Vitamins and minerals are vital for good health. We normally get our supply of vitamins and minerals from our diet, although the sun stimulates the body to make the vitamin D we need.
Vitamins help make sure your body's cells work properly, by controlling the growth and repair of tissues. They also stimulate energy production. You need to make sure you have the RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) of each vitamin. You should be able to manage this if you eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, some cereal or wholegrains, and a helping of lean meat or oily fish.
Vitamins are a group of organic substances that are required in minute quantities in the diet in order to maintain good health. A lack of a particular vitamin results in a deficiency disease. There are six vitamin groups such as Vitamin A, B, C, D, E , K and P.
Vitamins are classified as Fat soluble vitamins and Water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins include
- Vitamin A and Carotene ( Provitamin A),
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D2 (Calciferol, artificial vitamin D) and Vitamin D3 ( Irradiated dehydrocholesterol), Natural Vitamin D),
- Vitamin E and
- Vitamin K.
Water soluble vitamins include
- Vitamin B complex - Vitamin B1( thiamine, aneurin), Riboflavin, nicotinic acid and Nicotinamide, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin) , Pantotnenic acid, folic acid, Biotin, Choline, P- Amino benzoic acid, Inositol and Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin P
Minerals are chemical substances such as calcium, sodium, iron and potassium which act as components of main body structures like bones, teeth, blood and soft tissues. They are found in green vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, seeds diary products, eggs and fish. A deficiency of minerals can lead to particular conditions. For example deficiency of iron can lead to some forms of anemia.
Vitamins and minerals doesn't directly provide energy but they contribute to nutrition by allowing chemical reactions to occur normally through out the body. These reactions known as metabolism are responsible for certain functions like converting fats and carbohydrates into energy and utilizing proteins to repair injured tissues by vitamins and the production of blood and bone and transmission of nerve impulses by minerals.
Chart of vitamins
|Vitamin and RDA |
(For adults, 19-50 years of age)
|Why you need it…||Get it from…|
|Vitamin A |
|Vitamin A is important for healthy bones, teeth, skin and hair. It protects the linings of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts from infection. |
It can also help you see better at night!
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fortified cereals, and yellow/orange coloured fruit and vegetables - especially carrots.
Liver, fish oils, egg yolks and milk.
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) |
|Controls the enzymes that are involved in stimulating the chemical reactions which convert sugar (glucose) into energy. |
Helps produce the energy needed for nerves, muscles and heart to function properly.
Whole meal bread and grains, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, bran, pulses (peas, beans), nuts, eggs.
Liver, pork, fish.
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) |
|Promotes the production of hormones by the adrenal glands (lie above the kidneys, and secrete adrenalin); stimulates the release of energy; maintains a healthy mouth, tongue and skin.||Plant foods:|
Green vegetables such as broccoli, wholegrain, cereals, wheat germ, brewer's yeast.
Liver, cheese, eggs, milk.
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin) |
There are two main forms of niacin - nicotinamide and nicotinic acid.
|Helps energy production from fats and carbohydrates, helps the functioning of the nervous and digestive systems. |
Promotes production of the sex hormones (e.g. testosterone) and also helps maintain a healthy skin.
Lean meat, liver, poultry and fish.
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) |
|Helps formation of red blood cells and antibodies, aids nervous and digestive systems and helps maintain healthy skin.||Plant foods:|
Most fruit and vegetables, especially bananas, potatoes, dried beans and whole grains.
Liver, poultry, pork, fish.
|Vitamin B12 |
|Helps keep nervous system healthy; aids production of genetic matter, which is essential for formation of new cells.||Only found in animal foods.|
If you don't eat animal products, it's essential that you take a B12 vitamin supplement.
|Folic acid (one of the B-complex vitamins) |
|Aids production of genetic material; helps maintain a healthy nervous system. Pregnant (or trying to get) women should take a folic acid supplement.||Mostly plant foods, such as spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, dried beans, peas, whole grains. Also found in liver.|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) |
|Boosts the immune system, helps wounds heal, improves iron absorption, maintains health of gums, teeth, bones and blood vessels. |
Not stored by the body, so you need to include it every day in your diet.
Most fruit and vegetables, especially citrus fruit, berries, kiwis, blackcurrants, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, and potatoes. Eat raw when you can, to get maximum benefit; cooking/processing can destroy the vitamin.
|Vitamin D |
|Essential for normal growth and development, helps form strong teeth and bones as aids calcium absorption from food. Maintains healthy blood clotting, muscles and nerves by controlling blood levels of calcium.||Most vitamin D comes from sunlight.|
Oily fish such as tuna (and try cod liver oil), milk, liver, eggs.
|Vitamin E |
|Helps in formation and protection of red blood cells; protects cell linings in lungs and other tissues, may slow down cell ageing.||Plant foods:|
Whole grains, green leafy vegetable such as spinach or curly kale, nuts.