Let’s Learn Our Vitamin ABCs + D

From Hy-Vee’s partner, Dish On Fish:

Hi Seafoodies –

Part of our mission is to be a reliable source on the role of nutrition in seafood. With school on everyone’s mind we think an educational blog on vitamins ABC & D in seafood is appropriate! Each of these crucial nutrients are important for optimal heart, brain, skin, eye and immune health, along with other health benefits. And now more than ever doctors and nutritionists stress the importance of overall health.

Seafood is recognized as an important source of protein, omega-3s DHA and EPA. And while we’re focusing on vitamins A, B, C and D today, seafood provides an array of other beneficial nutrients, like vitamin E in salmon and other fish, vitamin K in oil-packed canned tuna and sardines and minerals like iron, magnesium and the antioxidant selenium. Eating 2-3 servings of a variety of seafood each week, as recommended by the current dietary guidelines [insert link], will help ensure you are getting a variety of important nutrients.”

Lucky for all of us that seafood is so nutritious – and can be on the table in under 30 minutes.  Ready to learn those ABC and D’s? Let’s dive in!

Vitamin A

A fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, vitamin A is important for proper eye, skin, reproductive and immune system health. Vitamin A is found in plant foods (think colorful veggies and fruits, like sweet potatoes and pumpkin) as beta-carotene and in animal foods—like seafood—as preformed vitamin A. Both forms are converted into retinal and retinoic acid in the body to support vitamin A’s many roles in the body. Favorites like tuna, salmon, trout and herring receive an A for providing this important vitamin.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B actually refers to 8 different vitamins, all of which contribute to energy metabolism in various ways. Seafood provides multiple B vitamins, particularly vitamins B-12 (cobalamin), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin) and B-6 (pyridoxine). Adequate vitamin B-12 helps prevent anemia, vitamin B-2 helps metabolize fats and medications, vitamin B-6 helps with the production of red blood cells and immune health and vitamin B-3 helps promote skin, nerve and GI health and healthy cholesterol levels. Eat more seafood—like salmon, trout, oysters, clams and mussels—to get a healthy dose of various B vitamins.

Vitamin C

If your parents gave you orange juice or vitamin C chewables as a kid to support your immune system, they were on to something. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts immunity by fighting against harmful molecules called free radicals, helps promote a healthy heart and brain, boosts iron absorption and promotes collagen production for healthy skin and blood vessels. While we get most of our vitamin C from fruits, vegetables and fortified foods, there is vitamin C in oysters and smaller amounts in other seafood. Another important note about vitamin C—it’s an essential nutrient, meaning our bodies don’t make it so we must get it through our diet. So, pair your seafood with fruit and vegetables to maximize vitamin C and iron absorption.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays several roles in the body, but two of its most important functions includes bone and immune health. It is crucial for healthy bones and teeth by boosting calcium and phosphorous absorption and for supporting a healthy immune system. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” our bodies make vitamin D when ultraviolet (UV) rays hit our skin. But depending on sunscreen use, time spent outdoors, the season and where you live, our bodies may not make adequate amounts of vitamin D. And that’s where seafood comes in. Fatty fish is one of the few foods that naturally contains vitamin D. So, this fall and winter—when you’re likely spending more time indoors—be sure your plate includes vitamin D-rich fatty fish, like salmon tuna and mackerel.