Anyone with a passing interest in their health will be able to rattle off a few of the major vitamins, and possibly take an educated guess at what they do. Vitamin C, found in oranges and other fruit and veg, is important for wound repair. And the much-talked-about ‘sunshine’ Vitamin D, produced by the skin in response to UV light, is essential for strong bones.
But Vitamin P? It might well have you scratching your head. And that’s not surprising: the term was first coined in the 1930s to describe a clutch of compounds that provide pigment to plants, and were believed to have health benefits. Fast-forward almost a century and these compounds are now better known as flavonoids.
Today, scientists have identified between 4,000 and 6,000 different kinds and we now know they are responsible for many of the flavours and smells of fruit and vegetables ? and also that they protect them from invaders such as fungi, pests and bacteria.
They are equally important nutrients for the body, helping maintain bones and teeth, and for the production of the protein collagen, which provides structure to blood vessels, muscles and skin.
They are also said to help the body deal with some of the key drivers of illness, including inflammation and oxidation, a natural process by which the body’s cells ‘age’ and can become damaged and defective. That means they could help to protect against chronic disease including cancer and heart disease.