Eating your A,B,C’s and Zincs
by Lisa Metzgar, PhD
In my last series, I talked about the importance of including a wide variety of color in our diets. This ensures that we get a wide variety of nutrients to balance our bodies.
In this series, I will talk about the benefits of vitamins and minerals. It is important to take a good multivitamin on a daily basis but essential to get most of your vitamins and minerals from your food. When you eat a healthy variety of foods, it ensures that your body gets the proper building blocks for all its intricate functions in the right ratios. All vitamins and minerals act together to perform thousands of functions in our bodies. If you aren’t getting the proper nutrients in the right balance then the body starts to break down. I will talk about each vitamin and its functions in the body but remember that you don’t want to run out and just start taking that individual vitamin. Taking too much of one vitamin or mineral can lead to imbalances or deficiencies of others. I will give a list of foods that contain each vitamin and mineral I talk about so try to include as many of those foods in your diet.
Vitamin A comes from both plant sources (in the form of beta-carotene two Vitamin A A’s bound together) and animal sources. Animals can’t make Vitamin A themselves. They get it from plant sources in the form of beta-carotene. The two bound Vitamin A A’s are split apart in the small intestine by an enzyme.
The liver plays an essential role in the digestion, absorption, and distribution of Vitamin A . 90% of our Vitamin A stores, including beta-carotene are found in the liver. The liver produces the enzyme responsible for splitting beta-carotene. It stimulates the production of bile which unleashes Vitamin Aand other fat-soluble vitamins from fatty foods. The liver also synthesizes the carrier protein retinol binding globulin which aids in the absorption of Vitamin A.
Many Americans have a Vitamin A deficiency due to a diet high in deep-fried foods and refined vegetable oils. Deep frying and refining destroys Vitamin A both in the body and in foods. This kind of diet also compromises liver functions.
Vitamin A is essential for optimal immunity. The thymus, spleen, adrenals, and thyroid all need Vitamin A to function properly. Children are especially susceptible to Vitamin A deficiency. A child who is constantly catching every little bug that comes along probably needs more Vitamin A rich foods.
Vitamin A is also important for many functions in human tissues. If you have any of these symptoms, you may have a deficiency. This is not intended to diagnose a Vitamin A deficiency but just to bring awareness that you may need to include more vitamin-rich foods into your diet.
Weak or brittle nails
Dry scaly skin
Bumps on back of arms
Acne on back or shoulders
Here is a list of foods that are especially rich in Vitamin A. Include as many as you can in your diet!
Carrots, broccoli, salmon (wild) halibut, swordfish, oysters, crab, peaches, whole milk, dark leafy vegetables (i.e. Spinach, parsley, swiss chard), butter, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, tomato juice, liver, cod liver oil, asparagus, cantaloupe, and pumpkin.
Remember, variety and freshness are the keys to health and vitality. Avoid processed foods and enjoy what nature intended!
Next month I will start with the B-vitamins.
More About Nutrition:
LisaMetzgar, PhD,she received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition.
Lisa has taught body mind retreats in San Diego, Seattle, and Australia and currently has a practice in Reno, NV where she does nutrition counseling.Lisa's passion is to educate families about a healthy lifestyle.
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