TABLE 3.

Functions and Food Sources of Vitamins

VitaminChief Functions in the BodySignificant Sources
Vitamin AVisual adaptation to light and dark; growth of skin and mucous membraneRetinol (animal foods): liver, egg yolk, fortified milk, cheese, cream, butter, and fortified margarine
Carotene (plant foods): spinach and other dark leafy greens, broccoli, deep orange fruits (apricots and cantaloupe) and vegetables (squash, carrots, sweet potato, and pumpkin)
Vitamin DAbsorption of calcium and phosphorus; calcification of bonesSelf-synthesis from sunlight; fortified milk, fortified margarine, eggs, liver, and fish oils
Vitamin EAntioxidant, stabilization of cell membranes, protection of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin APolyunsaturated plant oils, green and leafy vegetables, wheat germ, whole-grain products, nuts, and seeds
Vitamin KNormal blood clottingBacterial synthesis in the digestive tract; green leafy vegetables, milk and dairy products, meats, eggs, and cereals
Thiamin (B1)Coenzyme in carbohydrate metabolism; normal function of the heart, nerves, and musclePork, beef, liver, whole or enriched grains, legumes, and nuts
Riboflavin (B2)Coenzyme in protein and energy metabolismMilk, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, leafy green vegetables, whole or enriched grains and cereals
Niacin (B3)Coenzyme in energy production, health of skin, normal activity of stomach, intestines, and nervous systemMeat, peanuts, legumes, and whole or enriched grains
Pyridoxine (B6)Coenzyme in amino acid metabolism; helps convert tryptophan to niacin; heme formationGrains, seeds, liver, meats, milk, eggs, and vegetables
Cyanocobalamin (B12)Coenzyme in synthesis of heme in hemoglobin; normal blood cell formationAnimal products (meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, milk, cheese, and eggs)
Folic acidPart of DNA; growth and development of red blood cellsLiver, leafy green vegetables, legumes, seeds, and yeast
Pantothenic acidPart of coenzyme A, which is used in energy metabolism; formation of fat, cholesterol, and heme; activation of amino acidsMeats, cereals, legumes, milk, fruits, and vegetables
BiotinPart of coenzyme A, which is used in energy metabolism; involved in lipid synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and glycogen synthesisLiver, egg yolk, soy flour, cereals, tomatoes, and yeast
Vitamin CCollagen synthesis (strengthens blood vessel walls, forms scar tissue, matrix for bone growth); antioxidant; thyroxine synthesis; strengthens resistance to infection; helps with absorption of ironCitrus fruits, tomato, cabbage, dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, chard, turnip greens, potatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, strawberries, melons, papayas, and mangos