Vitamins – what you should know.

“If every individual empowered themselves with nutritional knowledge – this world would be a better place” – Just Vegan with Šárka H. Hedström

► What are vitamins?

A vitamin is an organic molecule that is an essential micronutrient which as an organism is needed in small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism. Essential nutrients cannot be synthesized in the organism, either at all or not in sufficient quantities, and therefore must be obtained through a well-balanced meal plan.

It is not advisable to run out and buy over the counter pills without checking inward first at mitigating circumstances regarding possible deficiencies which could be caused by lifestyle choices, inhibitors, possible disease etc. Taking supplementation where it is not needed can be harmful. Causes of deficiencies should be investigated first, and pills should be taken with caution and as a last option where it is not a possibility to obtain adequate nutrition. In most cases proper nutrition can be obtained and upped from healthy well balanced meal plans.

►How many vitamins are there?

There are 13 essential vitamins — vitamins A, C (ascorbic acid) D, E, K, and the eight B vitamins (B1 thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyridoxine, B7 or “H” biotin, B9 folate, B12 cobalamin).

There are 9 water soluble vitamins (All the B Vitamins plus Vitamin C). Deficiency in any of these water-soluble vitamins results in a clinical syndrome that may result in severe morbidity and mortality. Water soluble vitamins are carried to the body’s tissues but are not stored in the body. They must be taken daily.

There are 4 fat soluble vitamins. A, D, E, K are fat soluble vitamins whilst the rest are water soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed better along with fats in the diet and are stored in the body’s fatty tissue and in the liver.

 ►What are vitamins functions?

Vitamin A: Fat soluble. Fating an adequate amount will support eye health. Vitamin A also stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, takes part in remodelling bone, helps maintain healthy endothelial cells (those lining the body’s interior surfaces), and regulates cell growth and division such as needed for reproduction. Vitamin A helps protect from certain diseases such as cancer and age-related vision diseases.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Prevents scurvy. Plays a role in controlling infections and healing wounds and is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals. It is needed to make collagen, a fibrous protein in connective tissue that is weaved throughout various systems in the body: nervous, immune, bone, cartilage, blood, and others. The vitamin helps make several hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain and nerves. Vitamin C improves the absorption of non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plant foods such as leafy greens. Drinking a small glass of 100% fruit juice or including a vitamin-C-rich food with meals can help boost iron absorption.

Vitamin D: Fat soluble. Vitamin D affects brain function. Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. Also, vitamin D reduces cancer cell growth, helps control infections and reduces inflammation. Many of the body’s organs and tissues have receptors for vitamin D, which suggest important roles beyond bone health, and scientists are actively investigating other possible functions. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D provides the daily amount needed to maintain healthy bones and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people. It assumes minimal sun exposure. We need Vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, but alpha tocopherol is the only one used by the human body. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant, scavenging loose electrons—so-called “free radicals”—that can damage cells. It also enhances immune function and prevents clots from forming in heart arteries. Antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin E, came to public attention in the 1980s when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis, and might also contribute to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. Vitamin E protects cells from free radical damage as well as reduce the production of free radicals in certain situations.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two forms. The main type is called phylloquinone, found in green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale, and spinach. The other type, menaquinones, are found in fermented foods. Menaquinones can also be produced by bacteria in the human body. Vitamin K helps to make various proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of bones. Prothrombin is a vitamin K-dependent protein directly involved with blood clotting. Osteocalcin is another protein that requires vitamin K to produce healthy bone tissue. Vitamin K is found throughout the body including the liver, brain, heart, pancreas, and bone. It is broken down very quickly and excreted in urine or stool. Because of this, it rarely reaches toxic levels in the body even with high intakes, as may sometimes occur with other fat-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin B1(thiamine): Turns food to energy to keep the nervous system healthy.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): All B vitamins help convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. Also, they help our bodies metabolise fats and protein. B2 (riboflavin) is essential to formation of two major coenzymes (flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide). These coenzymes are involved in energy, metabolism, cellular respiration, antibody production, as well as normal growth and development. The coenzymes are also required for the metabolism of B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B9 (folate). B2 (riboflavin) prevents DNA damage caused by many carcinogens, by acting as a coenzyme with several different cytochrome P450 enzymes, therefore helps prevent cancer. Keep skin, eyes, and the nervous system healthy.

Vitamin B3 (niacin): Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid. It is an organic compound and a form of vitamin B3 which is an essential human nutrient. Niacin works in the body as a coenzyme, with more than 400 enzymes dependent on it for various reactions. Niacin helps to convert nutrients into energy, create good cholesterol (HDL) and fats, create, and repair DNA, and exert antioxidant effects.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): All animals require pantothenic acid to synthesize coenzyme A (CoA) – essential for fatty acid metabolism – as well as to, in general, synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine):  Plays an important role in the body. It is needed to maintain the health of nerves and skin. Helps the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food. Helps the body form haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.

Vitamin B7 or H (biotin): Haar und Haut – hair and skin (in German). Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help our body make fatty acids. Fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat. During digestion, the body breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can then be absorbed into the blood. Also helps promote healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Vitamin B9 (folate): The manmade form of folate is called folic acid. Folate is also known as folacin and vitamin B9. It helps the body form healthy red blood cells and reduces the risk of birth defects called neural tube defects, such as spina bifida in unborn babies. A lack of folate could lead to folate deficiency anaemia.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): B12 is needed to form red blood cells and DNA. Releases energy from food.  It is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 binds to the protein in the foods we eat. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes unbind vitamin B12 into its free form. From there, vitamin B12 combines with a protein called intrinsic factor so that it can be absorbed further down in the small intestine. Lack of this vitamin can lead to permanent neurological damage. This is also particularly important to woman with baby. Taking folic acid at high doses can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency. So these vitamins are often taken together. Talk to your doctor before taking more than 800 mcg of folic acid.

 ►Signs of vitamin deficiency.

Vitamin deficiency in humans who use and or abuse all drugs such as street drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, smoking, vaping, drinking alcohol, and even secondary smokers is common. There is also a risk of vitamin deficiency with anyone compromised with diseases such as celiac Crohn’s, cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis, anorexia, cancer, and stomach and intestinal operations and digestive disorders can affect vitamin absorption. Poverty is also a major factor. Surgeries involving the digestive organs or that reduce the normal level of stomach acid may also interfere with absorption. Hypochlorhydria is a condition marked by low levels of stomach acid. Your body may not be able to make enough hydrochloric acid if you have digestive problems, a lack of vitamins, or stomach infection.

Our body speaks to us constantly, showing us signs of vitamin deficiency.

Vitamin A deficiency: Fatigue, susceptibility to infections, and infertility. Xerophthalmia, a severe dryness of the eye that if untreated can lead to blindness. Nyctalopia or night blindness. Irregular patches on the white of the eyes. Dry skin or hair.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency: Scurvy, the hallmark disease of severe vitamin C deficiency, displays symptoms resulting from loss of collagen that weakens connective tissues: Skin spots caused by bleeding and bruising from broken blood vessels. Swelling or bleeding of gums, and eventual loss of teeth. Hair loss. Delayed healing of skin wounds. Fatigue, malaise. Iron-deficiency anaemia due to decreased absorption of non-heme iron.

Vitamin D deficiency: Worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, and deficiencies can be found in all ethnicities and age groups. In industrialized countries, doctors are seeing the resurgence of rickets, the softening and weakening of bones . Anorexia, weight loss, Irregular heartbeat, hardening of blood vessels and tissues due to increased blood levels of calcium, potentially leading to damage of the heart and kidneys.

Vitamin E deficiency: People who have digestive disorders or do not absorb fat properly (e.g., pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease) can develop a vitamin E deficiency. The following are common signs of a deficiency: Retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eyes that can impair vision). Peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves, usually in the hands or feet, causing weakness or pain). Ataxia (loss of control of body movements). Decreased immune function.

Vitamin K deficiency: A longer time for blood to clot or a prolonged prothrombin time (as measured in a physician’s office). Bleeding. Haemorrhaging. Osteopenia or osteoporosis – weak and brittle bones.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency: Deficiency can cause loss of weight and appetite, confusion, memory loss, muscle weakness, and heart problems. Severe thiamine deficiency leads to a disease called beriberi (a disease causing inflammation of the nerves and heart failure) with the added symptoms of tingling and numbness in the feet and hands, loss of muscle, and poor reflexes.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency: In addition to inadequate intake, causes of riboflavin deficiency can include endocrine abnormalities (such as thyroid hormone insufficiency). The signs and symptoms of riboflavin deficiency (also known as ariboflavinosis) include skin disorders, hyperaemia (excess blood in the vessels supplying an organ or other part of the body.) and edema of the mouth and throat (swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues), angular stomatitis (lesions at the corners of the mouth), cheilosis (swollen, cracked lips), hair loss, reproductive problems, sore throat, itchy and red eyes, and degeneration of the liver and nervous system. People with riboflavin deficiency typically have deficiencies of other nutrients, so some of these signs and symptoms might reflect these other deficiencies. Severe riboflavin deficiency can impair the metabolism of other nutrients, especially other B vitamins, through diminished levels of flavin coenzymes. Anaemia and cataracts can develop if riboflavin deficiency is severe and prolonged. The earlier changes associated with riboflavin deficiency are easily reversed. However, riboflavin supplements rarely reverse later anatomical changes (such as formation of cataracts). Migraine headaches which can be preceded or accompanied by an aura are also signs of deficiency.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency: Signs and symptoms of pellagra include skin and mouth lesions, anaemia, headaches, and tiredness. Otherwise, other signs of deficiency are, depression, headache, fatigue, memory loss, hallucinations.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) deficiency: Impaired energy production, due to low CoA levels, which could cause symptoms of irritability, fatigue, and apathy. Acetylcholine synthesis is also impaired; therefore, neurological symptoms can also appear in deficiency; they include sensation of numbness in hands and feet, paraesthesia, and muscle cramps. Additional symptoms could include restlessness, malaise, sleep disturbances, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Greying of hair, hair loss, disorders of the nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune systems, decreased food intake, and skin lesions.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) deficiency: Classic clinical symptoms include rash and inflammation around the mouth and eyes, plus neurological effects that include drowsiness and peripheral neuropathy affecting sensory and motor nerves in the hands and feet. In addition to dietary shortfall, deficiency can be the result of anti-vitamin drugs.

Vitamin B7 or H (biotin) deficiency: Haar und Haut – hair and skin. Hair loss, dry skin, and nail problems (brittle nails), and lesions on the feet and legs after deficiency after 6 months. Deficiency leads to many clinical abnormalities, mainly neurological and dermal abnormalities. Gastrointestinal disease or inflammatory bowel disease. Hair loss (alopecia) and periorificial dermatitis; scaly, red rash around the orifices, i.e., eyes, nose, and mouth (also called “biotin-deficient face”). The rash is like that of zinc deficiency. Patients may also develop conjunctivitis and skin infections. Neurological symptoms include hypotonia, seizures, ataxia, numbness and tingling of the extremities, mental retardation, and developmental delay in children. The patient may show depression, lethargy, and a history of hallucinations. Other biotin deficiency presentations include ketolactic acidosis (vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, tachycardia or pathological respiration described in chronic alcoholics) and organic aciduria (a class of inborn errors of metabolism characterized by accumulation of abnormal (and usually toxic) organic acid metabolites and increased excretion of organic acids in urine) . Individuals with hereditary disorders of biotin deficiency such as biotinidase deficiency may also show impaired immune system function leading to increased susceptibility to infections, e.g., Candida. Biotinidase deficiency typically shows symptoms at the age of 1 week to more than one year and may have additional symptoms like hearing loss and optic atrophy.

Vitamin B9 (folate) deficiency: Signs of deficiency can include megaloblastic anaemia (a condition arising from a lack of folate (B9) in the diet or poor absorption that produces less red blood cells, and larger in size than normal); weakness, fatigue; irregular heartbeat; shortness of breath; difficulty concentrating; hair loss; pale skin; mouth sores.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency: Measuring vitamin B12 in the blood is not the best way to determine whether someone is deficient, as some people with a deficiency can show normal B12 blood levels. Blood levels of methylmalonic acid, a protein breakdown product, and homocysteine are better markers that capture actual vitamin B12 activity. These values increase with a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is estimated that up to 15% of the general population has a vitamin B12 deficiency. Lack of this vitamin can lead to permanent neurological damage. This is also particularly important to woman with child. Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune disease that attacks and potentially destroys gut cells so that intrinsic factor is not present, which is crucial for vitamin B12 to be absorbed. If vitamin B12 deficiency ensues, other types of anaemia and neurological damage may result. Even the use of a high-dose B12 supplement will not solve the problem, as intrinsic factor is not available to absorb it – B12 injection is then recommended. Inadequate stomach acid or medications that cause decreased stomach acid can also inhibit B12 (cobalamin) absorption. Intestinal surgeries or digestive disorders that cause malabsorption. Surgeries that affect the stomach where intrinsic factor is made, or the ileum (the last portion of the small intestine) where vitamin B12 is absorbed, can increase the risk of a deficiency. Certain diseases including Crohn’s and celiac disease that negatively impact the digestive tract also increase the risk of deficiency. Signs of deficiency may include megaloblastic anaemia—a condition of larger than normal sized red blood cells and a smaller than normal amount; this occurs because there is not enough vitamin B12 in the diet or poor absorption. Pernicious anaemia—a type of megaloblastic anaemia caused by a lack of intrinsic factor so that vitamin B12 is not absorbed. Fatigue, weakness. Nerve damage with numbness, tingling in the hands and legs. Memory loss, confusion. Dementia. Depression. Seizures.

 ►Caution in over dosing through pills.

A general recommendation is to obtain all vitamins naturally through foods where possible. This is achievable through a healthy well balanced vegan meal plan using rainbow colours, various food groups such as washed, soaked, and sometimes toasted (grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds), fruits, land and sea vegetables, roots, herbs, and spice. Keeping our sacred vessels clean and drug free (meaning NO alcohol, street and pharmaceutical drugs, and all forms of smoking), is a prerequisite of living healthy, as all these drugs inhibit vitamins reaching their primary targets. Exercise, rest, adequate sleep, clean air, water, and healthy soil must also be taken into consideration to enable us to live healthy lives. Full blood tests should be taken annually and in cases where this is not possible nor affordable, it is likely that vitamin doses of B12, D, and zinc could be considered as a supplementation form to what one is already consuming from natural whole vegan sources. Close interest of nutrition should always be a priority and followed with zest. Before taking any forms of pills and or injections, check blood levels first where possible, otherwise immediately start upping the consumption of natural foods containing the vitamins that are needed according to signs of nutrient deficiencies that are visible. It is much easier to overdose on pills than it is to obtain nutrients naturally through whole vegan foods groups.

Vitamin A overdose: Vitamin A toxicity may be more common than a deficiency, due to high doses of preformed vitamin A (retinol) found in some supplements. Vitamin A is also fat-soluble, meaning that any amount not immediately needed by the body is absorbed and stored in fat tissue or the liver. If too much is stored, it can become toxic, resulting in bone loss, hip fracture, or some birth defects. Another reason to avoid too much preformed vitamin A is that it may interfere with the beneficial actions of vitamin D. Signs of toxicity include vision changes such as blurry sight, bone pain, nausea and vomiting, dry skin, sensitivity to bright light like sunlight. In contrast to preformed vitamin A, beta-carotene is not toxic even at high levels of intake. The body can form vitamin A from beta-carotene as needed, and there is no need to monitor intake levels as with preformed vitamin A. Therefore, it is preferable to choose a multivitamin supplement that has all or most of its vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene; many multivitamin manufacturers have already reduced the amount of preformed vitamin A in their products. However, there is no strong reason for most people to take individual high-dose beta-carotene supplements. Smokers should avoid these since some randomized trials in smokers have linked high-dose supplements with increased lung cancer risk.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) overdose : The intestines have a limited ability to absorb vitamin C. Studies have shown that absorption of vitamin C decreases to less than 50% when taking amounts greater than 1000 mg. Diarrhoea, increased formation of kidney stones in those with existing kidney disease or history of stones, increased levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout), and increased iron absorption and overload in individuals with hemochromatosis, a hereditary condition causing excessive iron in the blood.

Vitamin D overdose: Vitamin D toxicity most often occurs from taking supplements. The low amounts of the vitamin found in food are unlikely to reach a toxic level, and a high amount of sun exposure does not lead to toxicity because excess heat on the skin prevents D3 from forming. The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a build-up of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. Vitamin D toxicity might progress to bone pain and kidney problems, such as the formation of calcium stones.

Vitamin E overdose: Risk of excess bleeding in overdose and if an individual is also using a blood thinning medication such as warfarin.

Vitamin K overdose: If you have no excess bleeding, there should be no need to take K pills. If you do have issues with excess bleeding and coagulation, see a doctor for further tests regarding. In supplement form, vitamin K can induce blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, if you take too much.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) overdose: Very high doses may cause stomach upset, nausea, diarrhoea. In severe cases or serious allergic reactions – skin changes that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin, anaphylaxis, wheezing, tightness of chest or throat, trouble breathing or talking, your mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat start swelling in which case contact a hospital immediately.  Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) overdose: You should be able to get all the riboflavin you need by eating a varied and balanced meal plan.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) overdose: You should be able to get all the niacin you need from your daily diet. Niacin cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day. Taking high doses of nicotinic acid pills can cause skin flushes. Taking high doses for a long time could lead to liver damage.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) overdose: You should be able to get all the pantothenic acid you need by eating a varied and balanced meal plan.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) overdose: Loss of feeling in the arms and legs known as peripheral neuropathy. This will usually improve once you stop taking the pills. But in a few cases when people have taken large amounts of vitamin B6, particularly for more than a few months, the effect can be permanent.

Vitamin B7: (biotin) overdose: You should be able to get all the biotin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.  Insomnia, excessive thirst, and urination.

Vitamin B9 (folate) overdose: Taking doses of folic acid higher than 1mg can mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can eventually damage the nervous system if it’s not spotted and treated. This is particularly a concern for older people because it becomes more difficult to absorb vitamin B12 as you get older. If planning on having a child, speak to your doctor about upping folate.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) overdose: Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin, so any unused amount will exit the body through the urine. Generally, up to 1000 mcg a day of an oral tablet to treat a deficiency is considered safe. “However, it is important not to start a high-dosage pills of any kind without first checking with your doctor.

 ►Foods containing vitamins naturally.  

Vitamin A, D, E, and K are fat soluble and so more absorbable when taken together with natural fats such as various oils (avocado, hemp, almond) etc, nuts, seeds and various soybean products such as tempeh, tofu, soy milk, full fat soy flour, and liquid soybean oil, dark chocolate and nut and seed butter.

Vitamin C and all B vitamins are water soluble; this means that they dissolve in water, delivered to the body’s tissues, and need to be taken daily through foods as excess amounts are flushed through the body and not stored well.

Vitamin A from natural foods: The two main forms of vitamin A in the human meal plan are preformed vitamin A (retinol, retinyl esters), and provitamin A carotenoids such as beta-carotene that are converted to retino. Preformed vitamin A comes from fortified foods, and man made vitamin pills. Carotenoids are found naturally in whole vegan foods. There are other types of carotenoids found in food that are not converted to vitamin A but have health-promoting properties, these include lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Many breakfast cereals , juices, and other foods are fortified with retinol (preformed vitamin A) which is animal derived – which we wish to avoid at all costs unless it specifies “vegan” on the package. Many fruits and vegetables and some pills contain beta-carotene, lycopene, or zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A by the liver, according to the body’s needs. It is the most powerful precursor to vitamin A, followed by alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, other carotenoids. Generally speaking, the brighter and more intense the colours, the higher the beta carotene. Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce broccoli), orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other winter squash, summer squash, apricots), tomatoes, red bell pepper, cantaloupe, mango, and some fortified vegan foods.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from natural foods: Guavas, papayas, citrus (oranges, lemon, grapefruit), kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), white potatoes, snow peas, kale. Vitamin C can be destroyed by heat and light. High-heat cooking temperatures or prolonged cook times can break down the vitamin. Because it is water-soluble, the vitamin can also seep into cooking liquid and be lost if the liquids are not eaten. Quick heating methods or using as little water as possible when cooking, such as stir-frying or blanching, can preserve the vitamin. Foods at peak ripeness eaten raw contain the most vitamin C.

Vitamin D from natural foods: Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, though some foods are fortified with the vitamin such as orange juice, cereals, and plant milks. Typically, soymilk is fortified with vitamin D2, the vegan form of vitamin D, while cereals, juice, and margarine are fortified with vitamin D3 derived from sheep’s wool. For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking pills because it is hard to eat enough through food. Vitamin D pills are available in two forms: vitamin D2 (“ergocalciferol” or pre-vitamin D) and vitamin D3 (“cholecalciferol”). Both are also naturally occurring forms that are produced in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays, hence its nickname, “the sunshine vitamin,” but D2 is produced in plants and fungi and D3 in animals, including humans. Vitamin D production in the skin is the primary natural source of vitamin D, but many people have insufficient levels because they live in places where sunlight is limited in winter, or because they have limited sun exposure due to being inside much of the time. Also, people with darker skin tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D because the pigment (melanin) acts like a shade, reducing production of vitamin D (and reducing damaging effects of sunlight on skin, including skin cancer). When taking D3 pills, ensure they are vegan. Fungi and yeasts produce vitamin D2 in response to UVB exposure, with wild mushrooms having the highest content.

Vitamin E from natural foods: Vitamin E is found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Wheat germ oil. Sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil. Sunflower seeds. Almonds. Peanuts, peanut butter. Beet greens, collard greens, spinach. Pumpkin. Red bell pepper. Asparagus. Mango. Avocado.

Vitamin K from natural foods: For phylloquinone in green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale, and spinach, turnip greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuces. Salad dressings made with soybean or canola oil. Fortified meal replacement shakes. For menaquinones, fermented foods and can also be produced by bacteria in the human body. There is also natto, (fermented soybeans). Because vitamin K is fat-soluble, it is best to eat vitamin K foods with some fat to improve absorption. So, drizzle some olive oil or add diced avocado to your favourite green leaf salad!

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) from natural foods: Fortified vegan breakfast cereals, milks and yoghurts, bakers yeast, beans (navy and black beans), lentils, green peas, tofu, breads, noodles, rice, sunflower seeds,  barley, whole grains, oatmeal, corn, bread, muffins, macaroni, 
flax, squash, asparagus, sweet potato. 

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) from natural foods: Enriched grains are good sources of riboflavin. Quinoa and some fruits and vegetables contain riboflavin, beans, peas, lentils; nuts and seeds; and soy products. Mushrooms. Fortified foods. Spinach, avocados.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) from natural foods: Manufactured by plants from the amino acid tryptophan. Niacin is obtained from a variety of whole, processed, and fortified foods. Nuts, legumes, grains, and seeds. Some countries add niacin to wheat flour or other food grains to avoid pellagra. Avocado, mushrooms, potatoes, bananas, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, raisins, mangos, nectarines, soy milk.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) from natural foods: Potatoes, tomato products, oat-cereals, sunflower seeds, avocado and mushrooms are good vegan sources. Whole grains are another source of the vitamin but milling to make white rice or white flour removes much of the pantothenic acid, as it is found in the outer layers of whole grains. Alfalfa, cereal, peanut meal, molasses, rice bran, wheat bran, and yeasts.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) from natural foods: Peanuts, soya beans, wheatgerm, oats, bananas, some fortified breakfast cereals, and the bacteria living in our bowl can also make B6 (pyridoxine). Potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (other than citrus)

Vitamin B7 or H (biotin) from natural foods: Haar und Haut – hair and skin. Biotin is also found in a wide range of foods, but only at very low levels. Avocado, sweet potato, legumes, nuts (almonds), seeds (sunflower), spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, oatmeal, bananas, whole breads, apple. The bacteria that live naturally in your bowel can make biotin. 

Vitamin B9 (folate) from natural foods: Folate is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, spring greens and spinach, peas, chickpeas and kidney beans, breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) from natural foods: Pills, injections, and fortified foods (nutritional and brewer’s yeast, breakfast cereals, enriched soy, or rice milk), duckweed (water lentils) contain B12 in its free form, so they are more easily absorbed. There is a variety of vitamin B12 supplements available. Although there are claims that certain forms—like sublingual tablets or liquids placed under the tongue to be absorbed through the tissues of the mouth—have better absorption than traditional tablets, studies have not shown an important difference. Vitamin B12 tablets are available in high dosages far above the recommended dietary allowance, but these high amounts are not necessarily the amount that will be absorbed because an adequate amount of intrinsic factor is also needed. In cases of severe vitamin B12 deficiency due to inadequate intrinsic factor (pernicious anaemia), doctors may prescribe B12 injections in the muscle.