If you have read my previous post on vitamins and minerals and how important they are in our daily lives, you’ll know that vitamins perform crucial biological functions in the body and without a replenished source every day, we can fall foul to a huge number health problems. A few vitamins a day can solve many of these ailments and as a musician, you need to be on top form 100% of the time.
It’s time to find out exactly what each one does and where we can find them in our food sources.
Vitamins come under two categories, water soluble and fat soluble.
Water soluble vitamins
Water soluble vitamins require water to be absorbed into the body via the bloodstream and cannot be effectively stored in the body. As they pass through the bloodstream the body absorbs what it needs and any excess nutrients exit the body when you urinate. This means supplies of these types of vitamin need to be replenished on a daily basis.
There are 9 different types of water soluble vitamin. These include 8 types of vitamin B ie. biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamins B6 pyridoxine, B12 cyanocobamin and the more commonly known vitamin C – ie. ascorbic acid..
Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins your body needs to fight colds, infection and disease. A powerful antioxidant it helps boost the immune system, promotes cell development, tissue growth the healing of wounds. Vitamin C is also said to protect the body against degenerative diseases such as cancer, cataracts and those that affect the cardiovascular system.
Large concentrations of vitamin C can be found in fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, limes, papaya, strawberries, peaches, bananas and cantaloupe. Many vegetables are also packed with this powerful antioxidant such as tomatoes, broccoli, green and red peppers, raw lettuce, bean sprouts, cabbage, kale cauliflower, potatoes, beans, spinach and other leafy greens.
Vitamin B1 – Thiamin
Is used in a number of body functions and assists in the formation of blood and the metabolism of carbohydrates. It is required for the health of the nervous system is good for the brain and helps in the synthesis of acids in the digestion system.
Good sources of vitamin B1 are found in wheat germ, whole wheat, peas, beans, sunflower seeds, fish, peanuts, seafood, egg yolk and meat.
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
Used in the production of antibodies, red blood cells and the creation of vitamin B3. It helps the body to absorb vitamins B1, B6 and iron. It also helps the adrenal gland, growth and cell respiration.
Main sources of riboflavin are meat, dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and in nuts and eggs. Other good sources are green leafy vegetables, asparagus, artichokes, avocados, broccoli, brussels sprouts, watercress, currants, spinach, kelp, peas, beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cayenne, parsley, sage, legumes, whole grains and fish.
Vitamin B3 – Niacin
Helps the body break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates and use them for energy. Is vital for good circulation and healthy skin, cell respiration and the function of the nervous system.
The best sources of vitamin B3 are found in beetroot, brewer’s yeast, beef liver, beef kidney, pork, turkey, chicken, veal, fish, salmon, swordfish, tuna, sunflower seeds, peanuts and green leafy vegetables. The body can make it’s own niacin from an amino acid called tryptophan, so good sources of tryptophan such as eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt, can contribute in the creation of niacin in your system.
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid
Helps the adrenal gland secrete hormones that maintain healthy skin, muscles and nervous system. Helps create haemoglobin and supports the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, proteins and the release of energy.
Pantothenic Acid Molecule
Found in meat such as beef and pork, liver, kidney, poultry, fresh vegetables, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, soybeans, sunflower seeds, whole-grain breads and cereals, lobster, whole wheat, salmon, eggs, nuts, yeast, fish and legumes.
Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine
Used in processing fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Assists the immune system and new cell growth.
Good sources include brewer’s yeast, meat, poultry, eggs, carrots, fish – preferably saltwater such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and shrimp etc., liver, kidneys, peas, walnuts, soybeans, fortified breads and cereals, avocados, bananas, carrots, brown rice, bran, sunflower seeds, lentils, wheat germ, and whole-grain flour.
Vitamin B7 – Biotin
Helps with cell growth and the production of fatty acids. Helps the body break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates and use them for energy.
Found in brewer’s yeast , beef liver, kidney, eggs – especially egg yolk, nuts – almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybeans, other beans, black eye peas, oat bran, chicken breasts, salmon, spinach, mushrooms and cheese.
Vitamin B9 – Folate – Folic Acid
Essential for forming amino acids, energy production, cell growth and DNA synthesis.
Good sources of folic acid include spinach, dark leafy greens, asparagus, turnip, beetroot and mustard greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, beef liver, brewer’s yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, bulgur wheat, all types of beans, oysters, salmon, avocado, fruit and milk.
Vitamin B12 – Cyanocobamin
Used in the manufacture and maintenance of red blood cells. Promotes growth and energy. Stimulates the appetite and helps regulate mood, sleep, and the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbs.
Mainly in beef, pork, organ meats such as liver and kidney, shellfish, eggs, dairy products and fish.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and are absorbed by the body through the intestinal tract. Unlike water soluble vitamins, these can be stored in the liver and (apart from vitamin K) are generally excreted much more slowly over a period of time. This means that if you intake too many of them, particularly vitamins A and D, they can accumulate and cause toxic effects in the body.
The four types of fat soluble vitamins are A,D,E and K
Vitamin A – Retinol
Is a great antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, helps protect the body against disease, combats the effects of ageing and helps the development of skin, bone and teeth. Also vital in the maintenance of the eyes and assists with our night vision.
Good sources of Vitamin A include beef, chicken liver, eggs, and fish liver oils, and all dairy products including milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese.
Vitamin A can also be produced in the body by fat soluble nutrients called cartenoids such as beta carotene found in fruits and vegetables. Substantial amounts of beta carotene can be found in dark green leafy vegetables and deep yellow/orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and other winter squashes. Fruits like cantaloupe, apricots, peaches,and mangoes also contain beta carotene.
Promotes strong teeth and bones, assists the heart and nervous system, the immune system and thyroid function. It also helps regulate levels of phosphorus in the body and assists blood clotting.
Vitamin D is present in fatty fish like mackerel, kipper, sardines, salmon, tuna and most of all in cod liver oil. Liver, egg yolk and butter are also good sources. Dark leafy vegetables do provide quantities of vitamin D but in smaller amounts.
The body can also produce sufficient quantities of vitamin D through exposure to natural sunlight. However, this must be done through direct exposure to sunlight and not filtered through glass windows or car windscreens. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun hits the skin and cholesterol from your body combine to create vitamin D.
Is not only a powerful antioxidant in itself, but it also prevents other antioxidants in the body from oxidising, thus increasing their effectiveness. It helps prevent degenerative diseases such as heart disease, strokes, arthritis, senility, diabetes and cancer. It plays a huge part in the treatment of skin conditions and effectively combats the signs of ageing. Increases stamina and endurance, protects the lungs from pollutants and aids the production of red blood cells. Vitamin E is aslo known as the sex vitamin as it aids the production of sex hormones and boosts your sex drive.
Found in dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and other vegetables like carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, turnips, avocado, asparagus and yams. Beef, liver, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds and whole grains offer good supplies and oils such as olive, corn, cotton seed and soybean oils are rich in vitamin E. One of the most potent sources would be wheat germ.
Plays a huge part in the control of blood clotting in the body and also promotes bone formation and maintenance.
Plentiful supplies of vitamin K are found in spinach and celery. Greens, broccoli, kale, cabbage, asparagus, and dark green lettuce. Liver, bacon, cheese and green tea are also great sources of this vitamin.
After studying the rich array of foods that provide good sources of these vitamins to keep our bodies and immune systems in top condition, it becomes obvious that a few foods keep springing up time and time again.
Broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, celery, asparagus, squashes, kale, nuts of all types, sunflower seeds, legumes – beans of all types, whole grains, wheat germ, potatoes, oily fish and other types of seafood, meat, eggs and dairy products to mention a few, all play major parts in obtaining our daily vitamins for the welfare of our bodies. It also becomes obvious that a wide variety of fruit is also essential for our bodies to remain healthy.
Beef, pork, poultry and organ meats like liver are great sources of vitamins, minerals and proteins etc. but all types of red and white meat and have been clinically proven to contribute to the growth of cancerous tumours.
Try to limit the amount of meat you have in your diet, and
AVOID ALL TYPES OF HEAVILY PROCESSED MEAT
like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, burgers, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen prepared meals. Also avoid meat in tinned foods like ravioli and soups along with pizza meats etc.
Heavily processed meat is shown to be the most carcinogenic as it contains large amounts of sodium nitrate which massively increases the risk of developing many forms of cancer.
Dairy products also contain many valuable nutrients but they too have been proved to increase the risk of cancer over a prolonged period of time. Dairy products also contain a large fat content, so try to ensure you limit your dairy intake and eat low fat dairy products.
Do your best to avoid white flour and white sugar products like white bread, sweets, cakes and buns.
Now you know what’s good for you and where to get it, try and vary your eating habits to include some or all of the foods mentioned in the above paragraphs and over a period of time work on cutting the junk food out of your life and replacing it with the good stuff.
Oats, brown rice, beans, legumes, green and yellow vegetables, nuts, fish and small amounts of meat and dairy will get you off to a good start.
Eating these foods will help you stay healthier, look better, live longer and feel great.
There’s no doubt that keeping up with all this can be a time consuming nightmare, and finding the time to shop, prepare, cook and eat a good vitamin rich diet can be tricky.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can go a long way in helping you overcome these difficulties and ensure your body gets what it needs to keep you healthy and perform at your best. The problem is, most dietary supplements people take are not properly absorbed into the body and therefore often wasted. That’s money down the drain.
Check back in a few days to see my guide on the best supplements to take and how to ensure they do what they are supposed to and our bodies get what they need.