Vital Amines – Part 1 Nutrition

I am presenting a guest lecture at CalPoly Pomona next week. It is for a Food Chemistry course and the topic is Vitamins. I narrowed it down to four topics that should be covered: Nutrition, stability, use in processing and government regulations.

There is lots of information available on vitamins as nutrients, some of it even factual. The Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) has a good website that links to other sites with more background information.

Rather than go through every single vitamin in class, which is a nutrition class of its own, I summarized the basic information:

Vitamin A

Chemical Name(s): retinol; β-carotene

RDI: 1000 μg – RE or 5000 IU

Sources: Richest source = liver tissue; E.g cod liver oil; Animal sources (retinol): Dairy products, eggs, fish, liver; Plant sources (β-carotene): Carrots, leafy vegetables, fruits (rose hips, sweet potatoes (red and yellow), pumpkin, apricots, oranges) and palm oil

Biological Function: Normal vision and reproductive function; Cellular differenttiation and epithelia development; Maintenance of growth and general health

Nutritional Deficiency: Xero-phthalmia and night blindness

Vitamin D

Chemical Name(s): Cholecalciferol (D3), Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)

RDI: 10 μg

Sources: Sunlight; Vitamin D2: Fortified Dairy products, margarine; Vitamin D3: Cod liver oil, herring, canned salmon, canned sardines, eggs

Biological Function: Metabolite 1,25-dihydroxy cholecalciferol is biologically active; Functions as a hormone to maintain plasma calcium and phosphorus levels; Stimulates calcium absorption

Nutritional Deficiency: Rickets and osteomalacia

Vitamin E

Chemical Name(s): Tocopherols

RDI: 20 mg α-TE

Sources: Vegetable seed oils, beef, pork, fish

Biological Function: Antioxidant: Reduces the peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids; Role in reproductive system

Nutritional Deficiency: unlikely

Vitamin K

Chemical Name(s): Phylloquinone (K1) from plant origin, Menaquinone (K2) from bacterial synthesis (often in lower GI tract)

RDI: none

Sources: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, liver

Biological Function: Important co-factor in post translational modification of proteins which participate in the coagulation cascade

Nutritional Deficiency: Hypoprothrombinaemia

Vitamin C

Chemical Name(s): Ascorbic acid

RDI: 60 mg

Sources: Blackcurrants, rose hips, kiwi, persimmons, citrus fruits, other fruits and vegetables; potatoes

Biological Function: Involved in hydroxylation reactions; Influences normal collagen production

Nutritional Deficiency: Scurvy

Vitamin B1

Chemical Name(s): Thiamin

RDI: 1.5 mg

Sources: Whole grain cereals, dried legumes, Yeast, potatoes, animal organs, milk, meat, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables

Biological Function: Coenzyme of carboxylase – involved in carbohydrate metabolism

Nutritional Deficiency: Beriberi

Vitamin B2

Chemical Name(s): Riboflavin

RDI: 1.7 mg

Sources: Liver and other organ meats, milk and milk products, eggs, roe; vegetables, yeast, whole grain cereals

Biological Function: Prosthetic group of flavine enzymes involved in general metabolism, and specifically protein metabolism

Nutritional Deficiency: Minor skin ailments

Vitamin B3

Chemical Name(s): Niacin/niacinamide/ nicotinamide

RDI: 20 mg NE

Sources: Made from tryptophan; Liver, kidney, peanuts, wheat bran, dried legumes, nuts

Biological Function: Niacin coenzymes NAD+ and NADP+ are involved in oxidation-reduction reactions catalyzed by dehydrogenases; Carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism

Nutritional Deficiency: Pellagra

Vitamin B6

Chemical Name(s): Pyridoxol – plant sources; Pyridoxamine, pyridoxal, phosphorylated forms – animal sources

RDI: 20 mg

Sources: Meats, whole grain cereals, peanuts, bananas

Biological Function: Involved in nearly all reactions associated with transformation of amino acids Stabilizes conformation of phosphorylases

Nutritional Deficiency: Rarely occurs as dermatitis

Vitamin B12

Chemical Name(s): Cyanobalamin

RDI: 6 μg

Sources: Limited availability in foods (animals sources only) as produced only by microbial biosynthesis; organ meats (liver, kidney, heart), nonfat dry milk, egg yolks, fermented cheeses, yeast extract

Biological Function: Participates in DNA synthesis reactions by assisting in regeneration of folate; maintenance of myelin in nervous system

Nutritional Deficiency: Pernicious anemia


RDI: 400 μg

Sources: Spinach, broccoli flowers, lima beans, peanuts, asparagus, beats, cabbage, lettuce, avocados

Biological Function: Essential for 1-C transfers – especially for purine and pyrimidine synthesis, thereby influencing DNA synthesis

Nutritional Deficiency: Pernicious anemia

Pantothenic acid

RDI: 10 mg

Sources: Found universally on all living matter, yeast, liver, kidney, egg yolk, peanuts, rice, broccoli

Biological Function: Component of coenzyme A that participates in acetyl transfers as a H+ donor or accepter

Nutritional Deficiency: Never described


RDI: 300 μg

Sources: Liver, royal jelly, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, animal products

Biological Function: Functions co-enzymatically in carboxylation reactions; Role in polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism

Nutritional Deficiency: Does not occur except in extreme circumstances


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