Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all essential nutrients, each with distinct roles in maintaining a healthy body. Together these vitamins can improve your eyesight, boost your immune system, develop healthy cells, and fight disease-causing free radicals. It’s easy to meet your body’s need for these nutrients by simply eating a varied diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, dairy, and lean protein.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient, well known for its vision promoting properties, helping you maintain and improve your eyesight. It also supports the body’s immune system, enhancing white blood cell function, and helps cells develop normally. Food sources include: beef liver, chicken liver, milk, cheese, eggs, carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, apricots, papaya, mango, fortified oatmeal, peas, tomato juice, peaches, and red bell peppers.
Vitamin D has a long list of responsibilities: it supports the immune system, reduces inflammation, regulates normal cell growth, and regulates calcium levels. In doing so, vitamin D plays a major role in preventing serious diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and a number of cancers. It is found naturally in very few foods but is commercially added to many others. Top sources include: cod liver oil, salmon, shrimp, fortified milk, cod, mackerel, tuna, sardines, eggs, fortified cereal, fortified orange juice, and Swiss cheese.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin that protects the body from free radical damage, thereby playing a role in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and general age-related cognitive decline. Seeds, nuts, and oils are generally rich in vitamin E but the nutrient can also be found in many fruits and vegetables. Top sources include: wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter, peanuts, corn oil, spinach, broccoli, soybean oil, kiwi, and mango.
Vitamin K is best known for its ability to regulate and promote blood clotting. It can also help prevent osteoporosis by maintaining bone mass and may even function as an antioxidant to fight free radicals that damage the body’s cells. Vitamin K is found primarily in leafy green vegetables, as well as a wide range of other fruits and vegetables. Top food sources include: kale, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, fresh parsley, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, carrots, peas, tomatoes, red bell peppers, strawberries, avocados, and pumpkin seeds.
To maximize your intake of these important nutrients, prepare and cook foods with vitamin preservation in mind. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble, meaning that they won’t dissolve in water and all are generally resistant to heat loss. However, air exposure may contribute to the breakdown of vitamins A and E, while exposure to light may cause vitamins A, E, and K to be lost so store foods in air-tight containers in a dark area.