Do you keep track of your intake of vital nutrients? I doubt seriously if you do, my guess is that at least 95% of the American public doesn’t. Most people just do not see it as important. We do know that only 12% to 15% eat the recommended minimum of 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits a day. When you look at that those figures, it becomes easy to see why America’s health is spiraling downward, particularly for America’s children. I want to convince you that keeping track of certain essential nutrients in your diet will foster good health and may even give protection against many adverse health conditions, illnesses and diseases. This may take a little effort however in my opinion it is worth it. Keeping a daily food journal for a while will give you an idea of the nutrients you are getting. For food journals I recommend two sites, this site is the most comprehensive and is free http://nutritiondata.self.com/ and secondarily this site is also free. http://www.fatsecret.com
Many health organizations report that nutrition and lifestyle factors contribute to more than 70% of chronic disease and illness. Unhealthy eating and inactivity contribute to 310,000 to 580,000 deaths each year according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That’s 13 times more than are killed by guns and 20 times more than by drug use.1
What adverse health conditions are you dealing with? No one is immune from negative health issues but we can swing the potential for good health in our favor by eating foods rich in health building nutrients.
It’s always best to get your nutrients from foods first and supplements secondarily. The body does not recognize isolated or synthetic nutrients the way it does food form nutrients. Therefore the absorption and use of the nutrients in the body can be much less effective than the nutrients you get from real foods. When I say real foods I am talking about unprocessed and unrefined foods. For example; Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, wild caught fish, free range chicken, free range turkey and organic eggs.
When I say nutrients, I am talking about essential nutrients meaning they must come from the foods we eat because our bodies can’t make them and they are important for good health. Nutrients are the body’s building blocks of health. A diet that is consistently deficient in these nutrients will over time reap the effects of a poor diet. This could be as simple as fatigue, anxiety, and body pain or more serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. All of these are most likely nutrient and lifestyle induced issues.
For the sake of clarity I will list the 6 essential nutrients; they are water, carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. Within these 6 are subsets of other families. For example, carbohydrates are separated into two groups, starches and fiber. There are many other families of nutrients in healthy foods however they are not considered essential. You may recognize some of them and you may have even thought they were essential. How about Antioxidants: they promote health by protecting cells and their genetic material from damage from free radical attacks. Phytosterols: a type of plant fat, they help reduce cholesterol helping to prevent or even reverse atherosclerosis and have shown properties that protect against colon cancer.
Essential Nutrients and Their Impact on Our Body
Vitamins and How They Impact Our Health
|Vitamin||Health Impact Partial list||Significant Food Sources (partial list)|
|B1 (thiamin)||Supports energy, required to turn food into energy, metabolism and nerve function, reduces stress||spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk|
|B2 (riboflavin)||Supports energy, required to turn food into energy, metabolism, normal vision and skin health,||spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams|
|B3 (niacin)||Supports energy, required to turn food into energy, metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system||spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp|
|Biotin||Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis||widespread in foods|
|Pantothenic Acid||Supports energy metabolism||widespread in foods|
|B6 (pyridoxine)||Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production, heart health||bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast|
|Folate||Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation, heart health, supports nerve health||tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans|
|B12||Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance, heart health||meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs|
|C (ascorbic acid)||Collagen synthesis, amino acid metabolism, helps iron absorption, immunity, antioxidant, healthy bones and joints||spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries|
|A (retinol)||Supports vision, skin, bone and tooth growth, immunity and reproduction,||mango, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beef liver|
|D||Promotes bone mineralization, required o build certain hormones||self-synthesis via sunlight, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish, cod liver oil|
|E||Antioxidant, regulation of oxidation reactions, cellular membrane health, supports cell membrane stabilization||polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn and canola oils), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod|
|K||Synthesis of blood-clotting proteins, regulates blood calcium, bone health, immune function||Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, liver|
Minerals and How They Impact Our Health
|Mineral||Health Impact||Significant Food Sources|
|Sodium||Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, supports muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmissions||Processed foods, salt, soy sauce, bread, milk, meats|
|Chloride||Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, aids in digestion||Processed foods, salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, meats|
|Potassium||Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, cell integrity, muscle relaxation and nerve impulse transmission||potatoes, acorn squash, artichoke, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green beans, cantaloupe, tomato juice, avocado, grapefruit juice, watermelon, banana, strawberries, cod, milk|
|Calcium||Formation of bones and teeth, supports blood clotting, muscle contraction, maintains pH balance||milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, tofu, sardines, green beans, spinach, broccoli, fortified foods|
|Phosphorus||Formation of cells, bones and teeth, maintains pH balance||all animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk)|
|Magnesium||Used in over 300 metabolic functions, supports bone mineralization, protein building, muscular contraction, nerve impulse transmission, immune function, helps regulate blood pressure||spinach, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, tomato juice, navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, sunflower seeds, tofu, cashews, halibut|
|Iron||Part of the protein hemoglobin (carries oxygen throughout body’s cells) , necessary for healthy cellular function, required for Neurotransmitters, dopamine, nor-epinephrine and serotonin||artichoke, parsley, spinach, broccoli, green beans, tomato juice, tofu, lentils, beans, whole grains, clams, shrimp, beef liver;
iron in foods sources becomes more bio-available to the body when consumed with Vitamin c rich foods
|Zinc||A part of many enzymes, involved in production of genetic material and proteins, transports vitamin A, taste perception, wound healing, sperm production and the normal development of the fetus , immune function||spinach, broccoli, green peas, green beans, tomato juice, lentils, oysters, shrimp, crab, turkey (dark meat), lean ham, lean ground beef, lean sirloin steak, plain yogurt, Swiss cheese, tofu, ricotta cheese
If taken as a supplement always take cooper with it. Cooper and zinc compete for space on the same enzyme and the intake of too much of one may cause a deficiency of the other.
|Selenium||Antioxidant. Works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation||Brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, barley, oats, seafood, meats and grains|
|Iodine||Component of thyroid hormones that help regulate growth, development and metabolic rate||salt, kelp, algae, seafood, bread, milk, cheese|
|Copper||Necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron, supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes||Calf’s liver, cashews, cooked soybeans, crimini mushrooms, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, coked barley, garbanzo beans, pinto beans
If taken as a supplement always take zinc with it. Cooper and zinc compete for space on the same enzyme and the intake of too much of one may cause a deficiency of the other.
|Manganese||Facilitates many cell processes||widespread in foods|
|Fluoride||Involved in the formation of bones and teeth, helps to make teeth resistant to decay||fluoridated drinking water, tea, seafood|
|Chromium||Associated with insulin and is required for the release of energy from glucose||vegetable oils, liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, cheese, nuts|
|Molybdenum||Facilitates many cell processes||legumes, organ meats|