Lovely title. Doesn’t it make you feel good just reading that? Does me!
So we all know that in order to maintain optimum health we need a range of vitamins (and minerals) in our daily diet. But so often we find that there is conflicting information regarding this very subject. Especially if one wants to perhaps lose weight, maintain weight, if you have allergies. It certainly can be a minefield.
My suggestion is that you can’t go wrong if you stick to foods that are grown rather than chemically produced or have masses of additives, including those all too ‘delicious’ e numbers.
So in order to get maximum benefits from your food you need to be eating ‘natural’ foods as I say rather than pre-packaged stuff.
So to start off lets find out if vitamin supplements good or bad for you:
Found in sweet potato – which is great roasted or boiled, and you can use it as a jacket potato instead of regular potato – delicious
Dark and leafy kale (which is very versatile) not just to accompany a meal but kale is delicious in smoothies and juices. You can also bake kale to make a very crunchy snack.
Cover a baking tray with kale, drizzle oil over and sprinkle with sea salt, bake for about 20 minutes in a hot oven. It goes very crispy and is delicious. And better for you than other types of crisps etc.
Butternut Squash – again roasted is delicious
Cos or Romaine lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe melon, tuna fish, mango, sweet peppers, cheese, eggs, yoghurt.
Liver is particularly rich in Vitamin A. Interestingly you can help your vitamin A content in your body by including good sources of beta-carotene which is then converted into Vitamin A in the body.
Benefits of Vitamin A are that it strengthens immunity against infection. Vitamin A is known as ‘retinol’ which means that it’s good for healthy eyes and also very good for keeping the skin and the linings of some parts of the body, like the nose, very healthy.
The B Vitamins
There are several types of Vitamin B and they all have very important functions.
Thiamin works with other B-group vitamins to help break down and release energy from food. It also keeps nerves and muscle tissue healthy
Good sources of thiamine include some vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, eggs, wholegrain breads and liver.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2. Its functions include keeping skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy and also helping the body release energy from carbohydrates.
Good sources of riboflavin include milk, eggs, cereals, rice
UV light can destroy riboflavin, so ideally these foods should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Vitamin B3 has several important functions, including helping produce energy from the foods we eat and helping to keep the nervous and digestive systems healthy.
There are two forms of niacin – nicotinic acid and nicotinamide – both of which are found in food.
Good sources of niacin include meat, fish, wheat flour, maize flour, eggs and milk
Another B vitamin is Pantothenic acid. This has several functions, such as helping release energy from the food we eat.
Pantothenic acid is found in virtually all meat and vegetable foods. Good sources include chicken, beef, potatoes, porridge, tomatoes, kidneys, eggs, broccoli and wholegrains, like brown rice and wholemeal bread.
So you can see that even though we’ve only covered Vitamins A and B| so far how easy it is to steer away from processed foods. I’m sure you’ve also noticed the overlap.
Vitamin B6 has several important functions, including allowing the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food, helping form haemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen around the body.
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods such as pork, chicken and turkey, fish, eggs, whole cereals such as oatmeal, wheat germ and rice, milk and potatoes.
Folic acid is one of the B-group vitamins. It has several important functions. Folic acid works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells. It also helps reduce the risk of central nervous system defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies.
Folic acid is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include broccoli, brussel sprouts, liver, spinach, asparagus, peas, chickpeas, brown rice.
Vitamin B12 makes red blood cells and keeps the nervous system healthy. It releases energy from the food we eat and processes folic acid. A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia.
Good sources of B12 include salmon, cod, meat, milk, cheese and eggs
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and has several important functions. It helps protect cells and keeps them healthy, is necessary for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissue and organs and helps heal wounds
Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Good sources include oranges and orange juice, red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes
Probably my favourite, as we get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin in reaction to summer sunlight. However, if you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt.
Vitamin D has several important functions. It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Good food sources are oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, and eggs.
Vitamin E has several important functions. It helps maintain cell structure by protecting cell membranes.
The richest sources of Vitamin E are found in plant oils such as soya, corn and olive oil. Other good sources include nuts and seeds, wheat germ, found in cereals and cereal products
Vitamin K is needed to help heal wounds properly. There is increasing evidence that vitamin K is also needed to help build strong bones.
Good sources of vitamin K green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, vegetable oils cereals. Small amounts can also be found in meat and dairy foods.
Although the title of this article is An alphabet of goodness, vitamins A-Z, I would be falling down in my duty to not include minerals, which are as much a part of good healthy eating as the vitamins previously mentioned.
So firstly (as this is in alphabetical order!) we have calcium
There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral and it has several important functions. These include helping build strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeat and ensuring blood clots normally
It is thought that calcium may help lower high blood pressure and protect against colon and breast cancer, although more evidence is needed to confirm this.
A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children or osteoporosis mainly in women as they get older.
Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese and other dairy foods, as well as green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach.
Iodine helps make the thyroid hormones. These hormones help keep cells and the metabolic rate healthy.
Iodine is a trace element found in seawater, rocks and some types of soil. Good food sources include sea fish and shellfish.
Iodine can also be found in plant foods such as cereals and grains, but the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants are grown.
Iron is an essential mineral that has several important roles in the body.
It helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.
A lack of iron can lead to anaemia which basically means you have no energy and your resistance to all sorts of illnesses is very low.
Good sources of iron include liver, meat. beans, nuts, dried fruit, such as dried apricots, wholegrains, such as brown rice fortified breakfast cereals soybean flour and most dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale.
There are quite a few more minerals including chromium, copper, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silicon and zinc
I’ve singled out Potassium as this is very important. It controls the balance of fluids in the body and is thought to possibly help lower blood pressure. Potassium can be found in bananas, pulses, nuts and seeds, milk, fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey.
AND finally Zinc
Zinc is a trace element that has several important functions. It helps make new cells and enzymes, helps us process carbohydrate, fat and protein in food and helps with healing of wounds
Zinc is found widely in the environment. Good food sources of zinc include meat shellfish, milk, cheese and other dairy products, cereal products such as wheat germ.
So you can see, if you have a healthy diet choosing protein, vegetables, eating fruit, having cereal and cereal products, it’s very easy to totally partake of all the natural goodness of every vitamin and mineral out there.