Vitamins

Meat and meat products are especially good sources of most of the water-soluble vitamins. In general, meat is the major dietary source of vitamin B12 and is an excellent source of many of the other B vitamins, such as pyridoxine (B6), biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin. For vitamin B12, red meat products such as beef and lamb are especially good sources. Pork products are one of the very best sources of thiamin. Although present in muscle foods, the fat-soluble vitamins are less abundant than in plant foods. Vitamins E and K are present, but at lower levels.

Vitamin D activity may be present in some meat products, but at extremely low levels. This is reflected in the USDA nutrient database, in which vitamin D activity is not listed for beef, pork, lamb, veal, and chicken/turkey products; however, it is listed for some processed meat products. In recent years, there has been production research on beef, pork, and lamb to determine if added vitamin D3 or its metabolites, fed to the animal for a brief period of time prior to slaughter, can result in improved meat tenderness. Although the results are inconsistent, and commercial application is premature, there is some indication that tenderness may be improved with relatively low levels of vitamin D supplementation, which seems to leave very little residual vitamin D3 or its metabolites in the muscle. Research in Denmark notes that the more biologically active 25-OHD is present at low levels in meat; however, there is no consensus on the conversion factor for 25-OHD to calculate vitamin D

activity. Also, there are very few data on the vitamin D and 25-OHD levels in most meat products. This represents a potential future area of research regarding the nutrient composition of meat.

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