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Do you know your ABCs?

Posted by Tauschek, Emily L - July 14, 2016 - Emily T., Featured, Students


I wish there was a catchy tune to help us all remember the benefits and sources of vitamins, but I have yet to come across it. Even if there was, we all can’t sing nor dance like the Jackson 5 (keep this in mind for later… I’m quiet the jokester)! Anyway, many times medical webpages are overloaded with that fancy science talk and understanding the importance that vitamins play in our diets can be pretty tricky.

Vitamin A: It’s not only a vitamin, but also an antioxidant meaning that it protects the body’s cells from certain forms of damage. That sounds pretty good to me! So what’s the deal then? Why do we care about vitamin A? Vitamin A contributes greatly to vision, bone growth, cell function, reproduction and skin health.
Animal sources: whole milk, eggs
Plant sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash
Food sources with added vitamin A: nonfat milk, cereals

emily201607ABCbVitamin B: This is the big one! There is a whole family of B vitamins and they all serve the body in different ways. To make things even more confusing, these vitamins have multiple names as well. All B vitamins work together to support the production of cellular energy within the body and some B vitamins work in extra areas as well. We’ll call these the overachievers with the utmost respect from their consumers!

B1 or Thiamine: Works to maintain a normal functioning nervous system in addition to the role it plays in cellular energy production.
Plant sources: lentils, legumes, whole grains, green peas, spinach, cabbage

B2 or Riboflavin: Helps produce cellular energy.
Animal sources: salmon, beef liver, lamb, milk, eggs
Plant sources: cereals, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms

B3 or Niacin: Strong link to cardiovascular health. These would be your labeled heart healthy foods.
Animal sources: Turkey and chicken breasts, tuna
Plant sources: whole wheat grains, avocados, nuts, broccoli, lentils

B6 or Pyridoxine: Aids in red blood cell formation and reacts with the amino acids and glycogen in the body.
Animal sources: Organ meat, poultry, fish
Plant sources: bananas, cooked spinach, sweet potatoes, fortified cereal grains

B7 or Biotin: Plays an importance role in healthy hair, skin and nails as well as supports your metabolism.
Animal sources: organ meat
Plant sources: strawberries,raspberries, watermelon, grapefruit, cauliflower, broccoli, soybeans

B9 or Folic Acid: This is super, super, SUPER importance for women who are pregnant so pay attention! Folic acid plays a HUGE role in fetal development and without sufficient amounts of this B vitamin, there could be nervous system complications.
Plant sources: dark leafy greens (asparagus, spinach, kale), beets, dates, avocados

B12 or Cobalamin: Crucial for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and nervous system formation.
Animal sources: chicken, beef, fish, milk, eggs

Vitamin C: Helps with the growth and repair of tissues, makes collagen (a protein used for making skin, cartilage, tendons, etc) and bone health.
Plant sources: citrus fruits, red pepper, green pepper, broccoli, strawberries

Vitamin D: Allows for calcium absorption and we all know how important calcium is for our bones and teeth.
Sources: the sun, the flesh of fatty fish, fortified milk. Vitamin D is found in very few foods and if it is present, it is in small amounts.

Vitamin E: Works as an antioxidant to protect the body cell’s from being damaged by what scientists call free radicals. Supports healthy immune function.
Sources: wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, soybean oil

Obviously there are many more sources in which these vitamins exist other than the ones listed but these are just a few examples to get you started. Now if we have any karaoke lovers out there the Jackson 5 has released a new tune for those healthy eaters out there! It goes a little something like this …

It’s easy as eggs, fish, beans
As simple as dark leafy greens
A plus B C D E
Baby vitamins!
And repeat (blah blah blah!)

I know, I know, that song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now … you’re welcome! Okay now that I have officially embarrassed myself this week, I hope you all have a nice weekend!


Emily Tauschek ’19 is a dietetics and Spanish double major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

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