[FOOD] Vitamins

Types, functions, sources and deficiency of various vitamins.


Groups of Vitamins

Vitamins are mirco-nutrients; so small amounts are needed for health.

There are two groups of vitamins:

  • Water-soluble (vit C and B-group)
  • Fat-soluble (vit A, D, E, K)
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Vitamin A

Fat-soluble. Needed for good vision, healthy skin and tissue + growth.


  • For: night vision, healthy skin.
  • Sources: Animal origin - dairy products, oily fish.


  • For: antioxidant, protect against cancer.
  • Sources: Plant origin - carrots, green and yellow vegetables.


  • long-term may cause night blindness.
  • Excess can cause liver & bone damage.
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Vitamin B

There's many types of the B-group vitamin. But only the following 5 is the main ones that'll is included in the syllabus:

  • Vitamin B1 Thiamin
  • Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B Niacin
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B Folate - Folic acid

The B-group vitamins are water-soluble.

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Vitamin B1 Thiamin

Needed for the release and transfer of energy from nutrients (carbohydrate) in body cells.

Sources: fortified breakfast cereals, milk & milk products, bread and potatoes

Deficiency: Slow growth and development; tiredness + depression; beriberi.

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Vitamin B2 Riboflavin

Needed for the release and transfer of energy from nutrients (protein, carbohydrate & fat).

Sources: fortified breakfast cereals, milk & milk products, meat, eggs and vegetables.

Deficiency: Slow growth and development; skin and eye problems.

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Vitamin B Niacin

Needed for release of energy in cells (energy-producing reactions), nervous system and healthy skin.

Sources: fortified breakfast cereals, meat, bread and potatoes. Niacin can be produce in the body by an amino acid, tryptophan.

Deficiency: pellagra (symptoms: diarrhoea, dementia and dermatitis); high doses can cause liver damage.

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Vitamin B12

Needed for production of red blood cells and prevent anaemia; protects nervous system.

Sources: All animal-origin food: meat, liver, milk, cheese, fish; fortified breakfast cereals.

Deficiency: pernicious (deadly) anaemia and neurological problems.

Deficiency of B12 are more common in vegetarians practicing a vegan diet. Therefore B12 supplements are needed.

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Vitamin B Folate (Folic Acid)

Needed for red cell + DNA production, cell division and growth. Pregnant women need to have a right amount of intake of folic acid, especially at the early stage of pregnancy.

Sources: fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, fruits, bread (fortified), nuts + pulses.

Deficiency: tiredness, anaemia; neural tube defects in pregnancy.

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Vitamin C

Name: Ascorbic Acid

Water-soluble. Antioxidant; needed for healthy skin, helps maintain connective tissues, wound-healing; iron absorption (blood-orange).

Sources: Fruits (especially citrus fruits) and vegetables.

Deficiency: Scurvy.

Very water-soluble, therefore easily lost during cooking process and by soaking.

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Vitamin D

Name Cholecalciferol 

Fat-soluble. Needed for growth, healthy bones and teeth; helps absorption of calcium (sunny bones).

Sources: Sunlight; margarine, oily fish.

Deficiency: rickets, high intake causes hypercalcaemia (unusual excess amount of calcium in blood) in children.

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Vitamin E

Name: Tocopherol

Fat-soluble. Needed for healthy skin; helps protect against heart disease.

Sources: Eggs, nuts, cereals, vegetable oils.

Deficiency: Rare.

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Vitamin K

Name: Phytomenadione

Fat-soluble. Needed for blood-clotting.

Sources: Vegetables, fruits, cereals, meat; produced by bacteria in large intestine.

Deficiency: Rare.

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jill richardson


Basic information about the main vitamins on these revision cards.

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