B group vitamins regulate many chemical reactions necessary to maintain health. Some help release energy in the body, some help to maintain good vision and healthy skin, some are important for optimal brain function, while others are needed for the manufacture of red blood cells.
Beef and lamb contain vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and are particularly important dietary sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal foods, with beef and lamb among the richest sources providing at least 25% of the recommended daily intake for adults per 150g serve, such as a small steak or 3/4 cup of mince.
Vitamin D is involved with calcium in the body to give us strong bones. The main source of vitamin D comes from the exposure of skin to sunlight. Where exposure is inadequate or we protect ourselves from the sun's harmful rays, where in New Zealand it has been estimated UV levels are 40% higher than in equivalent Northern latitudes, dietary sources of vitamin D become important.
Traditionally, food sources have been limited to dairy products, eggs and oily fish. New Zealand's beef and lamb can now be added to the list as a natural source, containing a potent form, making it a nutrient-dense and effective source. As a result a serving of beef or lamb can make an important contribution to the intakes of vulnerable groups where exposure to sunlight is low and for whom dietary sources are important.
Vitamin A is needed for growth, reproduction, vision and to keep skin and respiratory (breathing) tracts healthy.
Liver (or lamb's fry) is an excellent source of vitamin A and is often recommended as a food to eat during times of high iron needs, such as pregnancy due to its high levels of iron content. Pregnant women are advised to eat no more than 100g of liver or liver paté per week due to potentially toxic effects of vitamin A on the foetus. As a complementary food for babies, puréed liver can be introduced around 6 months, limiting to 3 teaspoons per week.