Reports by Health Canada show that many Canadians age 19 and older have inadequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. These vitamins are essential to our general health and well-being. Are you worried about vitamin deficiency? Learn more about what these vitamins do for your body and where you can get them.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in your body. It promotes healthy skin and eyes and strengthens the immune system. It promotes normal growth and development. Deficiencies can cause impaired immunity, rashes and vision problems. According to Merck Manuals deficiencies can result from inadequate intake, fat malabsorption, or liver disorders.
Vitamin A comes from animal sources like liver, dairy and fish, and from dark green, yellow, orange and red vegetables and fruits.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin stored in the liver and derived only from animal sources and fortified foods. It builds red blood cells, forms DNA, promotes a healthy nervous system and provides energy. Deficiencies can result in nerve damage and anemia. Deficiencies can result when people do not consume enough vitamin B 12 in their diet or when the body does not absorb or store enough of the vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, fish and poultry. (Soy and rice are sometimes fortified with Vitamin B12)
Ten to thirty percent of older people may not absorb vitamin B12 well. Health Canada advises adults over 50 to consume foods fortified with vitamin B12 or a supplement containing vitamin B12.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which is not stored in large amounts in the body, so it needs to be consumed daily. It is important for growth and repair of bones, teeth and gums, skin and other tissues. It increases absorption of iron from plant foods, helps prevent cell damage and may reduce risks for certain infections, cancers and other chronic diseases by supporting the immune system. Extreme deficiency can cause scurvy.
Vitamin C is found in vegetables and fruits. Be aware that cooking can reduce some of the benefits!
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored mainly in the liver. It is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is made by our bodies when exposed to the sun. It enhances immune function and improves muscle strength. Research indicates it may help fight infections, reducing heart disease risk factors, preventing diabetes, MS and other types of cancers.
Vitamin D is found in a limited number of foods. Egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines contain substantial amounts. Yogurt and cheese made with fortified milk, Goat's milk, plant-based beverages and orange juice may have Vitamin D added. Vitamin D must be eaten with fat to be absorbed.