Posted by Dayne Hudson in Health / Nutrition
Estimated reading time: 4mins
Vitamins are an integral part of our health and well-being.
They are organic food substances found only in plants and animals and are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies.
And if we don't get enough, it can be harmful to our health. So, let's begin with vitamin A.
Vitamin A is also known as retinol, and has many important functions:
We'll find vitamin A in the following foods:
We can also get vitamin A by consuming beta-carotene, as it can be converted into retinol! You'll find beta-carotene in:
So how much Vitamin A do you need?
The vitamin A content of a food is normally measured in micrograms (µg or mcg) of retinol equivalents (RE). The requirements are:
Most of us should be able to get enough vitamin A from our diets.
Vitamin B has many faces! Here are the many types:
To make it simple, I've put the above into an easy-to-digest table:
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||Release energy from food. Keep the nervous system healthy.||Peas, bananas and oranges, nuts, wholegrain breads, liver.||1mg a day for men. 0.8mg a day for women.|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||Keep skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy. Help body release energy from food.||Milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, mushrooms, plain yoghurt.||1.3mg a day for men. 1.1mg a day for women.|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||Help the body release energy from food. Keep the nervous system and skin healthy.||Meat, fish, wheat flour, eggs.||16.5mg a day for men. 13.2mg a day for women.|
|Pantothenic acid||Helping the body to release energy from food.||Chicken, beef, liver and kidneys, eggs, avocado, mushrooms.||No amount set|
|Vitamin B6 aka pyridoxine||Helping us store store energy from protein and carbs. Helping us form haemoglobin.||Pork, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, soya beans, wheatgerm, oats, bananas, milk.||1.4mg a day for men. 1.2mg a day for women.|
|Vitamin B7 aka Biotin||Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help the body make fatty acids.||Egg yolk, liver, Cereals (wheat, oats), Spinach, Mushroom, Rice, Dairy items and breast milk.||30mcg a day for men. 30mcg a day for women.|
|Folate and folic acid aka Vitamin B9||The body form healthy red blood cells||Liver, Broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, peas, chickpeas and kidney beans, breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid.||200mcg a day for men. 200mcg a day for women.|
|Vitamin B12||Make red blood cells. Keeping the nervous system healthy. Release energy from food. Use folate.||Meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, some fortified breakfast cereals.||1.5mcg a day for men. 1.5mcg a day for women.|
Graph adapted from here.
This brings us to vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C's role is to:
And we can get sources of vitamin C from:
And how much vitamin C do you need?
40mg of vitamin C a day for men and women.
Vitamin D helps us regulate calcium and phosphate, which keeps our teeth, bones and muscles healthy.
And we can get it from:
So, how much do we need?
Recently revised recommendations state 600 IU (15 micrograms) for those aged 1–70 years and 800 IU (20 micrograms) for those over 71 years of age. The upper limit is listed as 4000 IU (100 micrograms).
Vitamin E helps maintain healthy eyes and skin and strengthens our immune system.
And we can find it in:
So how much vitamin E do you need?
This brings us to our last vitamin, vitamin K.
And we'll find Vitamin K in:
So, how much vitamin K do you need?
Men and women need approximately 1 microgram a day of vitamin K for each kilogram of their body weight.
The bottom line is that vitamins A through to K are an important part of our health and wellbeing and must be obtained through our diet. They are organic food substances found only in plants and animals and are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies.
Going without enough of these vitamins can be harmful to our health. Greens, liver, and egg yolks contain the bulk of all vitamins and are excellent food choices for ensuring these needs are met.