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What do vitamins do?

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Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet can be tough. Most of us know vitamin C will help fight a cold or that sunlight produces vitamin D in the body - but often that's the extent of our education...

Telling people to eat a balanced diet is all very well, but identifying our nutritional needs and eating appropriately is a lot harder. Next time you're feeling a little less than lovely try eating for your ailment:


After a night on the town

Most of us are guilty of drinking too much on the weekend and spending Saturday and Sunday feeling sorry for ourselves on the sofa. Repair rather than despair by replenishing vitamin and mineral stores destroyed by one too many tipples.


Potassium is one of the main victims of a boozy binge but can easily be topped up by eating dairy, fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken or beef. Try potassium-packed get up & go breakfast muffins or easy sweet & sour chicken when you need a boost.

Alcohol also destroys vitamin B1, which may affect concentration, appetite and energy. Egg yolks are a good source of B1 so start the day with spinach & smoked salmon egg muffins to get yourself back on track.

Spinach & smoked salmon egg muffins

Help your immune system

Give your immune system a boost with vitamin C, which can help prevent illness as well as giving your body the strength to fight colds and flu. Citrus fruits are a well-known source but you can also top up with berries, tomatoes and green vegetables. Try creamy prawn & spring vegetable pot and health-packed cranberry & raspberry smoothies next time your defences are down.

Zinc is also a powerful support to your immune system, and its absorption into the body is aided by vitamin C. Combine the two in spaghetti with crab, cherry tomatoes & basil. Other great sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, brown rice and wholegrains.


For great hair and skin

If your locks look limp and you skin lacks lustre then you could be deficient in vitamins B2 and B6. Many cereals are fortified with vitamin B2 (or sometimes referred to as riboflavin), which is vital for growth, healthy skin, hair and nails. Other good sources include milk, cheese, fish and veg.

Vitamin B6 is found in foods such as fish, bananas, chicken, pork and wholegrains. Get a good dose of both B vitamins with Mediterranean chicken with roasted vegetables and haddock & spinach cheese melt.
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Chicken & orange salad

Get an energy boost

Lethargy is often a sign that your body is lacking essential nutrients and after just a few days of eating well many will see a rise in energy levels. Being deficient in Folic Acid, Iron, B vitamins or vitamin C can all produce symptoms of tiredness. Focus on getting these key nutrients into your system with energy-boosting recipes like this chicken & orange salad, which also counts as four of your five-a-day.

Find out more about what vitamins and minerals do for you body at NHS Choices.

If you are concerned you may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals in your daily diet consult your GP or nutritionist.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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