A-Z to Healthy Living
Vegetarian refers to a diet that is predominantly based on plant foods. There are different types of vegetarian diets in which different levels of animal foods may be included. For example, a vegan diet contains no foods of animal origin, lacto-vegetarians include dairy products and ovo-lacto-vegetarians include dairy products, honey and eggs but avoid meat, chicken and fish.
Vitamin A is found in animal foods including liver, dairy products, egg yolk and some fatty fish. Orange and yellow coloured fruit and vegetables (e.g. mangoes, carrots) contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene which are converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays an important role in vision and growth and beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to help protect against free radical damage.
Vitamin B Group
The B group vitamins (B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B12, folate and biotin) are found in meat, poultry, wholegrain products, dairy products, eggs, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Their main role in the body is energy metabolism.
Vitamin C plays a role in ensuring healthy connective tissue such as skin and cartilage. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and can be found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes the absorption of calcium and its deposition in bones and teeth making them stronger and healthier. Adequate vitamin D prevents rickets (weakened bones) in children and osteomalacia in adults, and when combined with enough calcium, helps prevent osteoporosis in older adults. The body can make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, another guaranteed source is foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk and cereals. Recent studies link vitamin D deficiency with the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
The main role of Vitamin E in the body is as an antioxidant. Vitamin E protects many substances from oxidation but is particularly important for maintaining the stability of cell membranes by protecting them from free radical damage. Good sources of vitamin E include almonds, peanuts and soy bean oil.
Vitamins are essential micronutrients that are used in the body for a variety of processes. They are classified into two groups - fat soluble and water soluble. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. The B group vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B12), folate, biotin and vitamin C are water soluble vitamins.