Category Archives: Nutrition Series

Nutrition {13} ~ Minerals

CALCIUM. Builds and protects bones and teeth. Helps with muscle contractions and relaxation, blood clotting, and nerve impulse transmission. Plays a role in hormone secretion and enzyme activation. Helps maintain healthy blood pressure 31–50: M: 1,000 mg, W: 1,000 mg 51-70: M: 1,000 mg, W: 1,200 mg, 71+: M: 1,200 mg, W: 1,200 mg 2,500 mg.

CHLORIDE Balances fluids in the body. A component of stomach acid, essential to digestion 14-50: M/W: 2.3 g, 51-70 M/W: 2.0 g, 71+: M/W: 1.8 g.

CHROMIUM Enhances the activity of insulin, helps maintain normal blood glucose levels, and is needed to free energy from glucose 14–50: M: 35 mcg, 14-18: W: 24 mcg 19-50: W: 25 mcg 51+: M: 30 mcg, W: 20 mcg.

COPPER Plays an important role in iron metabolism and immune system. Helps make red blood cells M: 900 mcg, W: 900 mcg 10,000 mcg.

FLUORIDE Encourages strong bone formation. Keeps dental cavities from starting or worsening M: 4 mg, W: 3 mg 10 mg.

IODINE Part of thyroid hormone, which helps set body temperature and influences nerve and muscle function, reproduction, and growth. Prevents goiter and a congenital thyroid disorder. M: 150 mcg, W: 150 mcg 1,100 mcg.

IRON Helps hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells ferry oxygen throughout the body. Needed for chemical reactions in the body and for making amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones. 19–50: M: 8 mg, W: 18 mg 51+: M: 8 mg, W: 8 mg 45 mg.

MAGNESIUM Needed for many chemical reactions in the body. Works with calcium in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and regulation of blood pressure. Helps build bones and teeth 18+: M: 420 mg, W: 320 mg 350 mg.

MANGANESE Helps form bones. Helps metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates M: 2.3 mg, W: 1.8 mg 11 mg.

MOLYBDENUM Part of several enzymes, one of which helps ward off a form of severe neurological damage in infants that can lead to early death M: 45 mcg, W: 45 mcg 2,000 mcg.

PHOSPHORUS Helps build and protect bones and teeth. Part of DNA and RNA. Helps convert food into energy. Part of phospholipids, which carry lipids in blood and help shuttle nutrients into and out of cells M: 700 mg, W: 700 mg 31–70: 4,000 mg 71+: 3,000 mg.

POTASSIUM Balances fluids in the body. Helps maintain steady heartbeat and send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. A diet rich in potassium seems to lower blood pressure. Getting enough potassium from your diet may benefit bones. M: 4.7 g, W: 4.7 g.

SELENIUM Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Helps regulate thyroid hormone activity. M: 55 mcg, W: 55 mcg 400 mcg.

SODIUM Balances fluids in the body. Helps send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. Impacts blood pressure; even modest reductions in salt consumption can lower blood pressure. M: 2,300 mg, W: 2,300 mg.

SULFUR Helps form bridges that shape and stabilize some protein structures. Needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Sulfur is a component of thiamin and certain amino acids. There is no recommended amount for sulfur. Deficiencies occur only with a severe lack of protein.

ZINC Helps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells. Frees vitamin A from storage in the liver. Needed for immune system, taste, smell, and wound healing. When taken with certain antioxidants, zinc may delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration. M: 11 mg, W: 8 mg

Source ~

Nutrition {12} ~ Vitamins {3} ~ Uses & Recommended Doses

BIOTIN Helps convert food into energy and synthesize glucose. Helps make and break down some fatty acids. Needed for healthy bones and hair. M: 30 mcg, W: 30 mcg

ASCORBIC ACID (vitamin C) Foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk for some cancers, including those of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. Long-term use of supplemental vitamin C may protect against cataracts. Helps make collagen, a connective tissue that knits together wounds and supports blood vessel walls. Helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Bolsters the immune system. M: 90 mg, W: 75 mg Smokers: Add 35 mg 2,000 mg

CHOLINE Helps make and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which aids in many nerve and brain activities. Plays a role in metabolizing and transporting fats M: 550 mg, W: 425 mg 3,500 mg.

CALCIFEROL (vitamin D) Helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen bones. Helps form teeth and bones. Supplements can reduce the number of non-spinal fractures.
31–70: 15 mcg (600 IU) 71+: 20 mcg (800 IU) 50 mcg (2,000 IU)

ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL (vitamin E). Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage. Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. M: 15 mg, W: 15 mg (15 mg equals about 22 IU from natural sources of vitamin E and 33 IU from synthetic vitamin E) 1,000 mg (nearly 1,500 IU natural vitamin E; 2,200 IU synthetic).

FOLIC ACID (vitamin B9, folate, folacin) Vital for new cell creation. Helps prevent brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy; should be taken regularly by all women of child-bearing age since women may not know they are pregnant in the first weeks of pregnancy. Can lower levels of homocysteine and may reduce heart disease risk May reduce risk for colon cancer. Offsets breast cancer risk.

PHYLLOQUINONE, MENADIONE (vitamin K) Activates proteins and calcium essential to blood clotting. May help prevent hip fractures. M: 120 mcg, W: 90 mcg

Source ~

Nutrition {11} ~ Vitamins {2} ~ Uses & Recommended Amounts

RETINOIDS AND CAROTENE (Vitamin A; includes retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid and are also referred to as “preformed” vitamin A. Beta carotene can easily be converted to vitamin A as needed.) Essential for vision Lycopene may lower prostate cancer risk. Keeps tissues and skin healthy. Plays an important role in bone growth and in the immune system. Diets rich in the carotenoids alpha carotene and lycopene seem to lower lung cancer risk. Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against cataracts. M: 900 mcg (3,000 IU) W: 700 mcg (2,333 IU).

THIAMIN (vitamin B1) Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, muscles, and brain and is critical for nerve function. M: 1.2 mg, W: 1.1 mg.

RIBOFLAVIN (vitamin B2) Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, and brain. M: 1.3 mg, W: 1.1 mg.

NIACIN (vitamin B3, nicotinic acid) Helps convert food into energy. Essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous system. M: 16 mg, W: 14 mg 35 mg.

PANTOTHENIC ACID (vitamin B5) Helps convert food into energy. Helps make lipids (fats), neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin. M: 5 mg, W: 5 mg.

PYRIDOXINE (vitamin B6, pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine) Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Helps convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays key roles in sleep, appetite, and moods. Helps make red blood cells Influences cognitive abilities and immune function. 31–50 years old: M: 1.3 mg, W: 1.3 mg; 51+ years old: M: 1.7 mg, W: 1.5 mg 100 mg.

COBALAMIN (vitamin B12) Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Assists in making new cells and breaking down some fatty acids and amino acids. Protects nerve cells and encourages their normal growth. Helps make red blood cells and DNA. M: 2.4 mcg, W: 2.4 mcg.

Source ~

Nutrition {10} ~ Carbohydrates

~The two types of carbohydrate that provide dietary energy are sugars and starch. 1 gram provides 3.75 kcal (16 kJ)
~Dietary fibre is also a type of carbohydrate found almost exclusively in plants. Unlike other carbohydrates, it is not absorbed in the small intestine to provide energy, although some metabolism occurs in the large bowel and it is now recognised that it contributes 2 kcal (8.4kJ) per gram. Dietary fibre has a number of functions including keeping the digestive system healthy
~At least half the energy in our diets should come from carbohydrate, mostly as starchy carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are key components in the diet, comprising sugars, starchy carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Starchy carbohydrates provide an important source of energy, and fibre is important for digestive health. There is also evidence to show that the type of carbohydrate consumed can affect risk of certain diseases including heart disease.

Nutrition {9} ~ Fat

~Fat is made up of different types of fatty acids, some of which are essential for health in small amounts. Fatty acids are usually classified as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated depending on their chemical structure. Among the polyunsaturates there are further structural differences which determine whether the fatty acid is known as an omega 3 (n-3) or omega 6 (n-6) fatty acid. These structural differences directly influence health effects, with mono- and polyunsaturates usually being associated with health benefits when consumed as part of a varied diet. The exception to this is trans fatty acids, which are unsaturated in terms of their structure but behave in the body like saturated fatty acids.
~Fat provides energy; 1 gram provides 37 kJ (9 kcal). Foods that contain a lot of fat provide a lot of energy. Fat is a carrier of fat-soluble vitamins and is necessary for their absorption.
~A high intake of saturated or trans fatty acids can have adverse effects on health.

Nutrition {8} ~ Protein

~Protein is essential for growth and repair of the body and maintenance of good health.
~Protein also provides energy; 1 gram provides 17 kJ (4 kcal).
~The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day for adults.
~The amount of protein we need changes during a lifetime.

Proteins are fundamental structural and functional elements within every cell of the body and are involved in a wide range of metabolic interactions. All cells and tissues contain protein, therefore protein is essential for growth and repair and the maintenance of good health. Protein provides the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy and it is the second most abundant compound in the body, following water. A large proportion of this will be muscle (43% on average) with significant proportions being present in skin (15%) and blood (16%).

Nutrition {7} ~ Probiotics

Probiotics comprise a large number of different strains of bacteria and other microorganisms, such as yeasts. When taken in adequate amounts, these live microorganisms can have measureable biological effects in the body and may confer health benefits. Probiotics have been consumed for thousands of years, and are now widely available for consumers in various forms, including capsules.

Strains from the bacterial genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the probiotics most often present in products and experts in the field suggest that many well studied Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species can be expected to have ‘generic’ or ‘core’ effects on gut physiology and health by creating a more favourable environment in the gut, through mechanisms shared by most probiotics.

The results of scientific studies looking into the health effects of probiotics periodically hit the headlines, with suggested benefits including reducing hay fever symptoms and preventing antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal upset. Much of the research into probiotics focusses on specific health conditions, particularly those relating to the gut, such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis but emerging research suggests bioactivity reaching systems beyond the gut, such as modulating blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and even cognitive function. Some research points specifically towards potential health effects in healthy individuals, including reducing the duration of a cold and improving very mild symptoms (such as abdominal pain and bloating) in individuals without a diagnosed gastrointestinal condition.

Source ~

Nutrition {6} ~ Water

Water is the most abundant constituent of the human body and regular fluid intake is essential for our bodies to function properly.

The amount of fluid needed varies between people and according to age, time of year, climatic conditions, diet and levels of physical activity.

We can obtain our fluid requirements from a number of sources such as water and other drinks, as well as the food we eat.

Dehydration can impair physiological and performance responses, and in extreme cases can be fatal.

It can be dangerous to drink too much water as water intoxication can lead to hyponatraemia.

We have sensitive mechanisms to maintain our body water but attention should be given to children and older people who may not recognise the sensation of thirst so easily, to ensure they consume enough fluids.

Regular fluid intake and water replacement are essential before, during and after exercise.

Nutrition {5} ~ Minerals

Minerals are inorganic substances required by the body in small amounts for a variety of functions. These include the formation of bones and teeth; as essential constituents of body fluids and tissues; as components of enzyme systems and for normal nerve function.

Some minerals are needed in larger amounts than others, e.g. calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. Others are required in smaller quantities and are sometimes called trace minerals, e.g. iron, zinc, iodine, fluoride, selenium and copper. Despite being required in smaller amounts, trace minerals are no less important than other minerals.

Minerals are often absorbed more efficiently by the body if supplied in foods rather than as supplements. Also, a diet that is short in one mineral may well be low in others, and so the first step in dealing with this is to review and improve the diet as a whole. Eating a varied diet will help ensure an adequate supply of most minerals for healthy people.

Most people do not show signs of deficiency but this does not mean their intakes or nutrient status are adequate. For example, adolescent girls, women of childbearing age and some vegans/vegetarians are more susceptible to low iron status as their dietary intake may not match their requirements, and therefore they are at risk of iron deficiency anaemia. There is also concern about the calcium intake of some adolescents, and young and older women and the implications for future bone health.

Certain groups of people may have higher requirements for specific minerals, e.g. women with particularly heavy periods may need extra iron, and extra calcium (and vitamin D) is sometimes recommended by doctors for women at high risk of osteoporosis. In such cases, supplements may be useful but should not replace a varied and healthy diet.

The bioavailability of a mineral (i.e. how readily it can be absorbed and used by the body) may be influenced by a variety of factors. Bioavailability will depend upon the chemical form of the mineral, other substances present in the diet and (for nutrients such as iron) the individual person’s needs as determined by how much of the nutrient is already stored in the body. This is because the body has sensitive mechanisms for preventing storage of nutrients that can be damaging in excess (as is the case with iron).

Some dietary constituents reduce bioavailability. Phytate, for example, found in products made from wholegrain cereals (especially unleavened breads such as chapattis) can bind and hence reduce the absorption of calcium, iron and zinc. Iodine absorption may be hindered by nitrates. Similarly, oxalate present in spinach and rhubarb binds any calcium present, making it unavailable for absorption. Also an excess of one mineral may hinder the absorption of another by competing for the same transport systems in the gut, e.g. excess iron reduces zinc absorption. This generally only becomes a problem when zinc intakes are already marginal.

Unlike some vitamins, minerals are fairly stable in normal food processing and storage conditions.

Nutrition {4} ~ Vitamins {1}

Vitamins are molecules required by the body in small amounts for a variety of essential processes in the body. They are classified as micronutrients because they are normally required in small amounts: usually a few milligrams (mg) or micrograms (μg) per day. Most vitamins cannot be synthesised by the body so must be obtained by the diet. An exception is vitamin D which can be synthesised by the action of sunlight on the skin. Small amounts of niacin (a B vitamin) can be made from the amino acid, tryptophan.

Vitamins have a diverse range of functions in the body, including ~

~Co-factors in enzyme activity
~Antioxidants (prevent damage from free radicals)
~Pro-hormone (only vitamin D)

If insufficient amounts of vitamins are available to the body because of a poor diet or some medical condition, such as malabsorption disorders or inborn errors of metabolism, a deficiency disease can develop.

Vitamins have been grouped into two categories: fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Originally vitamins were given letters (A, B, C etc.) but are now more commonly referred to by their names, e.g. folate, riboflavin.

The body requires different amounts of each vitamin because each vitamin has a different set of functions. Requirements vary according to age, sex and physiological state (for example pregnancy). They may also be influenced by state of health.