Vitamin A (Retinol) : The fountain of youth
Vitamin A is important in vision maintenance and cell renewal. Lack of appetite, brittle nails, dry skin, brittle hair, skin rashes, vision disorders and mucous membrane infections can indicate a lack of vitamin A.
Foods particularly rich in vitamin A include liver, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, papaya, kale, tomatoes, avocado, peach and apricots.
Vitamin A belongs to the fat-soluble vitamins and is the only vitamin that should not be overdosed. Pregnant women in particular should pay attention to dosage.
Vitamin B is a group of eight vitamins, all of which serve as catalysts for other metabolic reactions. B vitamins follow no numbering order, because originally the character of many substances once considered as vitamins could not be confirmed.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): The nerve power
Vitamin B1 forms the protective layer of all nerve cells and strengthens the transmission of nerve stimuli. Most importantly, it breaks down blood sugar (glucose), the only energy food that our brain can use. Vitamin B1 therefore ensures mental acuity.
This vitamin is contained in all wholemeal products, nuts, seeds, vegetables, potatoes and legumes.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): The energy source
Vitamin B2 is important in the formation of the hormone adrenaline and in the production of cell energy. Only the thyroid hormone thyroxine is as important as vitamin B2 in driving vitality.
Food sources of vitamin B2 include green leafy vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and whole grain products. Because vitamin B2 is photosensitive, milk that is stored in transparent glass bottles loses its vitamin B2.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): The lucky charm
Niacin is the most important helper in oxygen transport and energy production, and acts like a hormone in the production of happiness hormones. Vitamin B3 is important for fat and protein metabolism and in maintaining mood balance.
Food sources of vitamin B3 include lean meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, wheat germ, nuts and brewer's yeast.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): The immune system stimulant
Vitamin B5 is important for intellectual acuity, because it makes us mentally fresh and fit. It helps in the production of anti-stress hormones and in preventing inflammation. Pantothenic acid protects skin and promotes skin tanning, and slows hair from turning grey.
Food sources of vitamin B5 include innards, legumes, whole grain products, egg yolk, green vegetables, dairy products and royal jelly.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin): The protein factory
Vitamin B6 is important for the formation of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. It helps in the formation of blood, the stabilization of the immune system, the formation of gastric acid and in water balance.
Lean meat, fish, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados, bananas and legumes are particularly rich in vitamin B6.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): The blood cure
Vitamin B12 is essential for blood formation, cell growth and cell division. A deficiency of vitamin B12 shows up as fatigue, nervousness, inflammation, muscle weakness and anemia.
Food sources of vitamin B12 include animal products such as meat, innards, fish, eggs, dairy products and brewer's yeast. Important for vegetarians: Organic yogurt and sauerkraut are also good sources of vitamin B12.
Biotin: The beauty vitamin
Biotin, also called vitamin H, is indispensable to healthy skin, hair and fingernails. It brings sulfur into the skin and hair, which ensures their suppleness, shine and fullness. Biotin also produces firm, smooth fingernails.
A lack of biotin shows up as oily or dry skin, dry and dull hair, brittle nails, fatigue and muscle pain.
It is found mainly in oranges, egg yolks, tomatoes, soy and nuts.
Vitamin C: The queen of vitamins
Vitamin C has been shown to have a life-prolonging effect. It protects our body from the destructive effects of radiation, pollution, smoking and infectious diseases by binding toxic substances called free radicals and by stimulating the immune system. Vitamin C significantly reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis and heart attacks. It is necessary to build connective tissue and helps to build collagen, the substance that keeps the skin firm. Veins and vessels are sealed by vitamin C and maintain stability.
In addition, vitamin C can remove already deposited fat from the vascular wall and increase the production of good HDL cholesterol. Smokers in particular suffer from vitamin C deficiency and require vitamin C supplements because their deficiency can no longer be compensated for by food.
Citrus fruits and raw vegetables contain a lot of vitamin C, but only when fresh. Products stored for longer periods of time contain only a fraction of their original vitamin C quantity.
Folic acid: The stress vitamin
Folic acid serves as a switch for the development of so-called neurotransmitters - stimulus signals - which transmit sensations, feelings and nerve signals all over the body. In addition, folic acid prevents the dangerous deposition of fat on the vascular walls and thus prevents heart attacks and strokes.
Folic acid is also important for the production of gastric acid, gastrointestinal activity, liver function and blood formation. It splits the dangerous substance homocysteine, which is responsible for arteriosclerosis, into harmless protein building blocks. It is estimated that half of all heart attacks could be avoided if we had enough folic acid in our blood.
Foods rich in folic acid include green leafy vegetables, liver, mushrooms, dairy products and soybeans. Folic acid is very sensitive to light and heat; therefore, foods containing folic acid should be eaten as raw as possible or prepared very gently.
Vitamin D (Calciferol): The bone police
Vitamin D is irreplaceable for healthy bones and teeth, because it is only through its presence that the bone-forming cells can build up the bone structure. As an equally important task, vitamin D stimulates the body's genes to produce duplicates for cell renewal, after which vital proteins are produced in the cells. Only in this way can a body's metabolism run at full speed.
The body is able to produce vitamin D itself from sunlight. By spending 30 minutes outdoors, the body can produce its daily requirement of vitamin D. Yet as we spend less and less time outdoors, we become more dependent on foods that contain vitamin D or vitamin D supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include cod liver oil, sea fish, liver, egg yolk, dairy products, avocados and mushrooms.
Vitamin E: The protective shield
Sufficient vitamin E protects the cells and all important body substances from toxic substances called free radicals. It takes six vitamin E molecules to neutralize one dangerous HDL cholesterol, which prevents the cholesterol from binding to vessel walls. Vitamin E is also important in preventing cancer and in preserving cellular youth. It keeps the reproductive organs functional and provides muscle strength and endurance.
Vitamin E belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins and is mainly found in cold-pressed vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, whole grain products, egg yolk and leafy vegetables.
Vitamin K: The wound healer
Vitamin K's main task is to clot blood. It also plays an important role in bone structure by regulating the absorbtion of calcium phosphate into the bone. The vitamin is of great importance to children and preventing bone injuries, and a sufficiently high level of vitamin K ensures vitality into old age.
A lack of vitamin K shows up as poor wound healing, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, easy bruising and menstrual pain.
Foods high in vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, cabbage, oat flakes, egg yolk, dairy products, tomatoes and liver.