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Water-Soluble Vitamins


Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B vitamins) are carried in the bloodstream. The body uses the amount it needs and then gets rid of the extra in the urine. They aren't stored, so you need to consume water soluble vitamins regularly to stay healthy. Water-soluble vitamins can be destroyed more easily than fat-soluble vitamins in food preparation, cooking and storing.


Vitamin B1: Thiamin


Thiamin is involved in many steps of the process of converting carbohydrate into a usable form of energy - glucose. The hull, or outer layer, of grains is high in thiamin. Since 1942, the Enrichment Act requires that thiamin be added to flour and cereals to compensate for the loss of thiamin that occurs when grain is milled and processed.
Good food sources: Whole grains, legumes (beans and peas) and seeds, pork, bread made with enriched white flour, and fortified cereals.


Vitamin B2: Riboflavin


Riboflavin is needed to release the body's stored energy for use and is involved in many steps in the breakdown of carbohydrate, protein and fat. It is involved with the functioning of vitamins B6 and niacin. Ultraviolet light, such as sunlight, destroys riboflavin, which is the reason milk is sold in plastic containers that are opaque or waxed paper containers.
Good food sources: Dairy products, eggs, liver, some seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, baked goods made with enriched flour, and some green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli and spinach).


Vitamin B3: Niacin


Niacin is involved in many steps in the breakdown of carbohydrate, protein and fat. It is also important in the health of skin, and the digestive and nervous systems.
Good food sources: Foods rich in protein, such as fish, meat, poultry and peanut butter, breads made with enriched flour, and fortified cereals.


Vitamin B5: Pantothenic Acid


Pantothenic acid is involved in the breakdown of carbohydrate, protein and fat. It plays a role in making fatty acids, cholesterol, and some hormones. Milling destroys a lot of pantothenic acid in grains.
Good food sources: Whole grains, legumes, fish, meat, poultry, and some fruits and vegetables.


Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine


Pyridoxine is involved in the breakdown of protein and building non-essential proteins in the body. It is necessary to produce red blood cells and in the proper functioning of nerve tissue. Processing of foods, heating and exposure to ultraviolet light reduces the content of pyridoxine in foods.
Good food sources: Chicken, fish, pork, whole grains and legumes.


Folate/Folic Acid


Folate is the form of the vitamin found in foods; folic acid is the synthetic form used in supplements and fortified foods. Folic acid is essential for the creation of new cells (DNA and RNA). It is important in the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells, and during pregnancy for the growth of the fetus. It has been determined that pregnant women who don't consume enough folate, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, increase their risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (spina bifida). Therefore, as of 1998 the FDA requires that all grain products (breads, cereals and pasta) be fortified with 140mcg folic acid per kilogram of grain with the goal of increasing the folic acid intake of Americans.
Good food sources: Leafy green vegetables are the richest source by far. Legumes, oranges, whole grains, wheat germs and fortified foods noted above.


Vitamin B12: Cobalamin


Vitamin B12, which is the more commonly used name, is needed along with folic acid to make red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is involved in building and maintaining the covering that protects nerve fibers. A deficiency of B12 can cause a form of anemia, called pernicious anemia. B12 is fairly stable in foods.
Nearly a third of people over 50 years old can no longer produce enough "intrinsic factor" - a substance in the stomach lining - to adequately absorb B12. They need to get B12 from a supplement or from cereal that is fortified with B12.
Good food sources: Found exclusively in foods of animal origin - meats, dairy products and eggs. It is not found in plant foods, and sufficient intake may be a problem for strict vegetarians.


Vitamin C


Vitamin C is important in forming the protein collagen, which is part of the body's connective tissue. Collagen helps heal cut and wounds and keeps you from bruising by maintaining firm blood vessels. Vitamin C protects you from infection by keeping the immune system healthy. It also increases the absorption of iron from foods of plant sources (the non-heme form of iron). People who smoke have an increased need for vitamin C.
Good food sources: Citrus fruits, oranges and grapefruits. Broccoli, green pepper and strawberries.




Biotin is important in the breakdown of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Biotin is produced by the natural bacteria in the intestine, so getting enough biotin is rarely a problem.
Good food sources: Egg yolk, liver, yeast and cereals.



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