Our next topic in the health and weight management series is to look at what vitamins and minerals do and why we need them.
Vitamins and minerals are vital for good health, without them we would be unable to fight illnesses and infections. They protect us from deficiency diseases such as scurvy and beriberi, and many vitamins have been scientifically proven to protect against major illnesses such as cancer and coronary heart disease. Vitamins have also been proven to boost our immune systems, increase IQ, reduce birth defects and improve childhood development.
There are two types of vitamins fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and water-soluble vitamins (C and B).
Fat-soluble vitamins are found in fatty or oily foods. Our bodies can store these vitamins in the liver, or around the body. The body can not excrete fat soluble vitamins in the urine and they can accumulate. It is important not to take high quantities as they may be harmful.
Vitamin A gives us healthy skin and protection against infections, good sources are dairy products , liver, fatty fish, carrots, tomatoes and dark green vegetables. Deficiency can lead to reduced resistance to infection, excess leads to toxicity.
Vitamin D promotes calcium and phosphate absorption essential for bones and teeth, found in oily fish, egg yolk, milk, meat, fortified food such as cereals and margarine and absorbed by exposure to the sun. Deficiency can lead to failing bone growth, osteomalacia or rickets. Excess leads to toxicity.
Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant and is used in blood clotting, good sources are vegetable oils, nuts, vegetables and cereals. Deficiencies may occur in premature infants.
Vitamin K is used in blood clotting , good sources are from dark green leafy vegetables and is produced by bacteria in the gut. Deficiencies lead to longer blood clotting time.
Water-soluble vitamins (C and B). If these vitamins are consumed in excess they are excreted in the urine, and therefore have a very limited storage life in the body (vitamin B12 being the exception) and are required on a daily basis.
Vitamin C is used in production of collagen used in connective tissue and bone, wound healing and fighting infection, iron absorption and an anti-oxidant. Fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, and vegetables, especially green, are excellent sources. Deficiency leads to scurvy, excess to kidney stones.
Vitamin B (complex) is used in energy metabolism, biological reactions and production of blood cells. Found in liver, eggs, cereals, dairy products, green vegetables, nuts and wholemeal foods. Deficiency leads to beriberi, flaky skin, nerve and muscular system problems and hair loss, excess to sensory nerve pathways damage.
How to get enough vitamins:
Eat more fresh fruit, unprocessed foods and raw vegetables.
Avoid lengthy cooking techniques and deep-frying as it perishes the vitamins, try microwaving and steaming as this helps to preserve the vitamins.
Keep fruit and vegetables in the fridge where it is cold and dark.
NFor further information on our weight management courses call Greens, Gosforth: (0191) 213 0070.
|The statements which appear on have not been evaluated as medical cures. The information on this web site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Although every effort has been made to ensure that information is accurate, please note that some information may be outdated by more recent scientific developments. The information presented is meant for Nutritional Benefit and as an educational starting point only, not as a substitute for personal consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.|
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