Vitamins are involved in numerous processes throughout our bodies. For example, they take part in the production of hormones, enzymes and blood cells. In addition, our skin, muscles, nerves and immune systems all depend upon vitamins. Even a slight vitamin deficiency can become noticeable: we tire more easily, have trouble concentrating and are more susceptible to colds.
Two groups of vitamins
Some vitamins are fat-soluble (A, D, E and K), while others are water-soluble. Our bodies can only utilise fat-soluble vitamins if we ingest them in combination with dietary fat. For example, when you are preparing carrots, you should include some fat, or eat them along with a buttered slice of bread.
The best-known water-soluble vitamin is Vitamin C, but in addition, there is the large group of B-vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. Vitamins should be part of your daily diet to assure an adequate supply.
A word of warning however: just as our bodies do not function well with a lack of vitamins, excessive amounts of vitamins, especially of fat-soluble vitamins, are also unhealthy in the long term.
A plentiful supply with a varied diet
A balanced meal plan will provide us with sufficient amounts of vitamins. The following table gives an overview of the functions of the various vitamins and their presence in different foods.
|Vitamin||Important for…||Good Sources|
|Vitamin A and beta-carotene (that the body converts into Vitamin A)||Vision, skin, growth||Liver, tuna, eggs, butter, margarine, Gouda cheese|
|Vitamin D||Bones, teeth, calcium absorption||Fish (salmon, sardines), mushrooms, eggs, cheese spreads|
|Vitamin K||Blood clotting, bones||Milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, potatoes|
|Vitamin E||Blood clotting, bones||Milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, potatoes|
|B-Vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12)||Obtaining energy from protein, fat, carbohydrates, nerve function, blood formation||Wholegrain products, pulses, potatoes, pork, milk, vegetables, fruit, fish|
|Folic acid (a B-Vitamin)||Formation of blood and body cells, nervous system development in the unborn baby||Brewer’s yeast, baker’s yeast, eggs, soybeans, chickpeas, white beans, liver|
|Vitamin C||Iron absorption, nervous system, blood vessels, connective tissue||Bell peppers, broccoli, fennel, cauliflower, red cabbage, rose hips, mandarin oranges|
Food preparation tips
Prolonged storage and boiling in lots of water at excessive temperatures – these are things that vitamins really don’t like at all. If you want to enjoy fruit and vegetables along with all of their important nutrients, ensure you treat them gently. Wash fruit and vegetables whole and only briefly, and don’t leave them sitting around after you cut them. Cook them with as little water as possible, and only briefly.
This page contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.