11 May 2020

Which whole foods for which vitamins?

author Ashley Owen
Feel you are lacking something from your diet? Notice physical symptoms of nutrient deficiency? Let's dive into the multitude of vitamin-packed whole foods which can help you back on the way to feeling great.

Beta-carotene: Precursor to Vitamin A

Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which the body turns into vitamin A. It is also a bright pigment, which gives sweet potato, carrots and sea buckthorn their cheerful colour. In fact, its name comes from the Latin word for carrot, Daucus carota.

It's not surprising, then, that the humble carrot is one of the best whole food sources of beta-carotene, delivering around 8332μg of beta-carotene per 100g of cooked carrots.

There are lots of health benefits to getting plenty of vitamin A, including taking care of your eyesight. Beta-carotene may also improve how your skin responds to the sun.(2)

There a few good things to bear in mind when increasing your intake of beta-carotene. Firstly, unlike some other substances which are water-soluble, stores of beta-carotene may be higher in cooked vegetables than in raw.(3)

Secondly, vitamin A is fat-soluble. So, you should eat your cooked carrots with healthy fats in order to maximise your intake of beta-carotene. We love eating roasted carrots with lemon and rosemary and then drizzling them generously with extra virgin olive oil. A final scatter of vitamin-packed chopped almonds and pomegranate seeds turns this simple dish into a delicious side to almost any meal.→ View Related Products

If you visit Erbology regularly, you'll know that we always advocate for getting your vitamins and minerals through your diet rather than via supplements. This is especially relevant for beta-carotene and vitamin A. Research suggests that consuming too much beta-carotene through supplements (it's almost impossible to eat too much via whole foods) may increase the risk of lung cancer. This is particularly true for smokers.(1)

Other whole foods rich in beta-carotene

  • Sea buckthorn berry oil (3900μg)
  • Sweet potatoes (5219μg)
  • Dark leafy greens, such as spinach (5626μg) and kale (1731μg)
  • Butternut squash (4570μg)

Note: Values are indicated per 100g. Source: My Food Data.

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B vitamins

All together, there are eight B vitamins (sometimes called B complex vitamins).

Among other things, B vitamins assist our bodies with energy levels and are essential for the brain as well as the nervous system.(4)

Unlike some other vitamins, which are soluble in fat, all eight B vitamins are water-soluble. Unfortunately, this means that our bodies are not too good at hanging onto them. As a result, you need to keep replenishing your stores of B vitamins through your diet.

Foods such as whole grains, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fresh fruit all contain useful amounts of various B vitamins.

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you will probably already be familiar with vitamin B12. Many people who don't eat animal products are concerned about getting enough vitamin B12. However, there are plant-based sources which allow you to stock up on this important nutrient, including nori (seaweed). → View Related Products

Other whole foods rich in B vitamins

  • Lentils (0.2mg of thiamin - B1, 0.6mg of pantothenic acid - B5 and 181μg of folate - B9)
  • Bananas (0.4mg of B6)
  • Spinach (146μg of folate - B9)
  • Almonds (1.1mg of riboflavin - B2 and 3.6mg of niacin - B3)
  • Peanuts (0.6mg thiamin - B1, 12.1mg of niacin - B3, 1.8mg of pantothenic acid - B5 and 240μg of folate - B9)

Note: Values are indicated per 100g. Sources: My Food Data.

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Vitamin C

Our bodies need vitamin C to make collagen. Collagen is a protein found in skin, bones, joints, and digestive tract tissues.

To make sure you're getting enough vitamin C, you can look to the most well-known source: citrus fruits.. But don't forget kale!

One cup of kale contains as much vitamin C as an orange. Moreover, just this amount more than satisfies your daily requirement of vitamin C. Use kale as a salad green or stir into your stews and pasta sauces just after cooking. → View Related Products

Plant-based foods high in vitamin C

  • Sea buckthorn berries (400μg)(5)
  • Citrus fruits such as grapefruit (79.1mg), lemon (112.4μg), and bergamot (144mg)
  • Green and red peppers (119.8mg)
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as kale (93.4mg), spinach (28.1μg) and turnip greens (60μg)

Note: Values are indicated per 100g. Sources: My Food Data and Eat This Much.

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8.5 fl oz (Box of 6)

Organic Bergamot Juice

8.5 fl oz (Box of 6)

Organic Sea Buckthorn Juice