Vitamins: Essential aids for health and well being


A, B, C, D … the vitamin alphabet is long and sometimes confusing. Almost everyone knows how important it is to get a wide-ranging supply of vitamins. But what foods contain these valuable materials? Our short overview will give you some guidance.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for life. Our bodies cannot manufacture them, however, we need to absorb them from our food. Vitamins belong to the category of “essential nutrients”.

They can be divided into two groups – fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored by the body. This means that it is possible to exceed the dose we need. Fat-soluble vitamins include:

Vitamin E
Vitamin D
Vitamin K
Vitamin A

Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are excreted by the body once a certain quantity has been taken. So we do not really need to worry about overdosing on water-soluble vitamins, rather we need to ensure that we get regular doses of them. The following vitamins are water-soluble

Vitamin C
B vitamins, including folic acid, biotin, niacin and pantothenic acid

Picture: Perfect mix – cereals with fruit

Well nourished – a vitamin-rich combination

Vitamin A (retinol)

Important for: Healthy skin and mucous membranes, a well-functioning respiratory system, good eyesight, fertility, foetal development

Found in: Milk and dairy products, fish, liver, poultry. The vitamin precursor, beta-carotene or provitamin A, is found in red and green vegetables and fruit. These include carrots, tomatoes, beetroot, spinach, grapefruit, apricots, plums and cherries.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Important for: As a coenzyme helps to generate energy from food, well-functioning nerves and muscles

Found in: Fish, pulses, potatoes, whole grain products, plant germ

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Important for: Generating energy from fats, carbohydrates and proteins, maintaining healthy eyes, foetal development

Found in: Milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, peas, broccoli, whole grain products

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Important for: Building the body’s own proteins, cell division, manufacturing glucose

Found in: Fruit and vegetables like bananas, avocados, cauliflower, kale, whole grain products, pulses, potatoes, fish, poultry

Picture: Freshly harvested – ready to eat

 Vitamin B9 (folic acid)

Important for: Various metabolic processes such as protein metabolism, cell division, DNA synthesis

Found in: Yeast, pulses, wheat germ, liver, fruit and vegetables like spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, melon, strawberries, grapes, nuts and seeds

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Important for: Forming red blood cells, maintaining healthy nerves, DNA synthesis, important for the onset of effect of folic acid

Found in: Animal-based products like meat, fish, milk, eggs. Found in small quantities in sauerkraut.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Important for: Protecting cells as antioxidants against free radicals, maintaining healthy skin and gums, promoting wound healing, strengthening the immune system, promoting the absorption of iron, forming cartilage and bone tissue

Found in: Fresh fruit and vegetables like oranges, lemons, strawberries, grapefruit, rose hips, kiwis, blackcurrants and redcurrants, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet peppers

Vitamin D (calciferol)

Important for: Regulating the distribution of calcium to the tissues, building bones

Found in: Mostly manufactured by the body itself from exposure to sunlight. That’s why it’s called “sun-vitamin”. Animal-based foods like meat and fish

Picture: Legumes are rich in vitamins as well

 Vitamin E (tocopherol)

Important for: Protecting against free radicals, preventing arteriosclerosis, inhibiting inflammatory processes

Found in: Vegetables like sweet peppers, red cabbage, seeds and nuts, salt-water fish

Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

Important for: Regulating blood clotting, maintaining bone metabolism, cell growth

Found in: Dairy products, vegetables like broccoli, peas, kale, Brussels sprouts, lettuce

So do you feel well nourished? What vitamin sources do you particularly like to use? Tell us!




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