The Facts about Minerals and Vitamins

The Facts about Minerals and Vitamins

Our blogs and articles will educate you as to the most abundant food sources of each. Mostly the population now is deficient in minerals over vitamins. Australians currently spend over half a billion dollars annually on vitamin and mineral supplements. This self medicating and jumping on the bandwagon of newly discovered secret ingredients can actually be detrimental to ones health. Some vitamins when supplemented can create a deficiency in another so it is important to obtain blood tests first to establish a base line. In many cases you could be better off saving that money for a holiday in the sun with friends or family!

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is abundant in the body; most magnesium is stored in bones then muscle and the remainder of magnesium is found in soft tissue and body fluid. Magnesium has many diverse actions; it is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions that are essential to the life of cells, the production of energy is just one example.

Other roles where magnesium is used is in the nervous system; formation of protein and DNA;

Benefits: Helps to relax muscle fiber (whereas calcium helps to contract) – such as heart muscle, valves, in hypertension, leg cramps, soothes the digestive tract helps to alleviate constipation, reduction of pain in particular during menstruation & strengthens the immune system. Reduces pain and tension and alleviates symptoms of insomnia.

Food Sources: Kelp, seaweeds, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, cocoa – the darker the chocolate the better – almonds, nuts, parsnips, whole grain cereals – oats – blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, eggs and seeds – chia

B Group Vitamins

B group vitamins are water-soluble vitamins; together with vitamin C, another water- soluble vitamin, are absorbed directly into the blood stream and need to be replenished on a daily basis.
B vitamins include: Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folic acid (B9), Cyanocobalamin (B12) and Biotin.

B vitamins are especially important when it comes to energy production, metabolism and blood building. They play a huge role in enzyme activity, especially digestive enzymes and liver detoxification.

B vitamins are more potent in the body when all are present together rather than individually

Today’s food processing significantly decreases B vitamin levels; they are especially sensitive to heat and light. By separating the bran from the grain up to 90% of certain B vitamins will be destroyed, so always choose wholefoods with minimal processing. High levels of zinc and stress; long-term use of oral contraceptives; antacids and other medications can reduce the absorption of B vitamins.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is most abundant in the body; most of which is found in bones, and small amounts in other tissues where it helps: to contract muscle fibers, with nerve activity, blood clotting processes, enzyme activity and even the regulation of certain hormone secretions and acid/alkaline balance.

There are certain stages in life where calcium is needed in greater amounts, for example: during growth spurts in children and teenagers, pregnancy and lactation. Other cases where extra calcium is necessary is when diets are high in protein, caffeine and/or sodium; for athletes; postmenopausal women and in the elderly.

Food Sources: Wholegrain and cereals – oats and brown rice, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds – sunflower and walnuts, eggs, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, avocado, nutritional and brewer’s yeast, organ meats, chicken, tuna, mackerel and salmon are food sources of the B vitamins

Calcium found in foods include: almonds, chickpeas, chia seeds, sesame seeds, figs, dairy products, eggs, green leafy vegetables, bok choy, broccoli, soybeans, collard greens, mustard greens, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, black strap molasses and fish with bones – sardines and salmon.

Chromium

Chromium is a trace mineral that is critical in blood sugar regulation. Chromium enhances the effects of insulin ensuring glucose can be absorbed by cells; this in turn reduces glucose levels in the blood.

Chromium is an important cofactor that is required in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat, protein and corticosteroids.
Ensuring chromium levels are adequate; it is a useful nutrient to curbing and reducing sugar cravings.

Foods containing chromium should be consumed on a regular basis in particularly if there is a blood glucose disorder e.g. diabetes, hypoglycemia, syndrome x, polycystic ovarian syndrome and obesity.
Vitamin C encourages chromium to be easily absorbed by the body.

Iron

Iron is an essential mineral found in the body in two forms: haem or non-haem. Haem iron is more bioavailable in comparison to non-haem. Haem iron is found in animal products and non-haem is plant-based iron.

Caffeine, tannins found in black tea, calcium, zinc and low stomach acid levels have a negative impact on the absorption of iron; these compounds either compete with or reduce iron absorption.

Acids, such as vitamin C, and beta-carotene – a phytochemical found in orange coloured and dark green leafy vegetables – greatly improve the absorption of non-haem iron.

Iron is important to human life as it plays a central role in the production of red blood cells, specifically haemoglobin. Myoglobin is a molecule that stores and carries oxygen to all cells of the body especially to muscle cells when demand is high as in exercise, to prevent fatigue.

Iron is an important mineral for females of childbearing age and menstruating years; iron rich foods should be consumed on a regular basis.

Food sources include: Brewer?s yeast, liver, whole grains, cheese, apple, asparagus, eggs, blackstrap molasses, potato, mushrooms and various spices – cinnamon

Food sources of both haem and non-haem iron include: liver, red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, beetroot, soybeans, apricots, figs, dates, yeast, parsley, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Other cases where iron consumption needs to be increased include body building, athletes and in the elderly. Iron is essential for supporting the immune and nervous systems especially in young children.

Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte. An electrolyte is a liquid or gel that has charged particles; this allows for the conduction of electricity. This way, potassium has the potential to greatly excite nerve tissue.

Potassium also has an influence in the contraction of muscle tissue, whether smooth, skeletal or heart.

Another important role potassium has, is the regulation of pH (acid/alkaline) and electrolyte balance. Electrolytes help with: water balance and allocation, support kidney and adrenal glands and maintain heart function.

Potassium also regulates how much sodium enters the cell. If too much sodium is present, cells swell and can burst therefore increasing dietary sources of potassium help to alleviate this problem.

Conditions such as diarrhea lead to loss of potassium stores, as does diuretic and laxative abuse, high intake of protein, salt, coffee, tea, alcohol and sugar.

Sodium

Like potassium, sodium is a mineral and electrolyte and both have an important function when it comes to: blood volume, water balance and acid/alkaline regulation, supporting kidney and adrenals, muscle and nervous system support as well as supporting the heart. Sodium specifically focuses on blood, lymphatic fluid, nerves, muscle and saliva.

The amount of sodium in raw fruit and vegetables is quite low; the more foods have been processed, sodium, in the form of sodium chloride (table salt), is added to the food and this leads to many Australian’s over consuming sodium.

The over consumption of sodium chloride is the key here which is not noted on nutrition panels. Most pre-packed foods contain this and this leads to plaque of the arteries. Himalayan Salt and Celtic Sea Salts contain more than 78 trace minerals that our body requires.

Banana, apricot, avocado, dates, citrus fruit, all vegetables especially green coloured vegetables – celery, asparagus etc., almonds, pecans, potato, sardines, herring, sunflower seeds, whole grains and milk are all excellent food sources of potassium.

Food sources of sodium include: celery, most vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, liver, brain, pickled olives, peas, table salt, tuna, sardines, processed meat, canned soups and many processed foods – pretzels, chips, crackers etc.

Vitamin C

Being a water-soluble nutrient, vitamin C is essential for the body (cannot be made in the body); it needs to be obtained from the diet, on a daily basis.

Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, light, oxygen; even cooking foods with too much water can significantly reduce the amount of this nutrient. By eating a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that have had minimal cooking is the way to go with vitamin C. If you need to do some cooking, try stir-frying, lightly steaming or blanching instead of boiling, roasting or stewing.

Vitamin C has many roles in the body: it is a powerful antioxidant, specifically targets folic acid and vitamin E regeneration, metabolism of cholesterol; helps with the absorption of iron and copper; helps in the formation of thyroid hormones; aids in energy release and fuses with Carnitine; has many benefits when it comes to brain and the nervous system; vitamin C is another skin beautifying nutrient – essential for collagen formation and has powerful immune stimulating properties, just to name a few.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins; this nutrient requires fat to be absorbed and is stored in fat tissue. The skin, when exposed to ultra-violet light (sunshine), is the organ that helps with the production of vitamin D.

Only recently has it been found that vitamin D not only helps with the absorption of calcium for bone health, vitamin D has powerful effects on the immune system – triggers many immune genes to switch on; vitamin D is involved with regulating hormones and insulin secretion; helps in brain function and improving mood and even helps to maintain muscle strength of the heart and skeletal muscles.

Because vitamin D is found in animal products, vegetarians can be potentially deficient; this could be the case if a person does not expose themselves to ultra-violet light, sunshine, especially during the summer months – in moderation; to help store adequate amounts for the winter months (skin cannot produce vitamin D in winter, due to the angle of the sun)

Asparagus, broccoli, green capsicum, papaya, kale, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, citrus fruit, pineapple, blackcurrant, parsley and rosehips are excellent food sources of vitamin C.
The best food sources of vitamin D include: oily fish – herring, salmon, sardines, tuna and cod – beef, veal and liver, eggs, organic butter

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin; not only is dietary fat required to absorb fat- soluble vitamins, it does not get easily destroyed by the usual cooking methods. Vitamin E is both the most potent and important fat-soluble antioxidant – prevents free- radical damage on a cellular level. Vitamin E also decreases inflammation, helps to regulate the immune system and together with zinc promotes wound healing especially the heart and vascular system as well as exercise induced tissue damage; ensures blood flows smoothly.

Vitamin E can be lost through cooking, frying, bleaching, milling and processing.

Zinc

Zinc is a metallic micro mineral found in all organs and tissue in the body. Zinc has hundreds of functions in the body. It is a very important nutrient.

Zinc is a cofactor in hundreds of enzymatic reactions – helps to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins;

  1. Helps to produce hydrochloric acid in the stomach; zinc is involved in DNA production; also positively influences insulin related condition;
  2. Zinc is needed for wound healing and regeneration especially for skin conditions such as cold sores, acne and ulcers; normalizes immune responses and has antibacterial and antiviral properties;
  3. Tones the nervous system;
  4. Is vital for sexual reproductive health;
  5. Zinc is a powerful antioxidant to help reduce cellular damage, plus many more functions.
  6. Low zinc levels have been found in the following conditions: depression, fertility issues, impotence, Crohn’s disease, anorexia nervosa and tinnitus. Adequate levels of zinc improve and enhance taste and smell of food in particular. Long- term stress also decreases levels of zinc.

Best food sources of zinc is in oysters and seafood, followed by pumpkin seeds or pepitas, ginger root, eggs, sunflower seeds, beef, lamb, whole grains, miso, tofu, brewer’s yeast, mushrooms, legumes and green beans.

Food sources of vitamin E include: cold pressed vegetable oils – wheat germ, nuts and seeds; dairy; soya beans, eggs, kale, spinach, liver, asparagus and sweet potato.

Herbs

In the Western Diet some of the most beneficial herbs for their medicinal and nutritional properties are omitted from our meals. Below are some of the key herbs that can be added to most any meal for added flavour and health benefits.

 

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