Water soluble vitamins
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Helps release energy from carbohydrate and is also importantant for the nervous system and heart.
RNI (Reference nutrient intake) Adults (men) 1mg/day (women) 0.8mg/day
Sources - Wholegrains, meat (especially pork) fortified cereals, milk, nuts.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Helps release energy from food. Needed for the structure and function of our skin and body tissue linings.
RNI - Adults (men) 1.3mg/day (women) 0.8mg/day
Sources - Milk, dairy foods (cheese, yogurt) eggs, fortified cereals, rice, liver, pulses (lentils, peas, beans) green vegetables, mushrooms.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Helps release energy from food. Needed for the structure and function of our skin and body tissue linings. Also keeps our digestive and nervous systems healthy.
RNI - Adults (men) 17mg/day (women) 13mg/day
Sources - Meat, bread, flours (wheat and maize) fortified cereals, milk, dairy foods (cheese, yogurt) eggs, yeast.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Helps release energy from protein. Helps to form haemoglobin in our blood (carries oxygen around our bodies)
RNI - Adults (men) 1.4mg/day (women) 1.2mg/day
Sources - Poultry, white fish, milk, dairy foods (cheese, yogurt) wholegrains, peanuts, soya beans.
Needed to produce red blood cells. Keeps our nervous systems healthy and helps release energy from food.
RNI - Adults (men) 1.5µg/day (women) 1.5µg/day
Sources - Meat, fish, milk, dairy foods (cheese, yogurt) eggs, yeast extract, fortified breakfast cereals.
An antioxidant. Needed to keep our body tissues healthy (skin, gums). Helps in wound healing.
It also helps our bodies absorb iron from vegetable and other non-meat sources.
RNI - Adults (men) 40mg/day (women) 40mg/day
Sources - Fruits (especially citrus), peppers, tomatoes, green vegetables, potatoes.
Needed to form healthy red blood cells and important for our nervous systems.
*Folic acid is especially important for the development of the nervous system in unborn babies.
RNI - Adults 0.2mg/day (200µg)
*If you are thinking about having a baby or are pregnant, a doubling of Folic acid to 0.4mg/day (400µg) is recommended until the 12th week of pregnancy. This will help prevent neural tube birth defects, such as (spina bifida)
Sources - Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach), wholegrain foods, fortified cereals, nuts, peas, bananas, oranges.
Unlike fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins do not get stored in our bodies, which is why it’s important to try to eat a variety of these foods every day to ensure we get enough of the vitamins we need.
Any extra we take in and don’t use, as many of us do with supplements, will be disposed of when we urinate.
Storage and cooking
The way foods containing water soluble vitamins are stored and the cooking methods used are also important, being exposed to the air or to heat or water during cooking will destroy many of the vitamins they contain.
To make sure as few of the water soluble vitamins are lost during cooking as possible, the best cooking methods to choose are those that don’t bring the water directly into contact with the food.
Steaming, microwaving or grilling are the best methods for this.
If you are boiling however, why not keep the water to use in soups or stews rather than pouring it away, keeping all those beneficial vitamins and flavour.