These days we have dietary advice and nutritional guidelines from all directions shoved at us. We should be eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, keep salt intake down, avoid trans fats, increase monounsaturated fats… What good will following these guidelines do for us, and what are we missing out on by avoiding them?
Over my next few blogs I will outline the health benefits of ensuring we have sufficient vitamins, minerals, fats… in our diet. What happens if we have too much (yes – that is possible!), not enough, and which foods do we get them from?
The subject of this week’s blog will be water soluble vitamins.
As detailed in my blog “What the heck are fat soluble vitamins”, there are either water soluble or fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble are easily absorbed in the body, but are not stored. Any excess will be flushed out via our urine. However, because we do not store these, we need a continuous supply via our daily diet.
These vitamins are:
- Vitamin C
- B Vitamins
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin B6
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin B12
All water soluble vitamins need to be found via the diet. Vitamin C is found purely in fruit and veg, whereas the Vit B family is found in animal products, legumes, and – of course – fruit and veg.
So what do each of these vitamins do for us?
Vitamin C: needed by the body to make collagen (which helps keep bones, skin, teeth and blood vessels healthy). Also keeps the immune system healthy.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
Helps to break down and release energy from food – including metabolizing carbohydrates and amino acids. It also works to keep our nerves healthy.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Works to keep our skin, eyes and nervous system healthy. Also helps to metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Works to produce energy from food. Also keeps the nervous and digestive systems healthy. In large amounts, can help lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol and lower levels of fat in the blood.
Works to obtain energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat. Also produces hormones and cholesterol.
Plays a vital role in the creation of non-essential amino acids and helps the break down of glycogen (stored form of glucose). Also helps the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Keeps the immune and nervous system healthy.
Works together with Vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells.
Works to make red blood cells with the help of Folic Acid, and keeps the nervous system healthy. Metabolizes fatty acids and amino acids.
Deficiency in these vitamins in the UK is rare. However, those following a vegetarian or vegan diet may find it difficult to get sufficient levels of vitamin B12 in their diet. Speak to your doctor if you’re concerned.
A final note on the best way to prepare food to ensure you aren’t killing the vitamins. You can lose vitamins from food via heat and water – hence methods such as boiling should be avoided. Opt for steaming or grilling to make sure you’re preserving all the goodness 🙂
As anyways – ping me with any questions.