Micronutrients and their functions, as well as the best food sources

Vitamins are organic substances or groups of related substances found in many foods. They're essential  nutrients required in very small amounts to maintain good health.  Do you know the best food sources of vitamin C, thiamine, folic acid or magnesium? Do you eat five portions of vegetables and fruit per day?  Are you getting enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet to protect your bone health?  This pamphlet will guide you on the best food sources of vitamins and minerals to optimise your diet before you consider supplementation at an additional cost.

What are nutrients and micronutrients?
    •    It is the building blocks of whole foods and other biologically active constituents that are essential for the growth and development of our bodies and the maintenance of its functions.
    •    Each nutrient has functions and is needed in various quantities.  The quantities or nutritional requirements differ between groups of people, and between individuals.  These differences are related to an individual's age, sex, height, level of activity and health status.
    •    The classes of nutrients are macronutrients, micronutrients (vitamins snd minerals), non-nutritive substances and water. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients needed by the body in smaller quantities.

Vitamins, minerals, non-nutritive substances - Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day. These are organic compounds that cannot be synthesised by the body (with the exception
of a few such as Vitamin D and vitamin K). They are essential
in adequate amounts for the control of metabolic processes, including the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and protein, into energy.

    •    Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, K)
    •    Water-soluble vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridox­ine, folate, cobalamin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin C)
    •    Non-nutritive substances (does not provide energy, but may have beneficial effects on your health) are the phytochemicals that also provide the colour, taste and aroma to fruits and vegetables, starches and pulses.  More than 2000 plant pigments are considered phytochemicals and include flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins.

Tips

    •    Eat a variety of different foods from all the food groups.
    •    Choose fortified or enriched maize and cereal products.
    •    Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day every day! HERE, MORE IS BETTER!
    •    Choose at least one yellow-orange and one dark green vegetable daily.
    •    Buy vegetables in season, since they are more affordable.
    •    Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables.  Try a new vegetable and fruit each week.
    •    Always wash raw fruit and vegetables in clean I safe water.
    •    Eat the skins where possible.
    •    Commercially canned or frozen vegetables are also healthy and can be used as a substitute for fresh vegetables.
    •    Do not leave cut vegetables and fruit in water long before cooking.
    •    Dairy products and milk are very important for calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D intake.