You need vitamin A for healthy hair and skin, good night vision and also to help protect against infections inside your body. Good sources of vitamin A are dairy products and liver, but your body can also make vitamin A from a substance called beta-carotene, which is found in yellow or orange fruit and vegetables like tomatoes and carrots. So now you can see why eating carrots is good for your eyes!
You need vitamin B12 to keep your red blood cells healthy – which helps prevent anaemia – and to help your body convert carbohydrate from the food you eat into energy. It also helps keep your nervous system healthy. The best sources of vitamin B12 are meat and dairy products.
Vitamin B Complex
The vitamin B complex is the name given to a group of vitamins
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Thiamine helps your body to convert carbohydrates to energy, and it’s also needed for your nerves, muscles and heart to work well. Good sources of thiamine are wheat germ, bran and whole grains.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Riboflavin helps your body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. You can get this vitamin from liver, milk and eggs. Brewer’s yeast is also a rich source of vitamin B2.
Niacin helps keep skin, nervous system and digestive system healthy. It’s also used by your body to make hormones (chemical messengers inside your body). Foods rich in niacin include meat, poultry and fish.
Pantothenic acid is required for growth and development, a healthy nervous system, and to make hormones. It also helps your body use other vitamins effectively. Liver, kidney, heart, fish, eggs and wheat germ are all rich sources of pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine helps your body break down and use proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It’s also needed for healthy skin, fighting infection and for healthy red blood cells which helps prevent anaemia. Fish, chicken, whole grains, bananas and dried beans are all good sources of vitamin B6.
Vitamin H (biotin)
Biotin helps the body get rid of the waste products of protein breakdown, and also helps break down fats and carbohydrates. Foods rich in vitamin H include liver, dried beans and mushrooms.
Folic acid is essential for growth and reproduction, for healthy red blood cells (to prevent anaemia) and for a healthy nervous system. Green leafy vegetables, dried beans, liver and wholemeal bread are rich in folic acid. If you are planning to start a family it’s important that you are getting enough folic acid.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is required for healthy bones, teeth, gums, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves, and helps your body fight infections and heal wounds. It also helps your body absorb iron. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, a substance that protects the cells inside your body from certain harmful chemicals. Citrus fruits and blackcurrants are good sources of
Vitamin D is actually a group of chemicals including vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D has many important roles in the body – it helps you absorb calcium and to maintain the correct balance of calcium in the body for healthy bones and teeth. Good sources of vitamin D are oily fish (sardines, herrings and salmon), liver, egg yolk and margarine. The food you eat isn’t the only source of vitamin D. Your body can manufacture its own vitamin D when your skin’s exposed to sunlight. This is why vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency is pretty rare in the UK. Those at risk are young children, the elderly and people who cover their bodies completely, and therefore are never exposed to the sun.
Like vitamin D, vitamin E is really a group of chemicals rather than one substance. The most important of these chemicals is alpha-tocopherol. We need vitamin E because it’s an antioxidant and can protect the cells in your body from certain harmful chemicals. It’s also required for healthy red blood cells. Foods rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils, cereals, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin E deficiency is also rare in the UK.
Vitamin K is needed so that your blood can clot. This is what stops a cut on your skin from bleeding continuously. Vitamin K is found mainly in green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils and egg yolk.