Some vitamins and supplements can have unexpected effects like making you feel hungrier.

In general, we’d suggest that you research any supplement you’re planning to take before taking it. When in doubt, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. There is a possibility, as with all things, that you might be sensitive or allergic to the ingredients used. So, if you do break out in a rash, or the gastrointestinal upsets are severe, or long-lasting, you may need to switch.

Are vitamins worth it?

There is an endless debate about whether or not you should stick to foods that contain vitamins or pay over your hard-earned money for a supplement. In an ideal world, these are nice to have, but not essential.

But, unless you’re able to grow all your own food, or source it from people using sound farming practices, the sad truth is that you’re probably not going to get the kind of nutrition you need from food alone.

That said, not all supplements are created equal. Stick with reputable brands and do avoid being caught up in any of the latest fads. Stick to the tried and tested supplements instead of getting drawn into the marketing hype surrounding the next latest cure-all.

Final Notes

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and learned a lot of new facts about vitamins. Here’s to your good health!

Disclaimer: The content on HealthTime is for educational and informational purposes only. Do not consider this as medical advice. Use the content in consultation with a certified healthcare professional.


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