Health Information from A-Z
Learn all about the functions of vitamins and minerals.
Biotin (vitamin H) belongs to the group of B vitamins. It gets its nickname vitamin H because of its positive effects on skin and hair, which were first discovered during research into the vitamin. Biotin is present in many foods, but usually only in small amounts. Yeast, liver, eggs, wholemeal products and pulses are particularly rich in biotin.
The group of B vitamins includes vitamin B₁ (thiamine), vitamin B₂ (riboflavin), niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B₆, vitamin B₁₂ (cobalamin), folic acid and biotin. All B vitamins are water-soluble. B vitamins are mainly found in whole grain products, animal-based food, milk and milk products.
Calcium is one of the bulk elements. It is the most abundant mineral in the human body. 99% of the calcium found in the body is found in the bones and teeth. There, it helps in mineralisation. Calcium aids the blood clotting, muscles and nerves, and digestive enzyme. Calcium is mainly contained in milk and dairy products. Green leafy vegetables, however, are also rich in calcium. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.
Iron is an essential trace element, and an important component of the red blood pigment haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to the body cells and carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs. Vitamin C aids the iron absorption. Meat, green leafy vegetables, grains and nuts are good sources of iron.
Folic acid is part of the group of B vitamins. The vitamin plays a role in cell division and thus an important role in all the growth processes of the human body. Good sources of folic acid are leafy vegetables, salads, tomatoes, eggs and liver. Folic acid is especially indispensable for women who want to have children, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Copper is an essential trace element. Its most important function is the transport of iron in the body. In addition, copper is important for the connective tissue, energy balance and production of the pigment melanin, which influences the colour of skin and hair. Copper is mainly found in liver, nuts, grains, and cocoa.
Magnesium is a bulk element that is present in around 300 enzymes in the body and is therefore indispensable for protein synthesis. Magnesium plays an important role in energy metabolism. Magnesium, like calcium, is also contained in the bones. Magnesium is mainly found in plant-based food products. Whole grain products, vegetables and nuts are particularly good sources of magnesium.
Manganese is one of the essential trace minerals and is as part of the enzymes especially important for metabolism. Sources: pulses, nuts, rolled oats, spinach, kale and blueberries.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B₅) is one of the water-soluble B-complex vitamins and supports human health in a multitude of ways.
The following groups of people may have higher pantothenic acid requirements: Pregnant and breastfeeding women and elderly people. Sources: Offal, fish, poultry, whole grains, yoghurt and vegetables.
Selenium is an essential trace element present in the cells, and protects them from oxidative stress. Selenium is also involved in the metabolism of the thyroid gland and supports the immune system. Fish, meat and eggs are good sources of selenium.
Vitamin C protects the cells from oxidative stress. It also supports the immune, aids in the formation of collagen for cartilage and bone tissue formation, and in energy metabolism. All citrus fruits, especially grapefruit and oranges, are the best sources of vitamin C. However, bell peppers and broccoli contain even more vitamin C.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required for the bones. It ensures that the bone building block calcium is absorbed from food and used within the body. Calcium is poorly absorbed without vitamin D. The body can produce vitamin D by itself when exposed to sunlight. This distinguishes it from all other vitamins, which the body cannot produce itself. In addition, vitamin D is mainly absorbed through animal products, such as fatty sea fish. An increased intake is particularly useful in the winter months, because the body is less exposed to sunlight during this time of year.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects the cells from oxidative stress. The vitamin performs its most important function in the cell membranes. It is mainly contained in vegetable-based food: vegetable oils, cold-pressed edible oils, nuts and seeds.
Zinc is an essential trace element, which is involved in many enzymatic reactions in the human body. Zinc is needed for cell division. Zinc protects cells from oxidative stress and supports the immune system. Meat, hard cheese, nuts and wholemeal products are good sources of zinc.