VITAMINS are vital to maintaining good health and invaluable in keeping your body and your mind running smoothly.
They are known as the spark plugs of the human machine and without them – but also taking them to excess – can lead to acute and chronic disease.
Vitamins promote normal growth, ensure good health and protect against disease.
There are dozens of vitamins and minerals our body needs, but below are the ones that everyone should ensure are part of their daily intake to keep fit and healthy, as well as which foods supply them.
This vitamin is not only associated with vision, but it is also essential for healthy skin and hair. Beside carrots, there are many other sources of vitamin A, which include mango, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, liver, milk, butter, cheese and eggs.
Vitamin B can be categorised into many sub-types: B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12. The body needs relatively small amounts of vitamin B1, B2 and B3, and they can be found in most food; Vitamins B6 and B12 are necessary for the body to function well in a range of activities such as cell repair, digestion, the production of energy and the immune system. Vitamin B12 is also needed for the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates. Vitamins B6 and B12 are easily found in animal products such as meat and poultry, and in spinach, bananas, potatoes, milk, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, nuts and fish.
Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidant vitamins. We need vitamin C for growth, healthy body tissue, wound repair and maintaining an efficient immune system. Fresh fruit and vegetables such as spinach, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit and strawberry are the main sources of this vitamin. However, too much vitamin C can result in a sensitive, irritable stomach and mouth ulcers.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It helps the body to absorb calcium. The action of sunlight on the skin is a common method to enable 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 or by just standing under the morning sunlight. Besides sunlight, vitamin D can also be obtained by eating oily fish, liver, cod liver oil and dairy products.
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. Mostly vitamin E can be found in tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, blackberries, mangoes, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, salmon and nuts.
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. Vitamin K also stays in Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, cabbage and liver.
Check out the many health websites for all the information on vitamins and minerals needed to keep your body in good health.