A-Z of Nutrients

Introduction to nutrients

Welcome to Viva!Health's A-Z of Nutrients. We hope you enjoy using it as a resource to answer all your questions and more on every nutrient we all need for good health.

Want to know how much protein you need? What’s the difference between good fat and bad fat? Where to get health-protecting vitamins, minerals and those super-powered antioxidants? Are you worried about iron or calcium? Find out more about carbohydrates, omega-3 fats, zinc, iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12 – and be reassured. Our A-Z of Nutrients has all the answers and more.

From vitamin A to zinc, every page tells you how much of each nutrient you need, where you can get it and how much people get on average. Easy to navigate, you can dip in if you just want the basics.

If you want to know more, plenty of additional information on each nutrient is provided, including amounts in average food portions.

Find out if bananas really are a great source of potassium and why Popeye loved spinach so much (the answer is not what most people think!).

For new and veteran vegans, vegetarians and people reducing meat and dairy, this vital resource provides all the information you need to ensure that a vegan diet can supply all you need for a healthier, kinder life.

Do vegans need supplements?

A varied, vegan diet can provide all the nutrients you need and is considerably healthier than the average Western diet containing meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. The trio of nutrients vegans (and non-vegans) may need to watch are vitamin B12, vitamin D and iodine. Your omega-3 fat intake may need some attention too. There are concerns about low levels of these nutrients among the general population – regardless of diet. 

Overall, Viva!Health recommends a healthy and varied, vegan diet over supplements. A diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain foods, pulses, nuts and seeds offers considerably more nutritional benefit than a multivitamin pill. Furthermore, there are some vitamins and minerals that can harm health when taken in excess.

This information is written generally for healthy people. It is intended for guidance only and should not be used to replace medical advice. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs or supplements you should consult a doctor before changing your diet. If you have any concerns, please speak to your doctor.

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A word on units…

Protein and carbohydrate are needed in gram (g) quantities, micronutrients, like vitamin C and iron, are needed in milligram (mg) quantities (1/1000 gram) and others, like vitamin B12 and iodine, are needed in microgram (µg) quantities (1/1000000 gram). Some are needed only in very small amounts, to enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for normal growth and development. Although only tiny amounts may be required, the consequences of their absence can be severe.