15.Vitamins, Minerals and Trace Elements - vegetarian lifestyle recipe book


If you follow this diet you will get all the vitamins, minerals and trace elements that you require without the need to take any supplements.

Serve green vegetables with a dab of butter or add a dressing of olive oil as this increases the absorption of vitamins by the body. This is because some of these vitamins are only soluble in oil, not water.

  • Vitamin A: retinol is made inside our bodies from beta carotene which gives the orange and yellow colour to fruits and vegetables. Good sources are carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mango, yellow fleshed melon, peaches, nectarines, pumpkin, tomato, spinach, watercress and dark green leafy vegetables. We only make as much vitamin A as we need.
  • Vitamin A is also found in cheese and eggs. Smaller amounts are obtained from yogurt, milk and butter. If we eat too much vitamin A, we suffer joint pains until we have used up the excess. Pregnant women should not eat excess vitamin A as this can damage the foetus.
  • Vitamin A is important for the care of the eyes, and for the immune system to fight off infection. It is essential for normal growth and repair of tissues. It is also important in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Vitamin B1: thiamine is needed to release the energy from food. Good sources are potatoes, wholegrain cereals, green vegetables, pulses, nuts and sunflower seeds. Diets high in refined starch can suffer from B1 deficiency.
  • Vitamin B2: riboflavine is needed to release the energy from food. Good sources are milk and cheese.
  • Vitamin B3 (PP): niacin or nicotinic acid, is needed to release the energy from food. Good sources are peas and beans and wholegrain cereals. This vitamin in maize is unavailable unless treated with alkali. The body can make niacin from the tryptophan present in eggs.
  • Vitamin B5: pantothenic acid is needed to make energy available to the body's cells. Good sources are egg, cheese, mushrooms, peanuts and banana.
  • Vitamin B6: pyridoxine is needed to make proper use of proteins. Good sources are cereal and pulses. Supplements are potentially dangerous as an excess can result in nerve damage
  • Vitamin B12: cobalamin is essential for the formation of red blood cells. Good sources are cheese and eggs. Vegans are at risk from a characteristic anaemia as B12 does not occur in vegetable food.
  • Vitamin B(M): folic acid is also essential for the formation of red blood cells. Good sources are broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts and other green leafy vegetables, beetroot, broad beans, sweet corn, eggs and whole grain cereals. The Department of Health advises 400ug a day for pregnant women to reduce risk of spina bifida.
  • Vitamin B(H): biotin is needed to make energy available from fat. Good sources are wholegrain cereals, lentils, nuts, cauliflower. It is also produced by bacteria in the large intestine.
  • Vitamin C: ascorbic acid is essential to keep our connective tissues healthy and to heal wounds. It is also needed to enable iron to be absorbed from food. Good sources are blackcurrants, cherries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, gooseberries, peppers, guava, oranges, sprouts, cauliflower, potato. Vitamin C is water soluble so cook vegetables by steaming or in a microwave without adding water. Use the water that vegetables are cooked in to make soups or sauces.
  • Vitamin D: calciferol helps the body make proper use of calcium in bones and teeth. it is produced by the action of sunlight on the skin. Good sources are eggs, butter, yogurt. Too high a vitamin D intake from the food can result in excess calcium being absorbed from the food resulting in damage to the kidneys.
  • Vitamin E: tocopherol mops up dangerous chemicals in the bloodstream -100IU a day has been shown to be beneficial. Good sources are eggs, butter, vegetable oil, almonds, avocado, pine kernels, wholegrain cereals and sunflower seeds.
  • Vitamin F: linoleic and alpha linolenic acids. These are known to be essential for the correct functioning of cell membranes. Good sources are vegetable oils.

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