Vitamin is the name for several unrelated nutrients that the body cannot synthesize either at all, or in sufficient quantities. The one thing they have in common is that only small quantities are needed in the diet. The main vegetarian sources are listed below:
Vitamin A (or as beta carotene in plant foods): For healthy skin, growth of bones, resistance to infection and night vision. Red, orange or yellow vegetables like carrots and tomatoes, leafy green vegetables and fruits like apricots and peaches. It is added to most margarines.
B Vitamins: This group of vitamins includes B1 , B2 , B3, B6, B12, folate, pantothenic acid and biotin.
All the B vitamins except B12 occur in yeasts and whole cereals (especially wheat germ), nuts & seeds, pulses and green vegetables.
Vitamin B12 is the only one that may cause some difficulty as it is not present in plant foods. Only very tiny amounts of B12 are needed and vegetarians usually get this from dairy produce and free range eggs. It is sensible for vegans and vegetarians who consume few animal foods to have some B12 fortified foods incorporated into their diet. B12 can easily be found added to yeast extracts, soya milks, veggie burgers and some breakfast cereals.
Vitamin C: For healthy skin, bones, teeth, gums, resistance to infection and wound healing. Fresh fruit, salad vegetables, all leafy green vegetables and potatoes are a good source.
Vitamin D: This is vitamin is not found in plant foods but humans can make their own when skin is exposed to sunlight. It is also added to most margarines and is present in milk, cheese and butter. These sources are usually adequate for healthy adults. If you are catering for the very young, the very old or for anyone confined indoors it would be wise to suggest they take a vitamin D supplement especially if they consume very few dairy products.
Vitamin E: This is a powerful anti-oxidant. Contained in vegetable oil, wholegrain cereals, eggs.
Vitamin K: Fresh vegetables, cereals and bacterial synthesis in the intestine.
Minerals perform a variety of jobs in the body. Details of the some of the most important minerals are listed below:
Calcium: Important for healthy bones and teeth. Found in dairy produce, leafy green vegetables, bread, tap water in hard water areas, nuts and seeds (especially sesame seeds), dried fruits, cheese. Vitamin D helps calcium to be absorbed.
Iron: Needed for red blood cells. Found in leafy green vegetables, wholemeal bread, molasses, eggs, dried fruits (especially apricots and figs), lentils and pulses. Vegetable sources of iron are not as easily absorbed as animal sources, but a good intake of vitamin C will enhance absorption.
Zinc: Plays a major role in many enzyme reactions and the immune system. Found in green vegetables, cheese, sesame and pumpkin seeds, lentils and wholegrain cereals.