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WIN: THE A, B, AND C OF VITAMINS

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We all know the benefits of including the right vitamins in our diets, but sometimes we don’t know what the best sources of vitamins are …

In the next few months we will be giving a breakdown of the key sources of various vitamins. This month we look at Vitamins A, B, and C.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, also called retinol (preformed vitamin A) or beta-carotene (provitamin A). Retinol, which is derived from animal sources, is one of the most well absorbed and efficiently used forms of Vitamin A. The majority of vitamin A is stored in the liver and plays an important role in eyesight and normal visual function. Foods rich in Vitamin A are: turkey; sweet potato; beta-carotene-rich foods: orange fruit and vegetables (think apricots, butternut, carrots); and dark green, leafy vegetables (like spinach).

VITAMIN B

There’s more than one B vitamin, and they are commonly found in the same foods (actually, in nature, there is no B vitamin found in isolation). They have similar coenzyme functions, often needing each other to perform best. The B-complex vitamins are all water-soluble and aren’t stored very well in the body.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is required for the release of energy from glucose and for the transformation of carbohydrates into fat. It provides excellent support to the nervous system and mental function. Foods rich in Vitamin B1 are: whole grains; eggs; liver; lean pork; wheat germ; yeast; and legumes.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 assists with the metabolism of protein, fats and carbohydrates.Foods rich in Vitamin B2 are: dairy; eggs; liver; oily fish; green, leafy vegetables; and wholegrain cereals.

Vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinic acid)

This B vitamin is required for cell respiration and helps in the release of energy and the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Foods rich in Vitamin B3 are: lean meat; fish; liver; yeast; and nuts.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

B5 is also known as the ‘anti-stress vitamin’ and is used to relieve fatigue and stress through its support of the adrenal glands. Foods rich in Vitamin B5 are: broccoli; avocados; and mushrooms.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is required for balancing hormonal changes and assisting the immune system, and is involved in the growth of new cells. Foods rich in Vitamin B6 are: dark green vegetables; oats; bananas; wholegrain cereals; and kidneys.

Biotin (Vitamin H)

Biotin enables your body to process the fats, carbohydrates and protein in food into energy that cells can use. Foods rich in biotin are: egg yolks; almonds; soya beans; yogurt; sweet potato; and peanuts.

Folic acid

Folic acid is one of the building blocks of DNA and is important for red blood cell formation and energy production, as well as the forming of amino acids. Foods rich in folic acid are: orange juice; eggs; wholegrain cereals; and dark, green leafy vegetables.

VITAMIN C

This water-soluble antioxidant helps your body resist infection, including the common cold. In olden days, lack of Vitamin C caused scurvy among seafarers during long voyages. Even though you can’t always avoid getting sick, it is claimed that Vitamin C makes it a little harder for your body to become infected and increases your chances of a quick recovery.

It is also important in the formation and maintenance of collagen, which is found in the skin, ligaments, cartilage, bones and teeth. Foods rich in Vitamin C are: citrus fruits; tomatoes; sweet red and greenpeppers; kiwi fruit; cabbage; broccoli; and strawberries.

Read about the importance of Vitamins D, E and K next month …

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