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V for vitamins

vitamins 21_05_12Make sure you’re not Missing out on those all-important vitamins with this easy guide.

How does vitamin B2 differ from vitamin B6? And why do we need vitamin K? Use our guide to avoid the confusion and make sure you’re getting all the goodness you need for glowing good health every day. We all know vitamins are good for us, but it’s not always clear where they come from or what they actually do for us. Now’s your chance to find out, so you can get the shiny hair, radiant skin and slim figure you’re after with at home’s guide to getting your daily dose…

Vitamin A

Why? – It’s crucial for healthy skin, growth and the immune system. Also essential for night vision and protects against many cancers.
How much? – 0.6mg to 0.7mg a day.
Good sources – Fish, liver and yellow, orange, red and dark green fruit and veg – 25g liver provides more than 100% of your daily needs.
Deficiency – Lack of this vitamin could result in mouth ulcers, acne, frequent colds, dry skin, dandruff and poor night vision.

Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine)

Why? – Essential for energy, brain function and digestion.
How much? – 0.8mg to 1mg a day.
Good Sources – Watercress, lean pork, lamb, peas, asparagus, mushrooms, nuts and seeds – 60g of sunflower seeds provides 100% of your daily needs.
Deficiency – Irritability, poor concentration and memory, constipation and stomach pains.

Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin)

Why? – Important for healthy hair, nails and eyes. Helps metabolism and fights infection.
How much? – 1.1mg to 1.3mg a day.
Good sources – Mushrooms, dairy products, fish, avocado, broccoli, wholemeal products.
Deficiency – Burning eyes, sore tongue, eczema, split nails, cracked lips and sensitivity to light.

Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin)

Why? – Helps balance blood sugar, lowers cholesterol and aids digestion.
How much? – 13mg to 17mg a day.
Good sources – Tuna, chicken, mushrooms, beef, asparagus, cabbage, fortified breads and breakfast cereals.
Deficiency – Lack of energy, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, depression and bleeding gums.

Vitamin B5

Why? – It controls fat metabolism, essential for brain and nerves and anti stress hormones.
How much? – 4mg to 7mg a day.
Good sources – Lentils, fish, poultry, eggs, wholegrains, watercress, corn – 75g of chicken provides 100% of your daily needs.
Deficiency – Poor concentration, nausea, exhaustion after light exercise and anxiety.

Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine)

Why? – A natural anti-depressant and diuretic. Essential for protein digestion and hormones, helps with PMS and the menopause.
How much? – 1.2mg to 1.4mg a day.
Good sources – Bananas, watercress, red kidney beans, chickpeas and potatoes.
Deficiency – Water retention, depression and muscle cramps.

Vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin)

Why? – Responsible for red cell production and replication.
How much? – 1.5mcg a day.
Good sources – Clams, mackerel, soya milk, sardines, oysters, tuna, chicken, eggs.
Deficiency – Lack of energy, confusion, eczema or dermatitis.

Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid)

Why? – Strengthens immune system and fights infections. Keeps bones, skin and joints strong, fights toxins.
How much? – 40mg a day.
Good sources – Peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, dark green leafy veg.
Deficiency – Frequent colds and infections, lack of energy.

Vitamin D

Why? – For the absorption of calcium.
How much? – Over 60s, pregnant and breast feeding women is 10mcg a day.
Good sources – Exposure to sunlight. Herrings, mackerel, salmon, oysters, feta cheese, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals.
Deficiency Causes – muscle twitches, insomnia and nervousness.

Vitamin E

Why? – Fights toxins. Has been found to slow prgession of Parkinson’s disease, improves circulation and reduces severe leg pain.
How much? – 3mg to 4mg a day.
Good sources – Almonds and walnuts.
Deficiency – Lack of sex drive, easy bruising, infertility.

Vitamin K

Why? – Controls blood clotting.
How much? – 1mcga day per one kilogram of bodyweight.
Good sources – Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, pistachio nuts, dairy products.
Deficiency – Bleeding, such as nose bleeds, and easy bruising.

Vital vitamins for women’s health
While we can get much of what we need from a balanced diet, most women could benefit from supplementing healthy eating with certain vitamins…

Vitamin and nutrition experts from Vitabiotics recognise that our bodies go through many changes, and the vitamins we need for optimum health change, too. At 40, a woman’s skin begins to show the signs of ageing, main changes include: a lack of collagen and elastin, a general thinning of skin, drying out of the skin, DNA damage and decreased circulation. Taking a supplement such as Vitabiotics Perfectil is particularly beneficial for the dermal layer of the skin, hair follicles and nail beds. Perfectil also contains antioxidants to help protect delicate skin tissues against sun damage, too.

This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]

Photograph: Getty Images

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