If you're focused on aesthetic results such as losing body fat or increasing the amount of lean muscle tissue you have on your body, taking care of your total calorie, carb, protein, and dietary fat intake will be essential. It is these nutrients that will determine how your body composition changes as time goes on.
It's important to realize though that simply watching your calories and the major macronutrients will not necessarily promote overall good health. For that, you need to look at the micronutrients commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals.
Making sure you're meeting your daily requirements in these nutrients will also be important to promote proper body functioning, keeping your energy levels up, and to fight off disease and infection.
Here are the main vitamins you should be concerned with and what to add to your diet to make sure you're getting enough.
Water Soluble Vitamins
The first class of vitamins to be aware of is the water soluble vitamins. These are nutrients that you must take in on a daily basis because the body has no storage form of them available.
1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
The primary purpose for vitamin B1 in the body is to help your body make use of the carbohydrates you take in on a daily basis, utilizing the nutrient for energy.
Another main purpose for this nutrient is to promote a healthy nervous system where it will help maintain proper nerve transmission throughout the cells.
Where To Get It: One of the best sources of vitamin B1 in the diet comes from sunflower seeds, with a quarter cup supplying almost 50% of your daily needs. Other good sources include yellowfin tuna, black beans, and lentils.
2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Another variation of the B vitamins, riboflavin helps the body break down and process the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats), as well as promoting a healthy skin complexion.
Where To Get It: One extremely good source of vitamin B2 is Calf's liver, which supplies you over 100% of your daily needs, however since most people are not going to willingly eat this food, milk is the single most popular source of riboflavin. One glass of milk will provide almost 30% of your daily needs, so it's a simple way to make sure you're getting enough.
3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin is a third B vitamin and also plays a key role in energy production and maintaining the nervous system. In addition to this, is also promotes a healthy digestive system.
Where To Get It: Chicken breast meat is a really good source if niacin and provides 72% of your daily needs per 5 oz serving. Other foods that contain niacin include yellowfin tuna, halibut, and turkey breast.
4 / Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most widely recognized vitamins for its role in helping fight off colds. It does this due to its antioxidant properties that will also help to keep your immune system safe from free radicals you encounter. Finally, vitamin C is important for maintaining proper connective tissues throughout the cartilage and tendons in the body.
Where To Get It: Many individuals commonly think of oranges when it comes to vitamin C, but they are actually lower on the list in terms of content, coming behind strawberries, brussels sprouts, broccoli, red bell peppers, and papaya, which offers over 300% of your daily needs in a two cup serving.
Biotin is a nutrient that also allows your body to maximize the use of the other nutrients it receives and will help to maintain your red blood supply.
Since your body relies on red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body, it will be especially vital for those who are participating in regular physical activity.
Where To Get It: Unfortunately biotin is not found readily in high amounts in many foods at all, therefore your best bet is to make sure you're taking a good multivitamin that contains this nutrient. The food sources it can be found in, although in lower amounts include liver, legumes, swiss chard, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and almonds.
6. Folic Acid
because it helps to prevent neural tube birth defects. In addition to this, it will also help with the reproduction of new cells in the body and prevent anemia.
Where To Get It: One cup of lentils proves to be a very good source of folic acid providing almost 90% of your daily needs. Other food sources for this nutrient include pinto beans, asparagus, spinach, and black beans.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
The second class of vitamins to be aware of is the fat-soluble vitamins.
7. Vitamin A
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has the primary function of ensuring healthy vision and helps keep the immune system going strong since its key for the mucous membrane development. It also plays a role in bone growth, so it's important for younger individuals to ensure they are getting enough.
Where To Get It: One of the best sources of vitamin A are carrots, with a single cup supplying over 600% of your daily needs. After that, other good sources include spinach, sweet potato, winter squash, and turnips.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is often referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin' since our bodies can manufacture this themselves when enough direct sunlight is given. The purpose of vitamin D in the body is to aid in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, ensuring your bones grow strong and healthy.
Where To Get It: Apart from the natural source of sunlight, vitamin D is primarily found in milk that's been fortified, as well as salmon, shrimp, and whole eggs. One glass of milk will give you about 25% of your total needs, so drinking milk regularly is a good way to get both calcium and vitamin D at the same time.
9. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another nutrient that acts as an antioxidant in the body and helps to promote a healthy immune system. In addition to that, it also helps with the flow of blood and also plays a key role in repairing the body's tissues, so it's important for recovery purposes from your workouts.
Where To Get It: One of the best sources of vitamin E is sunflower seeds, with a quarter of a cup giving you almost 90% of your daily needs. Other good sources to add to your diet include almonds, olives, spinach, papaya, and turnip greens.
10. Vitamin K
Finally, the last vitamin that you should pay attention to in your diet is vitamin K, which is important for ensuring your blood clots. If you cut yourself and are low in this nutrient, it could become a very serious situation, so something you don't want to take lightly.
Where To Get It: A very good source of vitamin K is kale, with one cup providing you over 1000% of your daily needs. Other good sources that are fairly common include spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and romaine lettuce.
So be sure you're first taking care of your total protein, and macronutrient distribution. Once that's looked after though, don't be so quick to overlook the importance of the vitamins that you're taking in from the foods that comprise your diet.