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MINI GUIDE 06/2006

Vitamins: what they do and where to find them

VITAMINS

 

A (and its precursor ß-carotene)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
800 µg

BEST SOURCES
Yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, liver, dairy products.

FUNCTIONS
Formation and maintenance of skin, hair and mucous membranes; helps us see in dim light; bone and tooth growth.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Night blindness, dry scaly skin, frequent fatigue.

TOXIC? (4)
Yes in high doses.

TIPS
Serve fruits & vegetables raw and keep covered and refrigerated. Steam vegetables, grill, bake or braise meats.

DID YOU KNOW?
Vitamin A is also known under the name Retinol.

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B1 (thiamin)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
1.4 mg

BEST SOURCES
Yeast, wheat, whole grains, liver.

FUNCTIONS
Helps body release energy from carbohydrates during metabolism; growth and muscle tone.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Heart irregularity, fatigue, nerve disorders, mental confusion.

TOXIC? (4)
No, high doses are excreted by the kidneys.

TIPS
Do not rinse rice or pasta before and after cooking. Cook in minimal water.

DID YOU KNOW?
In 1910, a German scientist identified B1 for the first time and called it a 'vital amine' giving rise to the name vitamins.

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B2 (riboflavin)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
1.6 mg

BEST SOURCES
Yeast, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, offal, milk and eggs.

FUNCTIONS
Helps body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates during metabolism.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Cracks in corners of mouth, skin rash, anaemia.

TOXIC? (4)
No toxic effects reported.

TIPS
Store foods in containers that light cannot enter; cook vegetables in minimal water; roast or grill meats.

DID YOU KNOW?
Milk is the best source of vitamin B2. As this vitamin is light-sensitive, don't leave milk in the sun as the vitamin B2 will be destroyed.

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Niacin, Nicotinic acid equiv formerly known as (B3)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
18 mg

BEST SOURCES
Meat, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, peanuts, potatoes, dairy products, eggs.

FUNCTIONS
Involved in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Skin disorders, diarrhoea, indigestion, general fatigue.

TOXIC? (4)
Nicotinic acid form should be taken only under doctor's care.

TIPS
Roast or grill beef, veal, lamb and poultry. Cook potatoes in minimal water.

DID YOU KNOW?
Niacin is formed in the body by converting an amino acid found in proteins.

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Pantothenic acid formely known as (B5)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
6 mg

BEST SOURCES
Lean meats, whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits.

FUNCTIONS
As part of coenzyme A it is an essential part of the catabolism of all micro-nutrients.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Fatigue, vomiting, stomach stress, infections, muscle cramps.

TOXIC? (4)
No toxic effects reported

TIPS
Eat fruits and vegetables raw.

DID YOU KNOW?
It is believed some pantothenic acid is produced in the gastrointestinal tract.

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B6 (pyridoxine)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
2.0 mg

BEST SOURCES
Fish, poultry, leans meats, bananas, prunes, dried beans, whole grains, avocados.

FUNCTIONS
Helps build body tissue and aids in metabolism of protein.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Convulsions, dermatitis, muscular weakness, skin cracks, anaemia.

TOXIC? (4)
Long-term mega-doses may cause nerve damage in hands and feet

TIPS
Serve fruits raw or cook for shortest time in little water; roast or grill meats.

DID YOU KNOW?
Since B6 aids in use of protein in the body, the need for B6 increases with protein intake.

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Biotin also known as (B7, H) and sometimes incorrectly called (B8)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
150 µg(2)

BEST SOURCES
Cereal/grain products, yeast, liver, legumes.

FUNCTIONS
Involved in metabolism of protein, fats and carbohydrates.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Nausea, vomiting, depression, hair loss, dry, scaly skin.

TOXIC? (4)
No toxic effects reported.

TIPS
Storage, processing & cooking do not appear to affect this vitamin.

DID YOU KNOW?
A substance present in raw egg white (avidin) binds to biotin and makes it unavailable to the body.

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Folate, folacin, folic acid formerly known as (B9)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
200 µg

BEST SOURCES
Green leafy vegetables, offal, dried peas, beans and lentils.

FUNCTIONS
Aids in genetic material development and involved in red blood cell production.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Gastrointestinal disorders, anaemia, cracks on lips.

TOXIC? (4)
Some evidence of toxicity in large doses.

TIPS
Store vegetables in fridge and steam, boil or simmer in minimal water.

DID YOU KNOW?
Deficiencies can occur in premature infants and pregnant women.

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B12 (cobalamin)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
1.0 µg

BEST SOURCES
Meats, seafood and milk products.

FUNCTIONS
Aids cell development, functioning of the nervous system and the metabolism of protein and fat.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Anaemia, nervousness, fatigue, and, in some cases, neuritis and brain degeneration.

TOXIC? (4)
No toxic effects reported.

TIPS
Roast or grill meat and fish.

DID YOU KNOW?
Vegetarians who do not eat any animal products may need a supplement.

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C (ascorbic acid)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
60 mg

BEST SOURCES
Citrus fruits, berries, and vegetables - especially potatoes and peppers.

FUNCTIONS
Essential for structure of bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. Also helps maintain capillaries and gums and aids in absorption of iron.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Swollen or bleeding gums, slow wound healing, fatigue, scurvy, depression, poor digestion.

TOXIC? (4)
Intakes of one gram or more can cause nausea, cramps and diarrhoea.

TIPS
Do not store or soak fruits and vegetables in water. Refrigerate fresh juices and store only for 2-3 days.

DID YOU KNOW?
Smokers may benefit from an increased intake of vitamin C.

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D (calciferol)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
5 µg

BEST SOURCES
Sunlight, fish, eggs, butter, fortified margarine and dairy products.

FUNCTIONS
Aids in bone and tooth formation; helps maintain heart action and nervous system.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
In children: rickets and other bone deformities. In adults: calcium loss from bones.

TOXIC? (4)
High intakes may cause diarrhoea & weight loss.

TIPS
Storage, processing & cooking do not appear to affect this vitamin.

DID YOU KNOW?
Cholesterol is used to synthesise this vitamin upon sun exposure.

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E (tochopherol)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
10 mg

BEST SOURCES
Fortified & multi-grain cereals, nuts, wheat germ, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables.

FUNCTIONS
Protects blood cells, body tissue and essential fatty acids from harmful destruction in the body.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Muscular wasting, nerve damage, reproductive failure, anaemia.

TOXIC? (4)
Unlikely to consume toxic dietary amounts.

TIPS
Store in air-tight containers away from light.

DID YOU KNOW?
Some cereal products are fortified with vitamin E.

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K (phylloquinone)

EU RDA (1) Per Day
European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.
(3)

BEST SOURCES
Green leafy vegetables, fruit, dairy and grain products.

FUNCTIONS
Essential for blood clotting functions.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTONS
Bleeding disorders in newborn infants and those on blood-thinning medications.

TOXIC? (4)
Not toxic as found in food.

TIPS
Store in containers away from light.

DID YOU KNOW?
Vitamin K is also formed by bacteria in the colon.

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Definitions
EU RDA - European Union Recommended Daily Amounts. These are the values used for vitamins for the nutritional labelling of food products.

Sources Used for this Chart
EU RDA - Directive, 90/496/EEC, 1990.
Also information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(1) EU RDA - European Union Recommended Daily Amounts for Nutritional Labelling of Food Products.

(2) Safe intake per day.

(3) There is no EU RDA for vitamin K.

(4) Note that some vitamins in large or very large excess could produce toxic symptoms. Always keep to the recommended dosage as advised by your doctor or medical advisor.

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