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Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are involved in many of the metabolic processes in the body and in doing so, contribute to physical and mental wellness.

The stress and strain of modern living make it difficult to follow a balanced diet with all the right vitamins and minerals, let alone in the right quantities. Certain lifestyle choices, stress, excessive exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking and even taking certain medication, all impact on our nutrient levels.

The body cannot produce most vitamins, minerals and trace elements, but is dependent on a regular supply in the diet. An adequate supply of these vital substances is an important condition for well-being and health.

 

Beta-carotene

 

Your body needs beta-carotene to make vitamin A. It also has antioxidant properties.
 

Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

No specific South African NRVs are assigned for beta-carotene

Food sources

  • Yellow, red and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Dark green vegetables

Problems associated with deficiency

  • None identified

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • A source of vitamin A
  • Acts as an antioxidant
     

 

Biotin

Coenzyme R

Biotin helps your body produce energy from carbohydrate, proteins, and fats.  


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

30 mcg

Food sources

  • Egg yolk
  • Corn
  • Soybeans
  • Yeast
  • Liver
  • Peanut butter

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Dermatitis
  • Muscle pain

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Necessary for formation of fatty acids
  • Necessary for production of energy from glucose
  • Required for metabolism of several amino acids
  • Helps your body use B vitamins such as niacin

Ca

Calcium

 

Calcium is vital for strong, healthy bones. It also helps with nerve and muscle functions.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

1 300 mg

Food sources

  • Milk & cheese
  • Sardines
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Dried beans
  • Nuts

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Can lead to osteoporosis in adults
  • Affects bone growth and development in children
  • Rickets

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Involved in converting carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy
  • Necessary for the formation of nerve-regulating substances and hormones
  • Helps in normal growth and development
  • Helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones
  • Helps to reduce risk of osteoporosis
  • Aids in clotting of blood
  • Helps with normal muscle contraction and nerve functions
  • Regulates heartbeat
  • May help reduce the risk of colon cancer
  • May help prevent and treat hypertensive disorders associated with pregnancy

For more information on calcium supplementation, visit caltrate.co.za

 

Cr

Chromium

 

Chromium helps your body process fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Supports healthy glucose metabolism.
 

Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

35 mcg

Food sources

  • Whole grains
  • Prunes
  • Nuts
  • Potato
  • Seafood

Problems associated with deficiency

  • May affect glucose metabolism and may increase blood sugar levels

Functions/Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Necessary for normal carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism
     

Cu

Copper

 

Along with iron, copper is a vital part of forming healthy red blood cells.  Helps to produce and repair some tissues (connective tissues).


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

0.9 mg

Food sources

  • Organ meats
  • Seafood
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Dried peas and beans

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Diminished glucose tolerance
  • Increased blood cholesterol
  • Heartbeat irregularities
  • Anaemia
  • Risk of osteoporosis in children whose bones are still growing

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Part of proteins and enzymes involved in brain and red blood cell function
  • Involved in iron metabolism, bone health and protein synthesis
  • Plays a role in skin, hair and eye pigmentation

 

Folate

Folic acid

Folate, also known as folic acid (synthetic form of folate), is necessary for the formation and maintenance of new cells, and helps reduce the risk of some birth defects.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

400 mcg

Pregnancy upper limit

14-18 years: 800 mcg

19-50 years: 1,000 mcg

Food sources

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Organ meats

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Impaired cell division and protein synthesis, which affects rapidly growing tissues
  • Anaemia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Irritability

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Adequate amounts can help reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine
  • Necessary for amino acid metabolism and the formation of DNA
  • Necessary for normal growth and development
  • Necessary for red blood cell formation
     

I

Iodine

 

Iodine is very important for the healthy functioning of your thyroid, which controls hormones related to growth and metabolism.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

150 mcg

Food sources

  • Iodized table salt
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Dairy products

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Enlarged thyroid gland resulting in a goitre
  • Insufficient production of thyroid hormones
  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes
  • Increase in blood fats
  • Delayed reflex reactions
  • Reduced mental functioning
  • Severe mental retardation of the foetus

Functions/Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Essential for the formation of the thyroid hormone thyroxin, which plays an important role in metabolism and growth
  • Essential for reproduction
  • Involved in conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A
  • Involved in synthesis of protein and cholesterol and in the absorption of carbohydrates

Fe

Iron

 

Iron is an important part of proteins throughout your body, and is especially vital in producing haemoglobin – a protein that transports oxygen in your blood.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

18 mg

Food sources

  • Poultry
  • Red meat
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Peas

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Low blood levels of iron have been linked to cardiac arrhythmias

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Essential part of haemoglobin
  • Part of certain essential metabolic enzymes
  • Vitamin C enhances iron absorption

 

Lutein

 

Lutein is believed to play an important role in maintaining healthy eyes and eyesight.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

Although no NRV is established for lutein, it is estimated that 3-6 mg is an optimum intake (based on an optimal diet containing 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables)

Food sources

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens
  • Broccoli
  • Egg yolk

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Lutein (and zeaxanthin) are the dominant carotenoids present in the macular region of the retina and are linked to normal function of the retina, which is responsible for sharp and detailed vision
  • Helps support healthy eyesight
  • Helps filter out the sun's harmful rays

Mg

Magnesium

 

Magnesium helps in the development and maintenance of bones. Helps in tissue formation and in maintaining muscle function.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

420 mg

Food sources

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Green leafy vegetables

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Nausea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Twitching
  • Irritability

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Maintains proper levels of calcium and potassium
  • Critical component of many vital enzyme reactions
  • Regulates heartbeat, muscle contractions and nerve transmissions
  • Helps maintain strong bones

Mn

Manganese

 

Helps the body to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Helps in the development and maintenance of bones.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

2.3 mg

Food sources

  • Shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Coffee and tea

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Impaired carbohydrate and fat metabolism
  • Poor growth
  • Abnormal formation of bone

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Necessary for normal growth and development, reproduction and cell function
  • Involved in metabolism of carbohydrates

Mo

Molybdenum

 

Molybdenum is involved in protein metabolism. Helps in the release of iron from its stores in the liver.   


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

45 mcg

Food sources

  • Milk
  • Legumes
  • Grains and cereals

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Molybdenum deficiencies do not normally occur

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Important for normal cell function
  • Important for maintaining normal growth
  • Component of enzymes needed in metabolism

 

Niacin

Niacinamide

Niacin helps your body convert food to energy and helps normal growth and development.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

16 mg

Food sources

  • Egg yolk
  • Meats
  • Dairy products

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Diarrhoea
  • Mouth sores
  • Long-term deficiency can ultimately lead to pellagra, dermatitis, gastrointestinal disorders and central nervous symptoms

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Present in all cells in the body and helps convert food into energy
  • Involved in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Aids in nervous system function

 

Pantothenic acid

Pantothenate

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is required for your body to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

5 mg

Food sources

  • Egg yolk
  • Organ meats
  • Whole-grain cereals

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • “Burning feet syndrome” (feelings of burning or aching in the feet)
  • Deficiencies are rare

Functions/Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Involved in converting carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy
  • Necessary for the formation of nerve-regulating substances and hormones
  • Helps in tissue formation

P

Phosphorus

 

Helps in the development and maintenance of bones and teeth. Helps in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

1 250 mg

Food sources

  • High-protein foods
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy products

Functions/Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Helps build and maintain healthy teeth and bones
  • Essential in muscle and nerve functions and in the release of energy
  • Enhances use of other nutrients
  • Necessary in formation of DNA and cell membranes
  • Maintains the blood chemistry. It helps in the transport of fats and some nutrients in the bloodstream

K

Potassium

 

Potassium is an electrolyte that plays a crucial role in energy production in your body.

Adequate Intake per Day

No specific South African NRVs are assigned for Potassium

Food sources

  • Fruits and vegetables

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Although deficiency is rare, it can lead to weakness, fatigue and abnormal heart contractions if it occurs

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • It is part of a number of metabolic actions, especially those that involve the release of energy
  • Needed for muscle growth
  • Regulates heartbeat and muscle contraction
  • Helps regulate blood pressure
     

Se

Selenium

 

Selenium is an antioxidant which plays an important role in metabolism and the immune system.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

55 mcg

Food sources

  • Seafood
  • Meats
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Works with vitamin E to help fight cell damage from oxidation
  • Needed for proper immune system response
  • Plays a role in many antioxidative enzymes
  • Helps prevent Keshan disease
  • Necessary for normal growth and development
  • Necessary for use of iodine in metabolism of thyroid hormones

A

Vitamin A

Retinol

Vitamin A bolsters your body’s immunity, and is important for maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and gums.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

2997 IU

Food sources

  • Liver
  • Fish
  • Egg yolk
  • Fortified dairy products

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Night blindness
  • Impaired vision
  • Reduced growth in children
  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Lowered resistance to infection


Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Helps form and maintain healthy skin, eyes, teeth, gums, hair, mucous membranes and glands
  • Necessary for night and colour vision
  • Important for resisting infectious diseases
  • Important for normal growth in children
  • Involved in fat metabolism
     

 

B1

Vitamin B1

Thiamine

Vitamin B1 is important in helping your body convert food to energy. It also keeps your nervous system and heart healthy.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

1.2 mg

Food sources

  • Whole grains
  • Enriched cereals and breads
  • Meats
  • Beans
  • Nuts

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Early symptoms include headache, fatigue, exhaustion, depression, nausea and numbness
  • Can lead to beri-beri, muscle wasting, heart failure and nervous system disease

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Helps the body to metabolise carbohydrate, fats and proteins
  • Needed for healthy function of the nervous system and muscles, including the heart


 

B12

Vitamin B12

Cyanocobalamin

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in your brain, nervous system and in blood formation.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

2.4 mcg

Food sources

  • Eggs
  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy products

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Anaemia
  • Severe neurological disease
  • Soreness of the tongue
  • Weakness

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Helps form red blood cells
  • Needed to reduce the risk of certain forms of anaemia
  • Aids in the function of body cells, especially nerve, brain and red blood cells

B2

Vitamin B2

Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 helps the body metabolise carbohydrates, fats, protein and other vitamins. It also aids in tissue formation.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

1.3 mg

Food sources

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Organ meats
  • Whole grains

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Oral lesions, cracks and sores
  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Anaemia

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Aids in energy utilization from food
  • Needed for vision
  • Helps in red blood cell formation and nervous system functioning
  • Essential for the metabolism of vitamin B6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin K1

B6

Vitamin B6

Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 is important for your immune and nervous systems and for tissue formation.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

1.7 mg

Food sources

  • Organ meats
  • Bananas
  • Legumes
  • Egg yolk
  • Whole grains

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Dermatitis
  • Oral lesions
  • Anaemia
  • Depression
  • Convulsions


Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Important in protein and amino acid metabolism
  • Required for healthy function of immune system and nervous system
  • Necessary for red blood cell formation
  • Necessary for hormone creation

C

Vitamin C

L-ascorbic acid

Vitamin C is critical for brain function and your immune system. It is also required to make collagen, which is important for your skin, blood vessels, bones and ligaments.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

100 mg

Food sources

  • Citrus foods
  • Green vegetables
  • Potatoes

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Easy bruising, skin haemorrhages and bone bruises
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow healing
  • In severe cases, scurvy, loosening of teeth and inflamed and bleeding gums

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Helps bind cells
  • Strengthens blood vessel walls
  • Essential for healthy teeth, gums and bones
  • Important in the formation of collagen, which supports body structures such as skin, bones and tendons
  • Helps the body absorb iron from supplements and vegetables
  • Important for immune function
  • Needed for the formation of some neurotransmitters
  • Necessary for healing wounds
     

D

Vitamin D

 

Getting enough vitamin D is important for bone health at all ages, and also helps your body to absorb calcium.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

600 IU

Food sources

  • Egg yolk
  • Liver
  • Fatty fish
  • Fortified dairy products

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Rickets
  • Osteomalacia
  • Accelerated osteoporosis

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Helps prevent and cure rickets in children
  • Necessary for strong bones and normal growth in children
  • Helps the body use calcium and phosphorus
  • Required for calcium absorption
  • May help maintain healthy bones

E

Vitamin E

 

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant. It also helps your immune system and other aspects of your metabolism.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

22.35 IU

Food sources

  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn
  • Soya bean
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole-grain cereals

Problems associated with deficiency

  • Neurological abnormalities
  • Anaemia

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Necessary for the formation of normal red blood cells, muscle and tissue
  • Necessary for immune function
  • Protects fat in tissues from oxidation
  • Helps protect cells from free radical damage
     

Zn

Zinc

 

Zinc is a vital component of brain function, the immune system, growth and reproduction.


Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)

11 mg

Food sources

  • Seafood
  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes

Potential benefits at recommended levels

  • Zinc may be an important factor in helping to maintain a healthy immune system
  • Critical component of enzymes involved in most major metabolic pathways
  • Part of several vital hormones including insulin
  • Involved in ability to taste
  • Aids in wound repair
  • Involved in protein metabolism
  • Important for night vision