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The Highest Food Sources of Each Vitamin & Mineral

Getting our vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat is easier said than done.

While it’s essential that we always remember to take a food-first approach, there are a few reasons we may not be able to get everything from food alone.

We’ll take a look at various fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins needed to achieve optimal health. Plus, we’ll look at the foods you need to eat to make sure you are hitting the recommended daily value, and when it may be appropriate to choose a food-based supplement to bridge the gap and prevent any nutritional deficiencies.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is most commonly known for supporting vision health, but it also plays a role in supporting a strong immune system, as well as supporting red blood cell formation.

Type: Fat-soluble

Vitamin A Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness, as not getting enough can lead to vision issues, including vision loss if the deficiency isn’t addressed. (1)
  • The most common symptom of vitamin A deficiency is a condition called xerophthalmia, which causes a person to lose the ability to see in low light.

Food Sources High in Vitamin A:

  • Foods rich in vitamin A include dark leafy greens, orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, as well as red bell peppers, eggs, and cantaloupe.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • The recommended RDA for women is 700 mcg RAE, and 900 mcg RAE for men.
  • In one sweet potato, you can get 1,403 mcg RAE per serving, which is well over that your body needs each day, so getting enough vitamin A from diet is fairly easy to achieve.

Vitamin C

Most commonly known for its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body, which can help ward off free radicals from causing cell damage. We are exposed to free radicals from things we can’t necessarily control, such as pollution, so getting enough vitamin C is key. Vitamin C also helps the body make collagen, which is essential for gut health, muscle recovery, wound healing. (2)

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin C Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Not getting enough vitamin C is rare, but if you get less than 10 mg per day, it can cause scurvy, which can cause symptoms like fatigue, gum inflammation, loss of teeth, and depression. (3)

Food Sources High in Vitamin C:

  • Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, cantaloupe, papaya, broccoli, and cauliflower.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Adult women need 75 mg of vitamin C per day
  • Adult Men need 90 mg.

You can get far more than the recommended value of vitamin C in just one red bell pepper, providing you with nearly 340 mg of vitamin C. Now, that’s impressive! Vitamin C is another vitamin that’s easy to get through diet.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vitamin that acts as a hormone in the body. It helps support immune health and helps control blood calcium levels. (4) It’s the vitamin that many of us strive to get more of during cold and flu season, but something many of us need more of all year long.

Type: Fat-soluble

Vitamin D Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • For infants, not getting enough vitamin D can lead to a condition called rickets, where bones become soft. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause muscle weakness and bone pain. (5)

Food Sources High in Vitamin D:

  • Cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, and eggs are all considered vitamin D rich foods.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Both men and women need 600 IU’s of vitamin D per day.
  • One teaspoon of cod liver oil contains about 450 IU of vitamin D, getting you close to that recommended daily value, but not quite there. (6)
  • Wild-caught salmon can help you reach the daily recommended value, but you would have to consume it every single day, and it must be wild-caught as farm-raised is not nearly as rich in vitamin D. Per 3.5-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon, you can pack in about 988 IU’s of vitamin D. (7)

It’s much more difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet than other vitamins. This is because there aren’t too many food sources containing this vitamin.  

Vitamin E

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping to keep the immune system strong. It’s important for fighting off germs, and also free radicals we come in contact with from things like pollution and second-hand smoke. (8)

Type: Fat-soluble

Vitamin E Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • While a vitamin E deficiency is rare, it can occur in those who don’t absorb fat properly, such as those with Crohn's disease or cystic fibrosis. It can lead to symptoms such as nerve and muscle damage, muscle weakness, and vision problems. Having a weak immune system can also be a sign you may not be getting enough vitamin E. (9)

Food Sources High in Vitamin E:

  • Some foods rich in vitamin E include almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, broccoli, and spinach.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Both men and women need 15 mg of vitamin E per day.
  • One ounce of almonds contains 7.3 mg of vitamin E, so you would need to eat about two ounces in order to reach the recommended daily intake.
  • To get your 15 mg of vitamin E from hazelnuts, you would need to consume about 3.5 ounces to get a little more than 15 mg per day. (10) That would be a very large serving of hazelnuts!

You would have to consume quite a large portion of nuts and seeds per day to get the recommended daily value of vitamin E.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K helps support blood clotting and bone health.

Type: Fat-soluble 

Vitamin K Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Bleeding and hemorrhage are two of the most common symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency. However, osteoporosis can also be a symptom as not getting enough vitamin K can impair bone remineralization. (11)

Food Sources High in Vitamin K:

  • Foods rich in vitamin K include collard greens, turnips, spinach, kale, broccoli, and pumpkin.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Women need 90 mcg of vitamin K per day, and men need 120 mcg.
  • You can get enough by eating half a cup of collard greens per day, which would provide you with 850 mcg. One cup of spinach will also pack in 145 mcg, which will also get you to your recommended daily intake. (12)

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is a water-soluble B vitamin that helps convert food to energy and helps support nervous system function. Vitamin B1 also helps with growth and development, and the normal functioning of cells. (13)

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin B1 Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • One of the earliest symptoms of a thiamine deficiency is weight loss, short-term memory loss, or confusion. Thiamine deficiency can also lead to a condition called beriberi, which causes peripheral neuropathy, and it can lead to a loss of motor as well as sensory functions. (14)

Food Sources High in Vitamin B1:

  • Foods rich in B1 include trout, black beans, mussels, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Women need 1.1 mg of thiamine per day, while men need 1.2 mg.
  • In order to get enough from diet only, you would have to consume about 1 ½ cups of black beans, or 12 ounces of sunflower seeds to make sure you are getting enough. No one (hopefully) is going to eat that many sunflower seeds in one sitting!

If you aren’t consuming large amounts of beans, or trout, then supplementing may be necessary.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, helps with red blood cell formation and in converting the food we eat into energy.

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin B2 Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Those who are vegetarian or vegan, pregnant, or breastfeeding may be at an increased risk of deficiency. (15) Vegetarians are at-risk because B-vitamins are abundant in animal-based foods, and not as much in plant-based foods. Deficiencies can lead to thyroid health issues, hair loss, itchiness, and sore throat.

Food Sources High in Vitamin B2:

  • Foods rich in vitamin B2 include beef liver, yogurt, beef, mushrooms, egg, poultry.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Women need 1.1 mg of B2 per day, while men need 1.3 mg.
  • To put this into perspective, you would need to consume 3-ounces of beef liver per day, which would provide 2.9 mg of B2, or consume two whole cups of mushrooms to provide you with 1.2 mg. That’s a lot of mushrooms, and not likely something you would consume each day.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, also helps convert food to energy, and supports the production of cholesterol.

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin B3 Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Having an extreme niacin deficiency can lead to a skin condition called pellagra, which causes brown skin discoloration, or a rash with pigmentation when you are exposed to the sun. Those who are undernourished are at an increased risk of developing a niacin deficiency. (16)

Food Sources High in Vitamin B3:

  • Foods rich in B3 include beef liver, chicken breast, turkey breast, sockeye salmon, and tuna.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Women need 14 mg of niacin per day, while men need 16 mg.
  • In order to get this from food, you would have to consume 3-ounces of beef liver per day to pack in just about 15 mg. If beef liver isn’t appealing to you, you can also get a decent amount of niacin from 3-ounces of chicken or turkey breast, which would provide 10.3 mg of niacin. (17)

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid, and it helps support the nervous system, red blood cell formation, and in converting food to energy.

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin B5 Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Not getting enough B5 can lead to symptoms like headache, numbness in the hands and feet, fatigue, and stomach discomfort. (18)

Food Sources High in Vitamin B5:

  • Foods rich in B5 include beef liver, shiitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chicken breast, tuna, and avocado.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Both men and women need 5 mg of B5 per day. To get this from food, you would have to consume 3-ounces of beef liver per day to provide you with 8.3 mg, or 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms to provide 5.2 mg. (19)

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps to keep our immune system strong, and helps metabolize protein, carbs, and fat.

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin B6 Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Not getting enough B6 can lead to symptoms such as dermatitis, cracks on the corners of the mouth, depression, confusion, and poor immune function. (20)

Food Sources High in Vitamin B6:

  • Foods rich in B6 include salmon, tuna, potatoes, and chickpeas.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Both men and women need 1.3 mg of B6 per day. To get this from diet, you would have to consume a little more than one cup of chickpeas per day. One cup would provide you with 1.1 mg of B6, and 3-ounces of beef liver would get you close, providing you with 0.9 mg. (21)

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps support nervous system function and converting food into energy.

Type: Water-soluble

Vitamin B12 Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Not getting enough B12 can lead to weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, numbness as well as tingling in the hands and feet, confusion, and depression. (22)

Food Sources High in Vitamin B12:

  • Foods rich in B12 include eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Both men and women need to get 2.4 mcg of B12 per day. You could get far more than this by consuming 3-ounces of clams, which would give you 84.1 mcg of B12, and 3-ounces of sockeye salmon will pack in 4.8 mcg. (23)

Biotin

Biotin is most commonly known for supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails, but it also helps with energy storage and supports protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Type: Water-soluble

Biotin Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Signs of a biotin deficiency include thinning hair, or hair loss, a rash around the eyes, nose, or mouth, and conjunctivitis. (24)

Food Sources High in Biotin:

  • Foods rich in biotin include eggs, whole grains, salmon, liver, pork, avocados, cauliflower, raspberries.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Both men and women need 30 mcg of biotin per day. Again, beef liver is going to be the best source, packing in 30.8 mcg in a 3-ounce serving. However, if you don’t eat beef liver, one whole egg can pack in 10 mcg, so eating three eggs could help you get to that recommended daily value. (25)

Folate

Folate is most well-known for helping prevent neural tube defects, which is why pregnant women have an increased need to supplement with folate, but it also helps support red blood cell formation and protein metabolism.

Type: Water-soluble

Folate Deficiency & Symptoms:

  • Not getting enough folate can lead to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, irritability, and headache.

Food Sources High in Folate:

  • Foods rich in folate include dark leafy greens, avocado, and asparagus.

How much of a specific food would you have to eat to reach daily value?

  • Men and women need 400 mcg of folate per day. Pregnant women need 600 mcg, and breastfeeding women need 500 mcg. In order to get the 400 mcg per day from diet, you would have to consume about 1.5 cups of spinach per day, 6-ounces of beef liver, or about 18 spears of asparagus. That’s a ton of food, and if you aren’t consuming these foods regularly, supplementing may be a good option. (26)

The Bottom Line

Due to soil depletion, or not getting enough nutrients from diet alone, many people would benefit from supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin. Adding a food-based multi to your supplement routine can ensure that you are getting what your body needs to prevent deficiency and support overall health.

Start by focusing on food first, and then consider supplementation to bridge the gap. And, remember that when choosing a multi, stick to a food-based option to boost bioavailability, and get the best bang for your buck, while also giving your body something that it can recognize and use.

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4 comments

  • aQDUqWxRuXTV 03:07 PM

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  • Gilbert John Thomas 02:26 AM

    Hello Team, Thank you for the information on Vitamins. At the moment I take range of Vitamins daily. I also have one scoop of Field Of Greens EVERY morning for past 3 months.I feel happy that I’m taking FOG, I consider it to be a great rare product .Any further advice and benifits of FOG will be very helpful. Thank You , Gilbert John Thomas Australia

  • Jerry Rowland 09:25 PM

    All the products offers by BrickHouse are awesome. If BrickHouse Nutrition offered a multi vitamin I would add that to my regular orders. Please develop one!

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