Although the goal is to get our nutrients from our food, in reality, our quick-paced lifestyles and on-the-go eating can make it challenging to get all the vitamins and nutrients we need. 

Once we understand the health benefits of these nutrients and the foods that provide them, we can get a clearer picture of a well-rounded diet plan, as well as any additional vitamins or supplements we might need.

There are 13 essential vitamins that are necessary in our daily diet. They fall into two categories - water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins are most readily absorbed when ingested with dietary fat. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins.

The other nine vitamins—that’s vitamin C and all the Bs—are water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins must be absorbed right away. Whatever isn’t absorbed will just pass through your urine.

Making sure you’re getting all the 13 vitamins every day can be tough. Your best bet? Eat at a well-rounded diet full of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains. That way, your body will get the nutrients it needs to function—and you can be your best self from the inside out.  However, if you cannot get all your nutrients from your diet, you might consider supplements.  Here is a breakdown of some of the main vitamins and a link to a full chart of all 13 essential vitamins.

  • Getty Images/EyeEm
    Getty Images/EyeEm

    Vitamin A

    This vitamin is essential for maintaining the health of our teeth, skin, as well as our bones. Dark leafy vegetables such as arugula and spinach and dark-colored fruits such as blackberries or blueberries would be your go-to for this vitamin. It can also be found in butter, beef and fish are also options. Egg yolks, cream, cheeses, and yogurt also provide this fat-soluble vitamin.

  • Getty Images/Westend61
    Getty Images/Westend61

    Vitamin D

    Most of us know that the sun naturally provides us with this vitamin. Only 15 minutes of the sun three times a week provides the body with its Vitamin D requirement. However,  if going in the sun isn’t an option, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring can provide us with this vitamin. If you’re not a fish person, fortified cereals along with fortified milk and dairy products can be an option for your diet.

  • Getty Images
    Getty Images

    Vitamins E & K

    Vitamin E and Vitamin K are essential to one another. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps create red blood cells, and also to use Vitamin K. Vitamin K is vital for the coagulation (clotting) of blood. Foods that provide both these vitamins are dark green vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus, as well as dark leafy vegetables such as spinach or turnip greens. There is also cauliflower as a choice which provides Vitamin K, and avocados that provide Vitamin E.

  • Getty Images
    Getty Images

    Vitamins B6 & B12

    B Vitamins are important for metabolism. Vitamin B6 also forms red blood cells, as well as maintain normal brain function. Bananas, avocados, whole grains, and nuts provide this “brain food.” Vitamin B12, as well as B6, forms red blood cells. It is also essential for maintaining our central nervous system. Soy milk, meat, poultry, eggs, and shellfish can assist in maintaining healthy levels of this vitamin.

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