Fish Vitamins

The vitamin content of fish and shellfish is rich and varied in composition, although somewhat variable in concentration. In fact, significant differences are neatly evident among groups, especially regarding fat-soluble vitamins. Furthermore, vitamin content shows large differences among species as a function of feeding regimes.

The approximate vitamin concentration ranges of the various finfish and shellfish groups are summarized in Table 7. The RDA for adults is also given, together with the percentage supplied by 100 g of fish. Of the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin E (tocopherol) is distributed most equally, showing relatively high concentrations in all fish groups, higher than those of meat. However, only a part of the vitamin E content is available as active tocopherol on consumption of fish, since it is oxidized in protecting fatty acids from oxidation. The presence of vitamins A (retinol) and D is closely related to the fat content, and so they are almost absent in most low-fat groups. Appreciable but low concentrations of vitamin A are found in fatty finfish and bivalve molluscs, whereas vitamin D is very abundant in fatty fish. In fact, 100 g of most fatty species supply over 100% of the RDA of this vitamin.

Water-soluble vitamins are well represented in all kinds of fish, with the sole exception of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is almost absent in all of them. The concentrations of the rest are highly variable; however, with few exceptions, they constitute a medium-to-good source of such vitamins, comparable with, or even better than, meat. The contents of vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, biotin, and B12 (cobala-min) are relatively high. Indeed, 100 g of fish can contribute up to 38%, 60%, 50%, 33%, and 100%, respectively, of the total daily requirements of those vitamins. Fatty fish also provides a higher supply of many of the water-soluble vitamins (namely pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid, and cobalamin) than does white fish or shellfish. Crustaceans also possess a relatively higher content of pantothenic acid, whereas bivalve molluscs have much higher concentrations of folate and cobalamin.

Table 7 Vitamin content of the different groups of fish and shellfish (mg or ^g per 100g)
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