Vitamin and Mineral Basics
Vitamin A plays an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation. Vitamin A comes from animal sources such as meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A, is found primarily in fruits and vegetables including carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, grapefruit, apricots, broccoli, spinach and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine or Thiamin)
Thiamine is involved in numerous body functions including: nervous system and muscle functioning, flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells; multiple enzyme processes; carbohydrate metabolism; and production of hydrochloric acid necessary for proper digestion. Food sources of thiamine include: beef, brewer’s yeast, legumes, milk, oats, oranges, rice and whole grain cereals.
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is not stored in the body and must be replenished daily. It is important for body growth, red cell production and releases energy from carbohydrates. Food sources include: lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, dairy products and milk.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin)
Niacin aids in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, nerves and is also important for energy conversion. Food sources include: dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, eggs, legumes, breads and cereals.
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic acid is important in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Small amounts are found in nearly every food. Food sources with high amounts of pantothenic acid include: whole grain cereals, legumes, eggs, meat, and royal jelly.
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal)
Vitamin B-6 performs a wide variety of functions in the body including protein metabolism, cellular growth and immune system and nervous system support. It is also essential of the immune system. The body cannot store vitamin B-6 so a continuous supply is needed. Food sources of vitamin B-6 include beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish and whole grains.
Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B-12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological functions and DNA synthesis. It functions as a cofactor for methionine synthase and L-methylmalonyl-CA mutase. Food sources of vitamin B-12 are eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk and milk products.
Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine and certain neurotransmitters. It is also involved in protein metabolism. It also is a nutrient that has important physiological antioxidant activity that regenerates other compounds with antioxidant activity in the body. Food sources of C include citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens, sweet and white potatoes, red peppers, cabbage,
cauliflower, watermelon, mango and papaya.
Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone. It is also needed for bone growth
and modulation of neuromuscular and immune system function. Recent studies have shown that vitamin D may have protective qualities in important health areas. Food sources of vitamin D include cheese, butter, cream, fortified milk and cereals, fish and oysters. Vitamin D also comes from exposure to direct sunlight.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble with antioxidant activity that stops the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formed when fat undergoes oxidation. Scientists are investigating whether, by limiting free-radical production and possibly through other mechanisms, vitamin E might help guard against or delay health issues associated with free radicals. Vitamin E is also involved in immune system function and support. Food sources of vitamin E include: wheat germ, vegetable oils, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, olives, seeds, nuts and corn.
Vitamin H (Biotin)
Biotin is used in cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats and proteins and energy production. It can be manufactured in the body. Food sources of vitamin H include: cheese, beef, liver, eggs, mushrooms, spinach, yeast and nuts.
Calcium is required for muscle contraction, blood vessel expansion and contraction, secretion of hormones and enzymes and transmission impulses throughout the nervous system. It also supports bone and teeth structure. Food sources of calcium are: milk and dairy products.
Chromium is an essential mineral known to support the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the body. It is not made by the body and must be obtained from the diet or supplementation. Food sources of chromium include: liver, meat, eggs, chicken, oysters, wheat germ, green peppers, bananas and spinach.
Iron is an essential mineral needed to make oxygen carrying hemoglobin, found in red blood cells and myoglobin, which is found in muscles. Food sources of iron include: dried beans, dried fruits, eggs, liver, beef, oysters, salmon, tuna, whole grains and poultry.
Magnesium is a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong. It is also known to be involved in metabolism and protein synthesis. Food sources of magnesium include: fruits and vegetables, peas and beans, soy products and whole grains.
Manganese is a mineral element that is nutritionally essential and important in the breakdown of amino acids for energy. It is a catalyst for the breakdown of fats and cholesterol and is a constituent of some enzymes and an activator of others. Manganese plays a role in supporting nerve and brain health, skeletal development and hormone production. Food sources of manganese include: whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables, and teas.
Molybdenum is a trace mineral found in most plant and animal tissues. It is an essential cofactor for many of the enzymes involved in protein synthesis and mobilization of iron use in the body. Molybdenum also helps with metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Food sources of molybdenum include: whole grains, buckwheat, barley, wheat germ, legumes, lima beans, sunflower seeds, dark green leafy vegetables and meats.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral. It aids the production of enzymes with antioxidant activity, which play a roll in guarding against cell damage. Selenium is also associated with supporting a healthy immune system and is antagonistic to heavy metals including lead, mercury, aluminum and cadmium. Food sources of selenium include: vegetables, shellfish, fish, eggs, chicken, liver, garlic, brewer’s yeast and wheat germ.
Zinc is an important trace mineral required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes. It plays a role in immune system function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development. Food sources of zinc include: beef, pork, lamb, dark meat of chicken, legumes, peanuts and peanut butter.