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A Quick Vegan Guide: Functions and Food Sources of Vitamins

The word “vitamin” comes from the Latin for “vital to life.” These important nutrients help release energy from food, fight infection, protect against damage to cells, promote normal growth and development and generally keep us healthy.

Some vitamins are water soluble, which means they are not stored in the body. Your body uses what it needs and releases excess amounts in your urine, making it necessary to consume these vitamins daily. Examples of water soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, biotin, folate and pantothenic acid). Others are fat soluble. These vitamins are stored in the body, but you need to eat a certain amount of fat to ensure that they are properly absorbed. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins.

The following is a list of the different functions of some important vitamins and list of food sources for them.

  • Aids in normal bone and tooth development
  • Aids in night vision
  • Helps maintain the health of skin and membranes

Some Food Sources dark root vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, broccoli and dark leafy green vegetables including callaloo, dandelion spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard and kale

  • Helps in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage and teeth
  • helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps gum healthy
  • Acts as an antioxidant
  • Aids in iron absorption

Some Food Sources oranges and orange juice, grapefruit and other grapefruit juice, kiwifruit, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes and tomatoes

Vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin”): FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY
  • Helps the body absorb and use calcium and phosphorus
  • Plays a role in bone and tooth formation and maintenance

Some Food Sources mushrooms (the only plant source of vitamin D), almond milk (original fortified with vitamin D), soy yogurt fortified with vitamin D, ready-to-eat cereals and oatmeal fortified with vitamin D, orange juice fortified with vitamin D

Our bodies can actually make and absorb vitamin D from sun exposure. According the the National Institute of Health, 5 – 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually enough to help boost vitamin D intake. This process varies widely depending on the season, time of day, cloud cover, skin color, and sunscreen use, so eating food sources of vitamin D (such as fortified dairy products, or some mushrooms) is also important. Vitamin D is also available as a dietary supplement.

Cooking Green Goodness Magazine, Citrus Fruits


  • Protects the fat in body tissues from oxidation. This means it helps to slow down processes that damage cells.

Some Food Sources sunflower seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, papaya, peanut butter, avocados, sweet potatoes and wheat germ


  • Plays an important role in blood clotting

Some Food Sources cabbage, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, dandelion, strawberries, lentils, dried soybeans, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli, canola oil and soybean oil

Thiamin (vitamin B1): FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY

  • Releases energy in carbohydrates
  • Aids in normal growth

Some Food Sources whole-grain and enriched breads, cereals and pasta, green peas, dried beans (kidney, navy, soybeans), lentils and nuts

Riboflavin (vitamin B2): FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY

  • Plays a role in energy metabolism and tissue formation
  • Is involved in the metabolism of other B vitamins

Some Food Sources nuts, green peas, cooked spinach, beans (navy, soybeans), lentils and whole-grain and enriched breads, cereals and pasta

Niacin (vitamin B3): FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY

  • Plays a role in energy metabolism
  • Aids in normal growth and development

Some Food Sources peanuts, peanut butter, beans (kidney, navy, soybeans, chickpeas), corn, green peas and whole-grain and enriched breads, cereals, pasta

Pyridoxin (vitamin B6): FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY

  • Aids in energy metabolism and tissue formation

Some Food Sources whole-grains and enriched cereals, beans (kidney, navy, soybeans, chickpeas), lentils, potatoes, bananas and watermelon

Cobalamin (vitamin B12): FUNCTIONS IN THE BODY

  • Aids in red blood cell formation

Some Food Sources Some foods such as soy and rice beverages and soy-based meat substitutes, are fortified with B12. If relying on fortified foods, check the labels carefully to make sure you are getting daily recommended amount. You may find the use of B12 supplements more convenient and economical. Talk to a physician.


  • Aids in red blood cell formation
  • Has an essential role in making new cells

Some Food Sources cooked beans (kidney, navy, soybeans, chickpeas), lentils, asparagus, cooked spinach, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli, corn, green peas, oranges and orange juice, pineapple juice, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, sunflower seeds, nuts, peanut butter, wheat germ and enriched bread, cereal grains and pasta

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Get Your Carbon Footprint In 5 Minutes

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” @Project Neutral

Love to bike? Take transit to work? Do you compost food scraps? Planning a stay-cation? Feeling toasty-warm about insulating your windows? Cutting back on red meat or cheese? Are you vegan or vegetarian? If the answer is yes to any one of these questions, you are taking climate action.

Here’s even better news; you can double your impact by sharing your low-carbon lifestyle choices with others. Just talking about climate change and solutions like Project Neutral, is on the most impactful things you can do. Why? Because it helps to show others that climate solutions begin with a positive approach to make low-carbon living the new normal.

Measure Your Impact. Share It. Tag @ProjectNeutral. Project Neutral helps people understand how their daily choices impact climate change.

There are many ways you can decrease your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And the good news is that some of the most effective climate solutions are also good for our health, our economy, and our well-being. Actions like:

Making your home more energy efficient makes it more comfortable, more resilient and increases its value.

Making small changes to your diet, like including more plant-based meals, can improve your health while reducing powerful climate pollutants like methane.

Driving less adds up to more savings and gives you more time for exercise or reading on your commute.

Choosing a stay-cation instead of a flight destination saves time, money and supports your local economy.

Installing a smart thermostat to avoid heating/cooling your home when no one is there.

Choosing local food that has travelled fewer kilometres to your plate.

Freezing last night’s leftovers for a great lunch later in the week and avoid throwing out spoiled food.

Composting food waste to keep it out of landfill, where it turns into highly-polluting methane gas.

Using your municipality’s online search tool to identify whether items can be composted, recycled or trashed.

These actions all add up to immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e).

Click HERE to: Measure. Act. Connect.