Vitamins are essential nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly. Plant based foods are rich sources of all the essential vitamins required by our bodies (with the exception of Vitamin B-12 / and Vitamin D if you do not get enough sunlight), without any of the harmful saturated fats, acidic proteins, cholesterol, lactose and other contaminants present in meat and dairy products.
There are 2 types of Vitamins – fat soluble & water soluble.
Fat soluble vitamins: Fat-soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods such as animal fats, including butter and lard, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish. Your body stores these vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for future use. These stores can build up so they are there when you need them. If you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K.
Water soluble vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so you need to have them more frequently. If you have more than you need, your body gets rid of the extra vitamins when you urinate. As the body does not store water-soluble vitamins, these vitamins are generally not harmful. Water soluble vitamins are C and the B vitamins.
Health benefits: vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell functions, immune system.
Plant based sources: Colorful fruits & vegetables.
The B vitamins are B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B2 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B12 and Folic Acid.
Heath benefits: these vitamins help our bodies extract energy out of food, and also help in the formation of red blood cells.
Plant based Sources: Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas. Many cereals and some breads have added B vitamins.
Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products and fortified foods, such as many breakfast cereals and soy milks. As such, most vegans are likely to be deficient in Vitamin B12 (the only real nutritional deficiency in a vegan diet). People looking at shifting to a vegan diet, should consider taking VItamin B12 supplments to ensure no B12 deficiency.
Health benefits: Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It is important for your skin, bones, and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron.
Sources: Vitamin C comes from fruits and vegetables. Good sources include citrus, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and greens. Some juices and cereals have added vitamin C.
Health benefits: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. Vitamin D also has a role in your nerve, muscle, and immune systems.
Sources: Our bodies form Vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. People who do not get enough sunlight should consider taking Vitamin D supplements or from certain foods that contain Vitamin D.
Health benefits: Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It plays a role in your immune system and metabolic processes.
Sources: Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oil, margarine, nuts & seeds and leafy greens.
Health benefits: Vitamin K helps your body by making proteins for healthy bones and tissues. It also makes proteins for blood clotting.
Sources: Leafy greens and dark berries are good sources of Vitamin K.