Nutrition 101 – Glossary – V

VeganDefinition – Someone who eats no flesh foods (meat, poultry or fish), eggs and dairy products/ingredients. May omit honey, too. Relevance – A person who follows a vegan diet will need to ensure a good source of vitamin B12 (such as vitamin B12-fortirifed foods) since it’s only present naturally in animal foods.

VegetarianDefinition – General term for a diet without meat, poultry or fish (flesh foods). May or may not include eggs or dairy products. Relevance – To experience the potential health benefits of a vegetarian diet, you need to make healthful food choices overall, not simply avoid meat or other animal foods.

Vigorous-intensity physical activityDefinition – Aerobic exercise performed at a pace where you cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Relevance – With vigorous exercise, you get similar benefits in half the time it takes you with moderate exercise.

Vitamin A Definition -Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found as either preformed vitamin A, present in animal products, or pro-vitamin A, found in fruits and vegetables; the most common type of pro-vitamin A is beta carotene. Relevance – Vitamin A support health of the skin, teeth, membranes, vision and soft and skeletal tissue; the active form of vitamin A is retinol, which is found in animal liver and whole milk, as well as some fortified foods.

Vitamin B12 Definition – Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the nervous system, DNA synthesis, and blood cells. Relevance –  Absorbing B12 from food is a two-step process that occurs in the stomach that is impaired for individuals with pernicious anemia; vitamin B12 is found in meat, dairy, fish, shellfish, eggs and some fortified cereals.

Vitamin C Definition – Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many fruits and vegetables that is important for tissue growth and repair and like most water-soluble vitamins, is not produced in the body. Relevance – Vitamin C is an antioxidant that must be obtained from the diet that, contrary to popular belief, has been shown to be largely ineffective in reducing the risk of the common cold; although it may shorten the duration of a cold.

Vitamin D Definition – Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in body fat; vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and protects against osteoporosis and rickets. Relevance – Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, mainly fatty fish, eggs, cheese and beef liver, so it is highly fortified in the diet; vitamin D is produced by the body during direct exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin E Definition – Vitamin E is the pooled name for eight naturally-occurring fat-soluble antioxidant compounds, of which alpha-tocopherol is the only one known to meet human needs. Relevance – Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant by prohibiting the formation of free-radicals during fat breakdown, but is also involved in immunity and cell signaling. The best sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fortified cereals and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin K Definition – Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin found in dark berries and green vegetables that makes proteins critical for proper blood clotting. Relevance – Vitamin K is typically administered by shot to newborns because they have very little, although deficiency is otherwise rare. Vitamin K is also critical for using calcium to build bones, and evidence shows that vitamin K improves bone health.