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Major Functions and Sources of Selected Vitamins

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Vitamins are used to produce energy and synthesize tissues, enzymes, hormones, and other vital compounds. The table below groups vitamins into those soluble in fat and those soluble in water and provides major functions and sources of vitamins.

Vitamin Function Sources
Fat-Soluble Vitamins    
Vitamin A Promotes normal growth of bones, growth and repair of body tissues; bone and tooth formation; vision; antioxidant in the form of beta-carotene Milk, butter, dairy products, dark green vegetables, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables
Vitamin D Regulates absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus; aids in building and maintaining bones and teeth Direct exposure of the skin to sunlight, fortified milk, margarine, eggs, liver, fish
Vitamin E Protects red blood cells; antioxidant (protects fat-soluble vitamins); stabilizes cell membranes Vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, egg yolks, salad dressings, mayonnaise, wheat germ, whole grains
Vitamin K Required for synthesis of blood-clotting proteins Bacterial synthesis in digestive tract, dark green leafy vegetables, liver, milk, grain products, egg yolk
Water-Soluble Vitamins    
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Plays an important role in collagen formation (helps heal wounds, maintains bones and teeth, strengthens blood vessels); antioxidant; strengthens resistance to infection and helps body absorb iron Citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, potatoes, dark green vegetables, peppers, lettuce, cantaloupe, strawberries, mangoes, papayas, cauliflower
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) Helps enzymes release energy from carbohydrates Meat, pork, liver, fish, poultry, whole-grain and enriched breads, cereals, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) Helps enzymes release energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat; promotes healthy skin and good vision Milk, cheese, yogurt, enriched breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables, fish, liver, lean meats, yeast
Niacin (nicotinic acid) Helps enzymes release energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat; promotes healthy skin, nerves, and digestive system Yeast, whole grains and enriched breads and cereals, milk, meats, nuts, legumes, peanuts
Folate (folic acid) Required for red blood cell formation, new cell division, protein metabolism Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, enriched grains and cereals, legumes, seeds, melons, yeast, orange juice, asparagus
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) Required for amino acid metabolism; used in protein and fat metabolism; aids in forming red blood cells and antibodies Dark green leafy vegetables, whole-grain products, meats, liver, poultry, fish, shellfish, soybeans, wheat germ, fruits
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) Necessary for normal growth; helps maintain nerve cells and red blood cells; aids in synthesis of genetic materials Primarily in animal products meat, fish, poultry, liver, eggs, milk and milk products, fortified cereals
Biotin Coenzyme in energy metabolism; glycogen formation; fat synthesis Legumes, egg yolks, chocolate, cauliflower, yeast, liver, nuts, milk
Pantothenic acid Component of coenzyme for energy metabolism Legumes, whole grains, lean beef, milk, potatoes, yeast, egg yolks, liver, peanuts, tomatoes, broccoli, fish, poultry; small amounts in fruits and vegetables
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