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Before you load up on supplements, add these foods to your diet to get the vitamins you need.

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From supporting a healthy immune system to helping your body stay energized, vitamins are essential for your body to function. But although many supplement companies may lead you to believe that the only way to meet your vitamin needs is by taking a fistful of pills, it is entirely possible to get the vitamins your body requires via your diet – as long as you are eating the right foods.

Including nutrient-rich foods in your diet can help reduce the risk of experiencing vitamin deficiencies and is a delicious way to support your overall health. Below are four key vitamins adults need in adequate amounts to stay healthy, along with foods that will help meet the daily requirements.

Vitamin C

Known for its immune-supporting properties, vitamin C is an essential nutrient that cannot be made in the human body. Along with supporting a healthy immune system, vitamin C helps support skin health and protect brain health.

The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men – amounts that can easily be obtained by food. A popular vitamin C-rich choice is an orange, which provides 70 mg of this nutrient. Other good choices include one cup of strawberries (89 mg), one medium kiwi (71 mg) and one cup of raw chopped kale (80 mg).

Vitamin D

Also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is made when your skin is exposed to the sun. However, some people don’t produce enough vitamin D from sun exposure and need to obtain this important nutrient via their diet. Among many important functions, vitamin D helps support a healthy immune system and bone health.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) per day for adults and 800 IU per day for adults over 70. While few foods actually contain vitamin D, fatty fishes (trout, salmon, tuna and mackerel), fortified orange juice, dairy milk and mushrooms exposed to UV light are all good dietary sources.

Vitamin B12

Feeling a little sluggish? Your body may be in need of vitamin B12, which can easily be obtained from food. Among other functions, vitamin B12 helps keep blood and nerve cells healthy and prevents the development of a type of anemia that causes muscle weakness and fatigue.

The RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day for adults. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a variety of animal foods, such as shellfish, meat, poultry, milk and eggs, and can also be found in foods that are fortified with the vitamin, such as cereals and nutritional yeast.

Vitamin A

If you want to support a healthy immune system, proper vision and a slew of other important bodily functions, you need to make sure you include plenty of vitamin A-rich foods in your diet.

The RDA for vitamin A is 900 micrograms for men and 700 micrograms for women daily. Some good dietary sources of vitamin A include carrots, liver, fish and cantaloupe.

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Date Last Reviewed: January 8, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

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