Did you know? Eleven fascinating facts about vitamins
1. Boiling causes food to lose more vitamins than steaming
Getting the desired dose of vitamins from your food requires a gentle cooking technique. Water, temperature and time play an important role here. Many vitamins are water-soluble, for instance. When they're boiled the important nutrients remain in the water they are cooked in, which is usually discarded.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, and 15% of the nutrient is lost as a result of steaming, up to 28% in the microwave and up to 50% with boiling. The advantage of steaming is that it uses less water and takes less time to cook the food, and that more of the important vitamins are retained.
2. A lack of vitamin B12 can damage your nerves
If you aren't getting enough vitamin B12, you won't feel fit – either physically or mentally. This vitamin helps with blood formation and nerve cells. In the worst case scenario, a vitamin B12 deficiency can damage your nerves. Vitamin B12 is so important that our bodies keep emergency stores of it in our livers.
3. Coffee and tea inhibit iron absorption
Bad news for those who have trouble waking up in the morning: having a coffee with breakfast isn't the best idea. You should avoid caffeinated drinks 30 minutes before and after eating. Coffee, green tea and black tea naturally inhibit iron absorption because they bind to the iron ions in our bodies. The iron is filtered out and doesn't reach the blood at all. Generally speaking, a healthy diet helps to prevent iron deficiency.
4. Vitamins are named according to the order in which they were discovered
Vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C – where do the capital letters in their names come from? It's very simple: The first vitamin, retinol, was discovered in 1913 and assigned the letter A. At some point the naming system was refined a bit and subgroups and numbers followed. So in the B group, for example, you have vitamins B1, B2, etc. Vitamins that weren't discovered until later weren't assigned any letters or numbers. So folic acid for example doesn't follow the same naming convention even though it is a vitamin.
5. We barely need to ingest any vitamin D – our bodies produce it
We need enough sunlight in order for this to happen. As a result, many people suffer from a lack of vitamin D in winter. This makes us feel sluggish and tired. The fact is that our bodies need at least 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight every day in order to produce enough vitamin D.
6. Vitamin C can reduce the duration of flu
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins, and for good reason: if we get enough of it, it strengthens our immune system. And we're less susceptible to flu. If we do still catch flu, vitamin C helps us get over it quicker. We also feel fitter and more alert. Tip: Take a bite of red pepper whenever possible. 100 grams of it contains 150 milligrams of vitamin C which covers your daily requirement.
7. The more vitamins the better?
This is a fallacy. Ingesting too many vitamins can damage your health. It's particularly important to be careful with fat-soluble vitamins as they are stored in the body. Be especially cautious with vitamin E, as an overdose can have a significantly negative impact on your health. There are also nutrients that you can take at the same time that boost each other's efficacy. That's why a balanced and healthy diet is important, and you should take care with vitamin supplements. Always ask a doctor if you are in any doubt.
8. Omega-3 fatty acids help with inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids and are real miracle workers. They are anti-inflammatory and help with bone development. They also play an important role in learning. As our bodies cannot produce them on their own, we need to consume fatty acids in our diet. Cold water fish such as sardines or salmon, rapeseed oil and nuts are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is essential for our bodies and has many benefits for our health, performance and healing processes.
9. Magnesium helps against muscle cramps?
If the circulation in muscles isn't ideal or they are overtaxed, painful cramps can be a common problem. As magnesium affects the transfer of a signal from the nerves to muscles and their contraction, it is excellent for preventing cramps. Magnesium is stored in our bones and teeth and helps with their development. It is also important to drink enough before and after sport. Isotonic drinks are good in cases of extreme activity.
10. Vitamins are fat-soluble or water-soluble
Vitamins can be divided into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The first category is the more practical one as fat-soluble vitamins can be stored by our bodies. You don't have to keep remembering to get enough of them. But be careful: If you ingest too much of them you can overdose.
In contrast, our bodies can't store most water-soluble vitamins. They need to be ingested again and again. As the name indicates, the nutrients they contain are water-soluble and are filtered out by the kidneys. That means there is less risk of overdosing.
11. It's not just fruit and vegetables that contain vitamins
Anyone who would like to get enough vitamins can find them in animal products such as meat, eggs, milk, cheese and fish. But you can also get your supply of vitamins from non-animal sources such as spinach, whole grain products, lentils, currants or salad. As is often the case, a balanced diet provides the best nutrition.
Which foods contains these important vitamins and micronutrients?
Vitamin B1Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine and is good for the heart, brain and nerves. It helps the body to release the energy from fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Yeast, meat, cereals and peas are examples of vitamin B1 suppliers.
Vitamin B2Vitamin B2 is responsible for preserving the mucous membranes and helps the body to utilise fat, protein and carbohydrates. Various dairy products, whole grains and linseed contain this vitamin, which is also known as riboflavin.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)Niacin boosts the healing power of the skin, helps with tiredness and concentration problems and has a positive influence on the nervous system. Meat, fish, peanuts and dried porcini mushrooms are rich in niacin.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)Vitamin B5 is useful in stressful situations because it is involved in the formation of the anti-stress hormone cortisol. It also contributes to fitness, reduces fatigue and exhaustion and promotes the energy metabolism. The good news is that vitamin B5 is found in a wide variety of foods, including meat, fish, eggs, potatoes, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. Vitamin B5 deficiency is therefore very rare.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)Vitamin B6 is important for the production of red blood cells. It contributes, among other things, to normal metabolic functioning and to the supply of energy to the muscles during exercise. Vitamin B6 is found in many foods, but is particularly abundant in soya beans, brown rice, millet, fish and bananas.
Vitamin B7 (biotin)Vitamin B7 is also known as biotin, vitamin H or vitamin I. It is a building block for cells and hormones and has an influence on the preservation of skin, hair and nails. This vitamin with its many names can be found in numerous foodstuffs including oat flakes, whole grain products, brown rice, eggs, liver, whey, green beans and spinach.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)Folic acid is involved in cell formation, cell division and the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Folic acid is found in nuts, but also in fennel, endive, eggs, green vegetables, various types of fruit, and wholemeal and dairy products.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)Vitamin B12 is necessary for the entire nervous system, for blood formation in the bone marrow and for brain metabolism. It contributes to our mental wellbeing. Significant amounts of this vitamin are only found in meat, fish and cheese.
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