Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sources of vitamins

Vitamins and minerals are essential for the maintenance of good health and the prevention of a number of diseases. In this article we look at the properties of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, and common food sources. 

Types of vitamins 

There are two types of vitamins: 

* water-soluble vitamins B and C 
* fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. 

Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body, so you need to get them from food every day. They can be destroyed by overcooking. 

Vitamins and minerals are found in a wide variety of foods and a balanced diet should provide you with the quantities you need. 

Vitamin A (retinol) 
This vitamin is essential for growth and healthy skin and hair. It is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in the body's immune system. Vitamin A is found in the following animal products: 

* milk, butter, cheese and eggs 
* chicken, kidney, liver, liver pate 
* fish oils, mackerel, trout, herring. 

Another source of vitamin A is a substance called beta-carotene. This is converted by the body into vitamin A. It is found in orange, yellow and green vegetables and fruits. 

Vitamin B Complex 
The complex of B vitamins includes the following group of substances: 

* B1 - thiamine 
* B2 - riboflavin 
* B3 - nicotinic acid 
* B6 - pyridoxine 
* B12 - cobalamin 
* folate - folic acid. 

The body requires relatively small amounts of vitamins B1, B2 and B3. 

Vitamins B6 and B12 help the body to use folic acid and are vital nutrients in a range of activities such as cell repair, digestion, the production of energy and in the immune system. Vitamin B12 
is also needed for the breakdown of fat and carbohydrate. Deficiency of either vitamin will result in anaemia. Vitamin B6 is found in most foods, so deficiency is rare. 

The best dietary sources of the B vitamins, especially B12, are: 

* animal products (meat, poultry) 
* yeast extracts (brewers' yeast, Marmite). 

Other good sources include: 

* asparagus, broccoli, spinach, bananas, potatoes 
* dried apricots, dates and figs 
* milk, eggs, cheese, yoghurt 
* nuts and pulses 
* fish 
* brown rice, wheat germ, wholegrain cereals 

Dietary sources of vitamin B6 are similar to those for vitamin B12 and also include avocado, herring, salmon, sunflower seeds and walnuts. 

Folic acid (folate) 
Folic acid works closely in the body with vitamin B12. It is vital for the production of healthy blood cells. 

Lack of folic acid is one of the main causes of anaemia, particularly in people whose diet is generally poor. Vitamins B6 and B12 help the body use folate, so are often given alongside 
folic acid supplements. 

In pregnancy, low folate levels increase the risk of the baby's spinal cord system not developing completely (spina bifida). All women are now advised to take folic acid supplements in the first 
three months of pregnancy and preferably before conception. 

Folate occurs naturally in most foods but often in small amounts. 

Many food manufacturers now fortify white flour, cereals, bread, corn, rice and noodle products with folic acid. 

One serving of each enriched product will contribute about 10 per cent of the RDA for folic acid. 

Wholegrain products are not enriched because they already contain natural folate. 

Liver contains the greatest amount of folic acid, with lower levels found in beef, lamb and pork and a range of green vegetables and citrus fruits. 

Other sources of folate are dried beans, fresh orange juice, tomatoes, wheat germ (wholemeal bread and cereal) and wholegrain products (pasta and brown rice). 

Folate content of foods – an adult needs 200mcg a day

Food Serving size Amount of folate are-

Asparagus 115g 132mcg 
Black beans 115g 128mcg 
Breakfast cereal 30-40g 80-120mcg 
Brussels sprouts 115g 47mcg 
Chicken liver 100g 770mcg 
Chick peas 115g 180mcg 
Cooked broccoli 115g 47mcg 
Cooked spinach 115g 131mcg 
Cooked white rice 170g 60mcg 
Kidney beans 115g 115mcg 
Oranges 1 medium 47mcg 
Pasta 55g 100-120mcg 
Tomato juice 1 cup (225ml) 48mcg 
Wheat germ 2 tbsp 38mcg 

Vitamin C 
Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidant vitamins. 

We need vitamin C for growth, healthy body tissue, wound repair and an efficient immune system. In addition, it's thought vitamin C can reduce cholesterol levels and regulate your blood pressure and your body's absorption of iron. 

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the main source of vitamin C – eating your five a day will easily meet the body's needs. 

Too much vitamin C can result in a sensitive, irritable stomach and mouth ulcers. 

Vitamin C content of foods – an adult needs 60mg a day

Food Serving size Amount of vitamin C are-

Strawberries 1 bowl 70-120mg 
Kiwi fruit 1 fruit 50mg 
Steamed broccoli 1 serving (80g) 50mg 
Orange 1 large 70mg 
Mango and passion fruit smoothie 250ml glass/bottle 48mg 
Frozen peas, cooked 1 serving (85g) 17mg 

Vitamin D (calciferol) 
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It helps the body to absorb calcium. 

The action of sunlight on the skin enables the body to manufacture vitamin D – even on a cloudy day. For this reason, most people will get enough vitamin D through their everyday activities. 

Foods rich in vitamin D are oily fish, liver, cod liver oil and dairy products. 

Vitamin E 

Vitamin E is important in cell maintenance and also plays an active role in the maintenance of a healthy heart, blood and circulation. It is one of the body's main antioxidants. 

The following foods are rich in vitamin E: 

* avocados, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, watercress, brussels sprouts 
* blackberries, mangoes 
* corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil 
* mackerel, salmon 
* nuts, wholemeal and wholegrain products 
* soft margarine. 

Vitamin K 

Vitamin K is involved in the blood clotting process and in the maintenance of strong bones. It is found in small quantities in meat, most vegetables and wholegrain cereals. 

Your body also makes vitamin K in the large intestine, through the activity of 'healthy bacteria'. For this reason, there is no recommended daily amount. 

These bacteria are also referred to as the gut flora. They form part of our defence against more harmful organisms. 

Diets rich in fatty and sugary foods can adversely change the balance of the gut flora, as can the additives and pesticides that are often a part of modern food production. 

DO YOU KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vegetarians and B12 
Vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy produce will get enough B12. 
Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur in vegans because all dietary sources are animal in origin. 
The British Vegan Society recommends foods fortified with vitamin B12 such as: breakfast cereals yeast extract margarine soya powder and milk Plamil soya mince or chunks.

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