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You'll find lots of information in the following tables about Vitamins, Minerals and Nutritional Terms.


Vitamin Fat or Water Soluble Function Found In
Vitamin A
Essential for: normal growth; formation of teeth & bones; cell structure; protection of respiratory, digestive & urinary tracts against infection Liver, fish-liver oils, milk & dairy products, margarine, fruits & vegetables (ie oranges & carrots)
Vitamin B12
Needed for: growth & development; production of red blood cells in bone marrow; utilisation of folic acid & carbohydrates; functioning of nervous system Liver, kidney, chicken, beef, pork, fish, eggs, milk, cheese & enriched cereals
Vitamin C
Chemical name is ascorbic acid. Essential for: growth & maintenance of healthy teeth, bones, gums, ligaments & blood vessels; absorption of iron Citrus fruits, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, green peppers, strawberries & blackcurrants
Vitamin D
Helps regulate balance of calcium & phosphates and aids absorption of calcium; essential for strong teeth & bones Cod-liver oil, oily fish (ie sardines, herring & tuna); liver, egg yolk & margarine
Vitamin E
Essential for: normal cell structure; formation of red blood cells; protecting lungs & other tissues from damage by pollutants Vegetable oils (corn, soya bean, olive & sunflower); nuts, meat, green leafy vegetables, cereals, wheatgerm & egg yolk
Vitamin K
Essential for the formation of substances (in the liver) which promote blood clotting Green leafy vegetables (especially cabbage & broccoli), vegetable oils, egg yolk, cheese, pork and liver
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Important in the functioning of nerves, muscles & heart Wheatgerm, bran, wholegrain or enriched cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice, pasta, liver, kidney, pork, fish, beans, nuts & eggs
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Involved in: breakdown & utilisation of carbohydrates, fats & proteins; production of energy in cells; utilisation of other B vitamins; production of hormones by the adrenal glands. Brewer's yeast, liver, kidney, milk, cheese, eggs, wholegrain & enriched cereals, wheatgerm
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Important for: maintenance of red blood cells & antibodies; function of digestive & nervous systems; maintenance of healthy skin Liver, chicken, pork, fish, whole grains, wheatgerm, bananas, potatoes & dried beans
Folic Acid
Plays vital role in growth & reproduction; important in production of red blood cells & healthy function of the nervous system Green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, liver, nuts, dried beans, peas, egg yolk & wholemeal bread
Vitamin H (Biotin)
Essential for: process of breaking down fatty acids & carbohydrates; the excretion of the waste products of protein breakdown Liver, peanuts, dried beans, egg yolk, mushrooms, bananas, grapefruit & water melon
Important for: function of nervous & digestive systems; manufacture of sex hormones; healthy skin Liver, lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, dried beans, enriched cereals, bread, wheatgerm & potatoes
Pantothenic Acid
Important for: manufacture of corticosteroids & sex hormones; utilising other vitamins; function of nervous system & adrenal glands Liver, heart, kidney, fish, egg yolk, wheatgerm, most vegetables & most cereals


Mineral Function Found In
Calcium Essential for: cell function; muscle contraction; transmission of nerve impulses; blood clotting Milk, cheese, butter, margarine, green vegetables, pulses, nuts, soya bean products, hard water
Chromium Required only in small (trace) amounts but essential because of its vital role in the activities of several enzymes Red meat, cheese, butter, margarine, wholegrain cereals and breads, green vegetables
Copper Required only in trace amounts but essential for its vital role in the activities of several enzymes Red meat, poultry, liver, fish, seafood, wholegrain cereals and breads, green vegetables, pulses, nuts, raisins, mushrooms
Fluorine Thought to strengthen the mineral composition of tooth enamel, making it resistant to acid attacks Fish, fluoridated water, tea
Iodine Essential for the formation of thyroid hormones which control the rate of growth & development (metabolism) Milk, cheese, butter, margarine, fish, wholegrain cereals & breads, iodized salt
Magnesium Essential for: formation of teeth & bones; muscle contraction; transmission of nerve impulses; activation of many enzymes Milk, fish, wholegrain cereals & breads, green vegetables, pulses, nuts, hard water
Phosphorus Essential for: structure of teeth & bones; assisting the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance of blood, urine, slaiva & other body fluids Red meat, poultry, liver, milk, cheese, butter, margarine, eggs, fish, wholegrain cereals & breads, green vegetables, root vegetables, pulses, nuts, fruit
Potassium Assists in: maintenance of normal heart rhythm; regulation of body's water balance; conduction of nerve impulses Wholegrain cereals & breads, green vegetables, pulses, fruit
Selenium A trace element which may help to preserve the elasticity of body tissues Red meat, liver, milk, fish, seafood, wholegrain cereals & breads
Sodium Helps: regulate body's water balance; maintain normal heart rhythm; conduction of nerve impulses & contraction of muscles Red meat, poultry, liver, milk, cheese, butter, margarine, eggs, fish, wholegrain cereals & breads, green vegetables, root vegetables, pulses, nuts, fruit, table salt, processed foods
Zinc Essential for: normal growth & development of reproductive organs; functioning of prostate gland; healing wounds; manufacture of proteins & nucleic acids Red meat, fish, seafood, eggs, milk, wholegrain cereals & breads, pulses

Glossary of Nutritional Terms

Term Definition
Absorption For a vitamin or mineral to be used by the body, it has to pass from the intestine to the blood or lymphatic system. This is called absorption.
Amino acids Used to build protein in the body. The protein we eat is digested to free the amino acids which then build other proteins in the body.
Antioxidants These work to neutralise the potentially damaging free radicals in the body. Vitamins C, E and Beta-carotene are antioxidants.
Carbohydrates A type of nutrient which can be described as simple (sugars) or complex (dietary fibre and starches).
Deficiency This happens when we don't have enough of a particular nutrient to maintain health.
Dietary fibre A mixture of complex carbohydrates the products of which are used by the body for energy.
Enzymes Proteins which regulate the speed of chemical reactions. There are many thousands of different enzymes working through the body.
Essential nutrients Nutrients that the body cannot make, or cannot make enough of to maintain health, so they must be present and fully formed in the food we eat.
Fat Used to describe fats and oils in the diet.
Fat-soluble vitamins Vitamins which dissolve in fats rather than water. They can be stored in the body for longer than water soluble vitamins (A,D,E & K are fat soluble).
Fatty acids Part of the basic unit of fat known as triglyceride. Fatty acids can be saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.
Free radicals Unstable by-products of the chemical reactions taking place in the body. Damage can be caused to cell membranes, proteins and DNA by the free radicals attempting to stabilise. Antioxidants in healthy body tissues neutralise the effects of free radicals by ending the chain of events and preventing damage.
Glycerol Part of the fat unit triglyceride to which fatty acids are attached.
Lipids Scientific terms for fats and those substances which have similar chemical characteristics to fats.
Metabolism Used to describe the sum of chemical reactions which allow the body to function, move and grow.
Minerals Non carbon based substances found in soil and rocks. Plants absorb the minerals from the soil, which are then passed to animals that eat the plants. We derive our mineral intake from both plants and animals.
Monounsaturated fatty acids Fatty acids which contain only one double bond (a type of chemical bond) in their structure.
Nutrients Substances found in the diet which the body needs for growth, mainenance and energy. The nutrient groups are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids Fatty acids which contain more than one double bond (a type of chemical bond) in their structure.
Protein Built from amino acids, it is broken down during digestion into the amino acids which then build other proteins throughout the body.
RDA Abbreviation of Recommended Daily Amount or Recommended Daily Allowance. This is the amount of vitamin of mineral the average healthy person needs each day to prevent deficiency.
Saturated fatty acids Fatty acids which contain no double bonds (a type of chemical bond) in their structure.
Simple carbohydrates Sugars such as sucrose, fructose, glucose and lactose.
Starch A complex carbohydrate stored by plants as an energy source.
Trace elements Minerals of which we need only a small amount in our diet to remain healthy, for example chromium and selenium.
Triglyceride Digested fat in the diet is broken down into triglycerides. Each triglyceride is made of glycerol and three fatty acids.
Vitamins Complex substances, a balance of which is vital for good health.
Water-soluble vitamins Vitamins which are dissolved in water rather than fat and which the body is unable to store. They are passed out in the urine (B and C vitamins are water soluble).