In this fact sheet: Cooking & storage of vitamin rich foods, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Folate, Pantothenic acid,, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Sulphur, Trace elements
Vegetarians can obtain all the vitamins they need from a balanced and varied diet. Vitamins are divided into two groups: the fat-soluble group A, D, E and K and the water-soluble group: vitamin C and the B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate, biotin and pantothenic acid. The fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body and so dietary sources are not needed every day. As Vitamin A, D and E are stored in the body excessive intakes accumulate and can be harmful.The body is less able to store water-soluble vitamins (with the exception of vitamin B12 which is stored in the liver) and so an intake is needed daily. In general the body readily excretes any excess of water soluble vitamins but very high intakes of Vitamin B6 and Niacin can have adverse effects.
Cooking & storage of vitamin rich foods
To get the most nutritional value out of the food you buy, eat perishable foods as fresh as possible and store grains, flours, pulses and dried fruit in air-tight containers a cool dark place. Heat, light and air all interact with the vitamins in foods with losses and damage occuring during cooking and storage. It is sensible to eat a good proportion of your fruit and veg fresh. When preparing vegetables keep chunks big, avoid shredding, grating and pureeing if you want to minimise oxidation. Water-soluble vitamins C and B's are more likely to be lost during cooking. Light cooking using a steamer is the best method for retaining vitamins and minerals. Fat soluble vitamin D and E are stable to heat but air can affect the vitamin E in oils, nuts and seeds if they are kept for too long. Eating local, seasonal produce will also help to ensure the freshness of your food.
Vitamin A (and beta-carotene)
Necessary for healthy skin and growth of bones, resistance to infection, mucous membranes and night vision Vitamin A (retinol) occurs preformed only in foods of animal origin and is found in butter, cheese, milk, yoghurt. Beta-carotene is found in plant foods and can be converted to retinol by the body. Carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, peppers, watercress, dried apricots, mango and margarine are sources of beta-carotene which also unlike Retinol has anti-oxidative properties like vitamins C and E. Vitamin A is stable to heat but not so when air is present and vice versa so for example when butter or margarine is used for frying the Vitamin A is destroyed but when butter or margarine is eaten with bread the vitamin A will be intact.
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