vitamins and minerals

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Vitamins and minerals are known as micro-nutrients, because even though your body only needs them in small amounts, they are vital for virtually every function- from cell division to using the energy from your food.  Below I have listed the vitamins alphabetically, however they also can be categorised into fat soluble and water soluble vitamins

Fat soluble = Vitamin A, D and E. This means they are absorbed best with and are stored in fat.
Water soluble = Vitamin B’s and C . This means they are absorbed easily but also excreted in water, and not stored.

RDA = Recommended Daily Allowance. This means that the stated dose is the recommended safe dose to take daily.

Vitamins

1. Vitamin A (Retinol)

Functions Good for the eyes, growth, taste and appetite.
Deficiency Signs Loss of night vision (night blindness).
Food Sources Carrots, cod liver oil, liver, green leafy vegetables, yellow fruits, enriched margarine, milk and egg yolks.
Safety Vitamin A is stored in body fat and can build up over time and during pregnancy. Getting too much of this vitamin can be toxic.
Damaged By Fatty Acids
RDA 800 mcg

2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Functions Helps the muscles, nervous system, heart, digestive system and nerve tissues damaged by alcoholism.
Deficiency Signs Confusion, off-balance, tingling in the extremities, poor concentration, appetite loss and exhaustion.
Food Sources Egg yolk, yeast, cereal, liver, red meat, wheat germ and nuts.
Safety This vitamin is water soluble and any excess amounts are eliminated in the urine. No known toxicity.
Damaged By Alcohol, coffee and heat.
RDA 1.4 mg

3. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Functions Hair, skin nails, growth, proper metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates, the eyes and sensitive oral areas.
Deficiency Signs Itching of the lips, eyes, throat, nose and mouth. Can also show up as cracking in the lip corners.
Food Sources Green leafy vegetables, milk, cheese, yeast, fish and liver.
Safety This vitamin is water soluble and excess amounts are excreted in the urine. No known toxicity.
Damaged By Light and alcohol. Paper cartons help protect B2 fortified products from light.
RDA 1.6 mg

4. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Functions Prevents issues with nerves, skin problems, increases proper absorption of carbohydrates and protein.
Deficiency Signs Inflammation of the skin
Food Sources Chicken, pork, bananas, fish, dry beans and whole grains.
Safety Overdose levels of this vitamin are not currently known, but may cause issues with the nervous system.
Damaged By Estrogen, contraceptives, overcooked roasted or boiled foods and alcohol.
RDA The recommended dose is 2 mg daily, but may be higher in contraceptive use.

5. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Functions Formation of red blood cells and nerve tissue.
Deficiency Signs Anemia, fatigue, memory issues, numbness and tingling.
Food Sources Fortified cereals, eggs, milk, cheese, poultry, shellfish, liver and red meat.
Safety This vitamin is water soluble and not known to be toxic.
Damaged By Alcohol, estrogen, sleeping medications, sunlight and water.
RDA 1 mcg

6. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Functions Wound healing, protection from viral and bacterial infections, immune system support, prevention of scurvy, cell lifespan and lowering cholesterol.
Deficiency Signs Poor wound healing, fatigue and gum bleeding.
Food Sources Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, berries, peppers, potatoes, kiwi fruit, cauliflower and tomatoes.
Safety Over 2000 mg daily can cause nausea and diarrhea. There is a chance that 1000 to 5000 mg daily can have damaging effects on DNA.
Damaged By Heat, smoking, boiling foods, and light.
RDA 60 mg

7. Vitamin D

Functions Strong teeth and bones.
Deficiency Signs Weak bones (osteomalacia), rickets in children and unhealthy teeth.
Food Sources Cod liver oil, sun exposure (our body can make some of the vitamin D we need from the sun on the skin), salmon, tuna, herring and vitamin D fortified milk products.
Safety Vitamin D is stored in the body’s fat cells and can accumulate. Too much vitamin D can cause toxicity, but the overdose amounts are different for everyone. For example, children should not take more than 400 iu daily.
Damaged By Mineral oil
RDA 5 mcg

8. Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Functions Powerful antioxidant that serves to clear the body of toxins.
Deficiency Signs Fertility issues and muscle weakness.
Food Sources Nuts, soy beans, broccoli, vegetable oil, eggs, whole grain products, spinach and sprouts.
Safety Amounts in excess of 400 iu daily can increase the risk of death from long term illness and heart failure. Known drug interaction with Coumadin to increase the risk of bleeding issues.
Damaged By Frost, oxygen, chlorine, heat and iron.
RDA 10 mg

9. Vitamin H (Biotin)

Functions Strong hair and nails, keeping blood sugar levels stable and helping metabolism react to changes in the body.
Deficiency Signs Fatigue, loss of hair, muscle weakness and pain, poor appetite, depression and nausea.
Food Sources Yeast, meat, milk, liver, peanuts, egg yolks, soybeans and cereal.
Safety Biotin can used in high doses. For example, in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis in infants, no adverse effects are reported.
Damaged By Smoking and alcohol use.
RDA Biotin deficiency tends to be rare, so no RDA has been established.

10. Vitamin K

Functions Assists with blood clotting after injury, wound healing, protects bones from osteoporosis and may protect against cancer.
Deficiency Signs Bleeding gums, easy bruising, anemia, nose bleeds and increase menstrual bleeding in females.
Food Sources Milk, cheese, egg yolks, kale, collard greens, all green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, a few of the fruits and liver.
Safety Vitamin K has no reported toxicity.
Damaged By Salicylates (aspirin), barbiturates, cefamandole and blood thinners.
RDA Infants: 5-10 mcg dailyChildren: 15-30 mcg dailyAdolescents: 45-60 mcg daily

11. Folic Acid

Functions When taken within the first three months of pregnancy can assist with cleft lip, cleft palate and spinal bifida prevention, helps to build healthy red blood cells.
Deficiency Signs Anemia, red tongue and fatigue from anemia.
Food Sources Egg yolks, carrots, yeast, liver, apricots, pumpkin, melon, rye, avocado, beans, whole wheat products and green leafy vegetables.
Safety Folic acid is water soluble and excreted in the urine so there is no risk of toxicity.
Damaged By Heat, water and sunlight.
RDA Women who are planning to become pregnant or who are in the first 3 months of pregnancy need to take 400 mcg daily. All others should take 200 mcg daily.

Minerals

1. Calcium

Functions Teeth and bone strength, muscle contractions, blood clotting and nerve functions.
Deficiency Signs Brittle bones, unhealthy teeth, muscle spasms (tetany).
Food Sources Milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, green leafy vegetables.
Safety High doses of calcium can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, headache, increased heart attack risk and gall and kidney stones.
Damaged By None reported.
RDA 800 mg

2. Iron

Functions Building up red blood cells, building white blood cells, strengthening the immune system and muscle function.
Deficiency Signs Poor concentration, fatigue, and increased irritability.
Food Sources Red meat, egg yolks, oily fish, green leafy vegetables, whole wheat and grains.
Safety The body builds up iron stores and can be toxic in high doses, possibly even fatal. Over 17 mg can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Damaged By None reported.
RDA 14 mg

3. Magnesium

Functions Muscle function, healthy teeth, energy conversion of foods we eat, bone strength, cell repair, body temperature regulation.
Deficiency Signs Muscle cramping and spasms, weak bones and increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Food Sources Nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
Safety Magnesium is a natural laxative, so over dosage can result in diarrhea.
Damaged By None reported.
RDA 300 mg

4. Zinc

Functions Promotes immune system health, helps the body breakdown and use carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Deficiency Signs Skin, throat and eye lesions, poor sense of smell and taste. Poor wound healing and hair loss. Diarrhea and pediatric growth issues.
Food Sources Brown rice, shellfish, meat, milk and whole grains.
Safety Over 100 mg a day side effects include nausea, vomiting and stomach cramping.
Damaged By None reported.
RDA 15 mg