Nutrient Glossary

You can use this page when you come across a term you don’t understand or want more information on. Each heading is hyperlinked in case you would like more information. Enjoy! 


FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS – require fat to be absorbed.

WATER-SOLUBLE VITAMINS – are not stored by the body, but are released in your urine.

FREE RADICALS – are substances that damage DNA, proteins (enzymes) and cell membranes.

ANTIOXIDANTS – help block some of the damage caused by free radicals.


VITAMIN A – Vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver. It strengthens immunity against infections, helps vision and keeps skin and the linings healthy. It is divided into two types; plant-based (carotenoids) and animal based (retinol). Retinol can be toxic in high doses so supplements need to be monitored. However, there is no upper limit to intake of carotenoids. Foods high in Vitamin A include; Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Carrots, Kale and Organ Meats.

THIAMIN (B1) like all B Vitamins, Thiamin is a that helps our bodies process carbohydrates and protein to make energy. It is also used for digestive problems including poor appetite, ulcerative colitis and chronic diarrhoea. The richest sources of Thiamin includes pork, fortified breakfast cereals and grain products.

RIBOFLAVIN (B2) – is involved in iron transport for red blood cell production and is necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver. Milk products are the most common sources of riboflavin as well as bread products and fortified cereals.

NIACIN (B3) – helps the body produce various sex and stress-related hormones and helps to improve circulation and nerve functioning. Because Niacin is made from tryptophan (which is found in protein) any diet that includes protein is unlikely to be lacking.

VITAMIN B6 – helps breakdown sugars and starches and can help prevent homocysteine build-up in the blood, which can be associated with heart disease. B6 also helps prevent anemia as it helps form haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood. The best sources of B6 are meat, enriched cereals, nuts, soy products, lentils, avocado and bananas.

VITAMIN B12 –  that helps keep the nervous system healthy. The main role of B12 is to help our body prices and use carbohydrates, protein and fat to make energy. B12 also helps in the production of red blood cells. Vegans and Vegetarians are at risk of defacing as B12 is usually found in animal foods, so it may be necessary for these individuals to consider supplements.

FOLATE – is involved in DNA/RNA synthesis, proper cell division and metabolism of amino acids. This is why it is important during pregnancy when the foetus is growing in the womb. Cereals like Special K have been fortified with Folic acid (the name used when folate is added to food) and are the most common source. Other sources include: Lentils, Chickpeas, Avocado, Asparagus and Broccoli.

VITAMIN C – is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radicals. Vitamin C also assists in the absorption of Iron from plant-based foods which helps the immune system work properly and protect the body from disease. Vitamin C is found in high amounts in many fruits and vegetables ie. Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Strawberries and Orange.

VITAMIN D – is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps regulate bone health as it promotes the absorption of calcium. It is also important as it helps regulate immune function, heart health, blood pressure, insulin and blood sugar. Fish such as Salmon and Sardines are high in Vitamin D, as well as Milk (dairy/soy/almond), Yoghurt, Orange Juice and Eggs.

VITAMIN E – is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant. It can protect our skin from UV light when rubbed on the skin (ie. Aloe Vera) and, additionally, in the diet, can travel to the skin cell membranes and exert this same effect. It also contributes to immune function and DNA repair. Vitamin E is found mainly in foods that contain fat, such as Nuts and Seeds, Avocado, Spinach and Margarine.

VITAMIN K – is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes healthy blood clotting, protects bones from weakening and prevents a build up of calcium in the arteries (which causes them to harden). Dark leafy vegetables are the best source of Vitamin K, such as Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach and Asparagus.


Calcium is very important for strong bones and healthy teeth. It can also help control muscle and nerve function. Calcium is most commonly found in dairy products, but can also be found in tofu, almonds, brazil nuts and dark leafy green vegetables.

COPPER – Copper is important as it helps the body use iron, it promotes healthy thyroid functioning, maintains bones and connective tissues and can reduce tissue damage caused by free radicals.

IRON – Iron helps carry oxygen around the blood and enables our body to use it for energy. A deficiency in Iron can lead to fatigue and anaemia. Food sources high in Iron include; Fortified Cereal, Red Meat, Tofu, Spinach and Oysters.

MAGNESIUM – Magnesium helps bone metabolism and is necessary to enable energy production in the body. It also helps control inflammation and control blood sugar. The best sources of magnesium are nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish and legumes. Foods with dietary fibre generally contain magnesium.

PHOSPHORUS – Phosphorus is necessary for infants as it is important for bone formation, growth and cognitive development. On top of this, it is essential to energy metabolism, helps regulate hormones and helps cells repair. It is unlikely to be deficient as all plant and animals cells contain phosphorus.

POTASSIUM – Potassium helps conduct electrical charges in the body. It also helps maintain normal blood pressure and keeps the kidneys healthy. It is present in all unprocessed animal and plant-based foods.

SODIUM – Sodium regulates blood volume and blood pressure and is required for nerve and muscle activity. However, too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Most people will reach the recommended daily intake as it is food in mainly in processed foods.

ZINC – Zinc plays an important role in the development and functioning of the immune system. It also helps balance blood sugar by regulating insulin production, storage and release, and is important in for growth and sexual maturation. The best sources of zinc are foods high in protein such as seafood, meat, beans and lentils.

* All information has been sourced from the Health Castle (a website which hosts nutritional advice exclusively from Registered Dietitians) and Wholesome App (a handy app which breaks down what nutrients are in the food you’re eating)


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