Vitamins allow your body to grow and develop. They also play important roles in bodily functions such as metabolism, immunity and digestion.
We all know vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients the body needs – but what does each vitamin do? And which foods are vitamin powerhouses? Here’s the low-down on which letter does what, from A (that is, Vitamin A) to Z (or – zinc).
For those among us who aren’t nutritionists, dieticians or experts in natural health, the letters and numbers which explain the world of healthy food can seem pretty daunting. One thing’s for sure – experts recommend fuelling your body with healthy food before you turn to supplements. The best bet is to make sure you eat a balanced diet with as many wholefoods as possible.
1. VITAMIN A
GOOD FOR: Healthy eyes and general growth and development, including healthy teeth and skin.
NATURAL SOURCE: Carrots and other orange foods including sweet potato and cantaloupe melons – all of which get their hue from the carotene pigment.
2. VITAMIN B
GOOD FOR: Energy production, immune function and iron absorption.
NATURAL SOURCE: This crucial group of nutrients can be found in whole unprocessed foods, specifically whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, yeast and molasses.
3. VITAMIN C
GOOD FOR: Strengthening blood vessels and giving skin its elasticity, anti-oxidant function and iron absorption. NATURAL SOURCE: Everyone knows this one – oranges! But they’re not the only source – other fruits and veggies packed with Vitamin C include guava, red and green peppers, kiwi, grapefruits, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe.
4. VITAMIN D
GOOD FOR: Strong healthy bones.
NATURAL SOURCE: Apart from spending a few minutes out in the sun, which stimulates Vitamin D production, you can get this nutritional must from eggs, fish and mushrooms.
5. VITAMIN E
GOOD FOR: Blood circulation, and protection from free radicals.
NATURAL SOURCE: Our favourite Vitamin E-rich food is the mighty almond. You can also fill up on other nuts, sunflower seeds and tomatoes to reap the benefits.