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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy and repair cellular damage.

Vitamins help you resist infections and keeping your nerves healthy.

Vitamins allow your body to grow and develop. They also play important roles in bodily functions such as metabolism, immunity, and digestion. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, and B vitamins such as riboflavin and folate.

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. C and B-complex are readily absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream where they travel freely throughout the body for use.

The body has no storage unit for water-soluble vitamins except B12 can remain in the liver for a varying period of time, and B6 folic acid can stay in the muscles for a few days.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body with the assistance of bile acids that break down the fats, before being taken up by the lymphatic system and into the bloodstream where most are transported around the body in protein carriers.

If not used, they are stored in the liver and fatty tissue until needed.

They are not easily excreted from the body like water-soluble vitamins. If an accumulation does occur in the liver, it becomes toxic over time and interferes with liver function.

Here is a short elaboration on each vitamin’s involvement in the body, together with a few of the main foods which contain that vitamin. I’ll also mention what decreases the nutrient content of water-soluble vitamins within vegetables and fruit.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It strengthens the immune system to fight infections and work against viruses. Vitamin C assists cognitive function and helps with tissue growth and repair and to heal wounds and form scar tissue. It works as an antioxidant and helps detoxify pollutants out of the body.

Foods sources:

Fruits: papaya, kiwifruit, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, melons, orange, lemon, grapefruit.

Vegetables: red chilli peppers, capsicum, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach and cabbage.

Herbs: parsley, dill, and coriander.

All eight B-complex vitamins are essential for a well-functioning metabolism. All these vitamins turn food into fuel from carbohydrates, protein and fats, and support the liver to remove toxins from the body.

B1 (Thiamine) is important for a healthy metabolism and as a direct energy flow to the brain and nervous system.

Foods sources:

Lamb, beef livers, pork, whole grains, legumes, brazil nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast.

B2 (Riboflavin) is needed to absorb other B vitamins and iron. It plays an integral role in the growth and repair processes of the body and the function of the adrenal and thyroid glands and brain function, hormone function and healthy eyes, skin and nails.

Foods sources: Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products, avocados, and leafy greens.

B3 (Niacin) helps keep cholesterol levels balanced and acts synergistically with other B’s, aiding cardiovascular health. It also helps reduce inflammation and contributes to keeping joints moving as they should and reduces skin flare-ups. It helps manage diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels stable.

Foods sources: Beef, poultry, oily fish, mushrooms, and brown rice.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) plays a crucial role in supporting the nervous system and energizing the brain’s neurotransmitters. It contributes to making stress-related and sex hormones in the adrenal glands. Along with other B vitamins, it looks after the integrity of the digestive system, cardiovascular health, and the balance of blood sugar.

Foods sources: Beef liver, eggs, salmon, avocado, sunflower seeds, and lentils.

B6 (Pyridoxine) plays a role in the formation of red blood cells. Along with other B vitamins, pyridoxine has a role in maintaining a healthy nervous system and brain function.

Foods sources: Poultry, beef, oily fish, avocado, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, lentils, chickpeas, and pinto beans.

B7 (Biotin) helps metabolizing fatty and amino acids. As with all the B Vitamins, it’s required by the nervous system, neurotransmitter signals, and to protect the brain against cognitive degeneration. Biotin helps build muscles during childhood development, and as we age, it helps repair them.

Foods sources: Beef and chicken liver, poultry, eggs, oily fish, oysters, avocado, tomatoes, and nutritional yeast.

B9 Folate (Folic Acid) is needed for the formation of red blood cells and the normal replication of cells. It positively affects heart and brain health, supports kidneys and liver, whilst boosting the immune system.

Food sources: Leafy green vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, and citrus fruit.

B12 (Cyanocobalamin) is critical for the synthesis of fats, protein and carbohydrates for energy to support neurological to physiological pathways and for cell reproduction. It helps maintain the myelin sheath, which you may recall is the protective covering of nerve cells. A lack of B12 can be damaging to the nervous system. Synergistically working with all the B Vitamins, it helps maintain good digestion for nutrient absorption.

Foods sources: Chicken and beef liver, red meat, turkey, eggs, and oily fish.

Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and is naturally involved in reducing inflammation and neurological function. It plays a crucial role in the protection of the eye’s cornea. It’s used in the production of collagen, the formation of soft tissues and bone structure. Compounds of retinoids such as retinol, retinal and retinoic acid are derived from vitamin A.

Retinol food sources of vitamin A: Meat, liver, egg yolks and oily fish.

Food sources Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, leafy green vegetables, red peppers and apricots.

Vitamin D is made by the body internally from cholesterol but the skin must be exposed to the sun’s UV rays first. It’s used for the production of pancreatic enzymes and to control calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and bones. Vitamin D contributes to strong bones and teeth via the circulation of calcium and is crucial for muscles, cardiovascular health, the production of our sex hormones, and brain function.

Food sources: Oily fish, cod liver oil, organic butter, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and is crucial for brain development and growth. Plays a critical role in both the nervous and endocrine systems and hormonal health. The action of Vitamin E in the blood is a deterrent against blood clotting that can help to prevent heart disease.

Food sources: Pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, pine nuts, wheat germ and cold-pressed oils like coconut, olive and hempseed.

Vitamin K is produced within the intestinal tract from gut bacteria and sends it out into the blood, liver and fatty tissue for storage. Its main purpose is to control calcium by keeping it out of the blood vessels and in the bones thereby preventing heart disease. By activating a protein called, osteocalcin, it helps the accumulation of calcium in the bones for density through our growing years. Two types: Vitamin K1 (found in plant foods) is known for its participation in blood clotting and K2 (animal & fermented foods) for protecting the heart.

Exposure to light, heat, and oxygen and boiling of fruit or vegetables can decrease the nutrient content of water-soluble vitamins. The vitamin C content begins to diminish as soon as vegetables and fruits are pulled from the ground or picked from a tree and exposed to light, heat, and oxygen. Boiling vegetables can also cause the vitamin C content to decrease.


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