I’m sure we are all aware that there are numerous vitamins. We encounter them all the time in the fitness and health media, our supermarket shelves are bursting with them, entire shops are dedicated to them and much of what we eat – if we are eating properly – is made up of them. But honestly, what do you know about them?

There are so many options!

We see row upon row of vitamin tablets, capsules and soluble powders in chemists and health food shops. Invariably they carry bafflingly multisyllabic words of impenetrably technical science. We know they are fundamentally good for us and fulfil a vital role. But what is what and what does what?


Now we are pushing through Autumn and into Winter, this is a time of shifting temperatures and a more damp atmosphere and , as a result, we are often a bit more susceptible to illness, this would seem like the ideal time to offer up a no nonsense and easy to understand vitamin breakdown.

Vitamins and their unique benefits

Vitamin A

Effects – Helps night vision, brings sheen to hair, clear skin and strengthens teeth.

Sources – Liver, dairy, dark green vegetables, apricots, peaches, carrots, eggs.


Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Effects – Helps burn carbohydrates for fuel.

Sources – Lean meat, peas, asparagus, oranges, whole grains, avocados, enriched and fortified grains.


Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Effects – Helps manufacture red blood cells, unlocks energy found in carbs.

Sources – Dairy, lean meats, chicken, dark green vegetable, sardines, eggs, tuna, whole grains, oysters.

Vitamin Vitality_2

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Effects – Keeps skin, nerves and digestive tract healthy.Unlocks energy in carbs. Can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL).

Sources – Lean meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, eggs, legumes.


Vitamin B6 (Pyroxdine)

Effects – Fights infections, helps build amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

Sources – Lean meat, liver, fish, nuts, poultry, bananas, legumes, whole grains.


Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Effects – Reduces risk of heart disease and cancer. Can also fight against birth defects such as spina bifida.

Sources – Lean meat, egg yolks, shellfish, fish, dairy.


Folic Acid (Folacin)

Effects – Helps form enzymes and haemoglobin.

Sources – Meat, dark green and leafy vegetables, asparagus, whole grains, nuts, legumes.


Vitamin C (Citric Acid)

Effects – Helps resist infections, helps cuts heal faster, a powerful antioxidant (which help attack the free radicals that cause ageing effects and immune system breakdown).

Sources – Citrus fruits, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus, dark green vegetables.


Vitamin D

Effects – Strengthens bones and teeth by absorbing calcium. May help prevent colon cancer.

Sources – Milk, egg yolks , fortified breakfast cereals, sunlight.


Vitamin E.

Effects – Keeps body tissues healthy and acts as an antioxidant.

Sources Plant oils, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, liver, egg yolks, legumes.


Hopefully that is a helpful guide and reference for you. These are valuable vitamins and it is so useful to know where they exist in your diet. Perhaps you can now adjust your eating habits a little to incorporate more vitamin enriched ingredients. This should help fight the ravages of the colder wetter, darker months and keep you in good health as we edge nearer 2016!

Read more from Expert Kate Staples


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