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THE BASICS OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS FOR HEALTH (II)


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Elizabeth Joseph-Williams

488

… Continued from last edition

Water-soluble vitamins

These vitamins need to dissolve in water before the body can absorb them, and they cannot be stored in the body such as vitamins C and the B-complex vitamins (B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate). This means that any of these vitamins that the body doesn’t use as it passes through the system is lost (mostly through urine). Therefore, vitamins C and B need to be freshly supplied more frequently and, unlike fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins can be destroyed by being exposed to air, heat or in water during cooking. The best way to retain as many of the water-soluble vitamins as possible during cooking is to steam or grill foods, rather than boil them, or to use the cooking water in soups or stews rather than pouring it away.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is also known as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C plays an important role in controlling infections and also acts as an active antioxidant that neutralises harmful free radicals. Other functions of vitamin C includes: it helps protect cells and keep them healthy; helps make collagen, a tissue needed for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels, and helps wound healing. A lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy.

Recommended daily dose:   Adults need 40mg of vitamin C a day. However, taking large amounts (more than 1,000mg per day) of vitamin C can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence.

Sources include:  Vitamin C can be found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including oranges and orange juice, red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes

B VITAMINS

The B-Complex vitamins are a group of vitamins that play essential roles in the proper functioning of the body system. A lack of any of these vitamins could lead to health complications such as anaemia.

  • The vitamins include:
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1),
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2),
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Biotin (vitamin B7)
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B12

Thiamine (vitamin B1)

 Vitamin B1 works with other B-group vitamins to help break down and release energy from food. It also keeps the nervous system healthy.

Recommended daily dose:1mg a day for men, 0.8mg a day for women

Sources include:Thiamine can be found in most types of food, including vegetables like peas, fresh and dried fruit, eggs, whole grain breads, some fortified breakfast cereals, liver.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Riboflavin functions to keep the skin, eyes and nervous system healthy and helps the body release energy from the food we eat.

Recommended daily dose:1.3mg a day for men, 1.1mg a day for women

Sources include: Food sources of riboflavin include milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, rice.

These foods should be kept out of direct sunlight as UV light can destroy riboflavin.                                                                                            

Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin helps to release energy from the foods we eat and to keep the nervous systems and skin healthy.

Recommended daily dose: 17mg a day for men, 13mg a day for women

Sources include: Sources of niacin includemeat, fish, wheat flour, eggs, milk

Pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid also helps to release energy from the food we eat.

Recommended daily dose: You should be able to get all the needed pantothenic acid by eating a varied and balanced diet. Taking 200mg or less a day of pantothenic acid in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

Sources include:Pantothenic acid can be sourced from virtually all meat and vegetable foods, including: chicken, beef, potatoes, porridge, tomatoes, kidney, eggs, broccoli, and wholegrains.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food and helps to form haemoglobin.

Recommended daily dose:   1.4mg a day for men, 1.2mg a day for women

Sources include:Food sources of riboflavin include: pork, poultry (such as chicken or turkey), fish, bread, whole cereals (oatmeal, wheat germ and brown rice), soya beans, peanuts, milk, potatoes, eggs, vegetables, and some fortified breakfast cereals.

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Biotin is a coenzyme important for the metabolism of fat and the body needs it in small amounts.

Recommended daily dose:Between 30 and 100 mcg per day of biotin is often recommended for adolescents and adults.

Sources include:Biotin is found naturally in a wide range of foods, but at very low levels compared with other water-soluble vitamins.

Folic acid

Folic acid has several important functions including:  working together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells and helping to reduce the risk of central nervous system defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies.

A lack of folic acid could lead to folate deficiency anaemia.

Recommended daily dose: Adults need 0.2mg of folic acid a day.

Sources include:Folate is found in small amounts in many foods such as: broccoli, brussels sprouts, liver, spinach, asparagus, peas, chickpeas, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is involved in making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy, releasing energy from the food we eat and processing folic acid.

A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia.

Recommended daily dose: Adults need approximately 0.0015mg a day of vitamin B12.

Sources include: Vitamin B12 is found in: meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs, and some fortified breakfast cereals.


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