Vitamins are generally classified according to whether they are soluble in water of fat. The fat soluble vitamins include vitamins D, E, A and K. The rest are known as water soluble vitamins. Although B Vitamins can be classified individually, many of them work synergistically as a team. Vitamin B12 along with folate will be considered individually here.

Vitamin B12

As like the rest of the b vitamins B12 plays an integral role in the functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is also used by the body in the production of neurotransmitters which help to maintain a positive mood. This vitamin has a close relationship to folic acid where it helps DNA synthesising cells to metabolise folic acid efficiently. Vitamin B12 is generated from certain bacteria. This means that unless the plants have been contaminated with microbacteria no vegetation of itself contains levels of B12. Due to the bacterial content of animals, animal sources do contain levels of B12, including dairy and eggs.

Some vegetable foods have been claimed to be sources of vitamin B12. Research however indicates that some sea plankton contain an analogue form of B12 which has been demonstrated not to be metabolically used by the body. The liver has the ability to store vitamin B12 in the body for between 3 to 5 years. Some have proposed that vitamin B12 can be manufactured by the body using its own bacteria. Although this may happen in some it does not appear to happen in all, with some vegans becoming vitamin B12 deficient. Vegans should consider supplementation if they choose to refrain from the consumption of eggs.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A has a broad range of therapeutic benefits for the human body. It is classically known to assist in eye development, the function of the immune system, growth and reproduction.  The liver stores most of the vitamin A in the body and it is used as an antioxidant source. It is used by the body in the repair and maintenance of skin and mucous membranes of the body. Caution should be exercised when consuming the nutrient in larger doses especially in the case of pregnancy.

Vitamin A Sources: (the figures below are averages – IU per 100mg)
  • Chili peppers – 21,000
  • Dandelion leaves – 14,000
  • Carrots – 11,000
  • Dried Apricots – 10,000
  • Sweet potatoes – 8,500
  • Parsley – 8,500
  • Spinach – 8,000
  • Chives – 6,000
  • Mangoes – 5,000
  • Endives – 3,500
  • Romaine Lettuce – 2,000
  • Pumpkin – 1,500

Vitamin C

This vitamin is one of the most powerful antioxidants the body has in it possession. Vitamin C is used extensively in the body for tissue growth, development and repair. It is used as a co-factor in the metabolism of other nutrients and assists in the functions of the immune and adrenal systems. This vitamin helps the body fight against infections and to detoxify pollutants. Vitamin C especially enhances the absorption of Iron in the digestive system. Vitamin C works closely with Vitamin E and they regenerate each other, offering a continual antioxidant cycle of protection

Vitamin C Sources: (the figures below are averages – mg per 100mg)
  • Acerola – 1300
  • Red Chili Peppers – 350
  • Guavas – 250
  • Parsley – 170
  • Green Peppers – 130
  • Broccoli – 110
  • Cauliflower – 80
  • Strawberries – 60
  • Oranges – 50

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful protector against free radical damage and the oxidation of fats in the body. It not only protects body functioning but also other fat soluble vitamins from damage. Vitamin E especially is found to protect Vitamin A and increases the ability of the body to store Vitamin A.

Vitamin E Sources: (the figures below are averages – mg per 100mg)
  • Wheat germ oil – 220
  • Sunflower seeds – 90
  • Safflower oil – 70
  • Almonds – 50
  • Sesame oil – 45
  • Peanuts – 20
  • Olive oil – 20
  • Soybean oil – 15

Folic Acid

Folic acid plays an important role in human development especially in DNA and RNA synthesis. It is needed in the formation of red blood cell production and is often referred as brain food. As well as being involved in the production of red blood cells it also assists the formation and functioning of white blood cells, making it a supporter of the immune system. Folate has been highlighted of late as an important nutrient in the development of the fetus to encourage proper neural development. It should be noted however that all nutrients are necessary for proper development and function and not just folate.

Folate Sources: (the figures below are averages – mcg per 100mg)
  • Brewers Yeast- 2000
  • Black-eyed Peas – 450
  • Rice germ – 430
  • Soy Flour – 420
  • Wheat germ – 300
  • Soybeans – 225
  • Kidney beans – 180
  • Asparagus – 110
  • Lentils – 100
  • Walnuts – 75

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