How to get your micronutrients: Part 1 - Vitamins
Updated: Apr 14
Firstly, what are micronutrients?
Micronutrients are all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, Everything from Vitamin A to Zinc. In the world of healthy eating, micronutrients tend to get a little neglected. In the world of healthy eating and weight loss its easy to get caught up with calories, carbs and fat contents and when we are so focused on our macro's that we may well be excluding vital micronutrients from our diet unintentionally.
I personally don't track macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) or have a specific ratio. Some days I'm high in carbs, other days I'm high in healthy fats, overall, I'm more focused on how nourished my body is and how the foods fuel my body with vitamins and minerals. Its not sustainable to track every micronutrient of every food, for a start, most of that information isn't readily available and there are so many different micronutrients that it would take forever....seriously, it took me 3 full days to make 1 day meal plan that hits all micronutrients. This means its handy to learn about what foods have certain vitamins and minerals so i can plan my meals, in my head, without getting to bogged down with the numbers.
If you want to skip ahead to find out about minerals, please check out part 2 - Minerals
Vitamin A - 700ug
Vitamin A contributes to your immune system, your eyesight and it also helps the absorption of iron. It is abundant in oily fish like Tuna at 655ug per 100g or Mackerel with 252ug for the same weight. Its also quite high in most cheeses and dairy products, for example, 100g Goats cheese has 407ug of vitamin A and Cheddar has 330ug per 100g. The best plant based choices for Vitamin A are sweet potatoes with 330ug per 100g or fresh spinach with 130ug per 100g. Carrots have a whopping 618ug per 100g but that's nothing compared to the highest source of vitamin A on the planet: Veal liver, with a staggering 11,707ug per 100g which is one of the reasons why health professionals recommend eating liver or liver products in moderation and not as part of a regular diet.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - 1.1mg
Thiamine was the first B vitamin ever discovered, hence the title B1. It helps our body turn food into energy by creating a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate that transports energy within the cells. Its in most foods in small amounts so its really easy to make sure your getting enough, deficiencies in this mineral are very rare and typically only seen in people suffering from Anorexia or other forms of extreme malnourishment. 100g of lean pork has 0.98mg of your RDA. Salmon has 0.45mg per 100g. Sweet potatoes have 0.17mg of B1 whilst garden peas have 0.74mg per 100g.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - 1.1mg
Riboflavin, also known as B2 works in a similar way to B1, it helps convert the chemical energy from oxygen molecules, in other words, it controls cell respiration. Generally, Riboflavin is found in meats and dairy products with 0.21mg in 100g of sardines, 0.47mg in 100g of raw egg. Vegans can find 0.67mg in 100g of soya beans and most imitation meats and dairies are fortified with B vitamins if you choose to consume those products. If your trying to eat a clean wholefoods based diet you may want to be aware that imitation meats are filled with preservatives and additives and generally are not very healthy.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - 14mg
Niacin, also known as B3 or Nicotinic acid is another vitamin that helps convert energy into food. It is particularly important for brain health and the nervous system and has also been used to aid heart conditions by increasing good cholesterol although some scientists dispute the long term use of strong Niacin supplements due to effects on the liver. Its a really easy vitamin to get without much thought as with many of the B vitamins, its abundant in most meats, dairy products and fish. Tuna has 12.8mg per 100g which is almost your entire RDA, chicken has 4.2mg per 100g whilst the highest plant based option is peanut butter with 13.7mg per 100g (which is about 4 servings) and brown basmati rice has 6.5mg of B3 per 100g cooked weight.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) - 5mg
Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid is a vitamin that isn't talked about often, that's because its found in a wide range of foods, and deficiencies are extremely rare, its one that you don't really need to worry about. Chicken has 1.26mg of B5 per 100g. 100g of egg is 1.35mg and the same weight of avocado holds 1.1mg. Vitamin B5 is good for your skin and hair and is often added to cosmetic products.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - 1.2mg
Vitamin B6 helps our body form haemoglobin which is the substance that carry oxygen within red blood cells. Its good for our mental health and reduction of tiredness and fatigue. There is 0.51mg in 100g of chicken, 0.32mg in 100g of potato skins and 0.36mg in 100g of avocado.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) - 30ug
There are no clear guidelines on how much Biotin we should include in our diet, this is because the bacteria in our gut makes B7 naturally, so scientists are still not yet sure if we need any extra from our diet. A couple of medical based websites suggested around 30ug per day for adults however many people are recommended supplements for skin issues and hair loss and these often exceed doses of 1000ug. 100g of eggs contain 19.5ug of Biotin whilst Chicken liver contains 210ug per 100g. 100g of peanut butter would give you 102mg of Biotin.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) - 200ug
Folate, also known as Folic Acid or B9 is essential for creating DNA and RNA and is especially important during pregnancy, pregnant women should increase their intake by 400ug for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Good sources of B7 include Edamame beans with 100g providing 134ug. 100g of fresh spinach contains 161ug of Folate and Strawberries have 61ug per 100g.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) - 1.5ug
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is used to help our body absorb Folate, another B vitamin. It also helps our body to release energy from the food we eat. B12 is found in meat, dairy and oily fish like salmon which contains 4.4ug per 100g. It is not naturally found in any plant based food and vegans may want to consider a supplement or fortified food.
Vitamin C - 75mg
Vitamin C is probably one of the best known vitamins, its great for your immune system and energy levels. Its found in fruit such as oranges, carrying 52mg per 100g but also in some vegetables such as red peppers which hold 126mg per 100g. Without any vitamin C we would develop a condition called scurvy which is characterised by fatigue, muscle soreness, bruising and bleeding gums. It used to be very common amongst sailors who did not travel with fresh foods like fruit but in modern life, scurvy is very rare.
Choline - 425mg
Choline is a relatively new discovery in the world of biology and nutrition, it wasn't discovered until 1998 and RDA's are still up for debate amongst nutritionists. Choline helps the liver function and enables the body to process fats efficiently. Its also said to help heart health, metabolism and improve cell structure. On top of this it contributes to a healthy nervous system so although its a lesser known vitamin, it really is an important one. Choline is abundant in offal such as liver and heart with 333mg in 100g of lambs liver. Eggs are also rich in choline with 285mg per 100g. For plant based health enthusiasts the richest source of choline is Haricot beans, containing just 27mg per 100g.
Vitamin D - 15ug
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin helps us absorb calcium, it also plays a huge role in maintaining our mental health. Although we do get vitamin D from food, our bodies also create it from sunlight. This is a common reason why many people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder find that their mental health declines in winter when their vitamin D levels drop. Ideally, you should aim to spend 30 minutes outside during day light per day along with the RDA in your food. You can get Vitamin D in your diet from meat, fish and dairy. Mackerel contains 9.1ug per 100g and 100g of egg yolk provides 12.8ug. Vitamin D is only found in very small amounts in plant based foods with the exception of UV mushrooms which have 32ug per 100g raw weight. These mushrooms have been exposed to UV light meaning they have a much higher level of Vitamin D to other mushrooms.
Vitamin E - 4mg
Vitamin E supports your skin, eyesight and immune system. Vitamin E is usually found in foods with a high fat content such as oily fish, seeds and nuts. 100g of salmon contains 3.7mg of vitamin E. 100g of Almonds holds 25.6mg whilst Avocados have 3.2mg per 100g.
Vitamin K - 90ug
Vitamin K helps our blood to clot when we have an injury. There is also some evidence to suggest vitamin K improves our bone health. Many foods are extremely high in Vitamin K and deficiencies are rare. RDAs are based on weight, calling for 1ug per KG of body weight. This means that someone weighing 65kg would need 60ug whereas someone weighing 120kg would need 120ug per day. Vitamin K can be found in most vegetables although its particularly high in leafy greens such as spinach holding 394ug per 100g and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, containing 185ug per 100g.
That concludes our list of vitamins and where to find them. If you want to try tracking your micronutrients to see where your at and what you need more of, I would recommend trying a tracking app such as Cronometer or a website like CheckYourFood.com. Go check out part 2 of this blog which will be focusing on the minerals in your diet. Follow my social medias to make sure you don't miss out! 'HealthyHeartyWholesome' on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr .