Nutrients - they are the building blocks of all things. Nutrients are grouped in to 6 groups, and each nutrient has its own essential role. Some provide energy - the macro-nutrients or Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein.
Vitamins & minerals supports the body, to function, give shape, movement and energy.
By definitian, vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies use, in very small amounts, for a variety of metabolic processes. Translate this into every day words and we have - vitamins are naturally made chemicals that we use to make our body works. This may seem like a vague description, but you are very familiar with them. Vitamin B12, C, E, K, D Biotin, etc.
Vitamin levels and quality is dependent on the health of the plant, access of quality (plant) food, air, water, sunlight and nurture.
Minerals on the other hand are literally particles of matter that come off the periodic table - Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, etc. They are all essential in the body. The obvious is calcium, silicia, magnesium for bones, but you may not be aware, that Zinc, combined with protein, and Vit C is essential to create the collagen that keeps the bone strong and together.
Minerals are very much dependent on the quality of the soil; the amount of those minerals present where the plant is growing, the plan't health to absorb and package the minerals up. For instance, Magnesium is a bound with in the chlorophyll unit in the green parts of the plant.
If I was to list all the roles of the vitamins and minerals, it would be a text book length email. For a comprehensive look at what each of the micro-nutrients do.
Some Vitamins and minerals are best found in animal products such as Zinc, Iron, and B12. This is not to say that people who do not eat meat don't get enough, it means they need to be aware of the plant sources for these nutrients.
Other points of interest is Vit D. It is needed in the immune system as a regulator, healthy bones, Calcium absorption, caring and use in the body. It is created in the body when we are exposed to sunlight but with a few limiting requirements: our kidneys, liver, and gastric cells that manufacture the Vitamin must be working; we are to have at least 10 minutes of skin and eye exposure (no sunglasses) in summer and 30 minutes in winter. Australia is recorded to be one of the countries in the world with Vit D deficiency, yet we have more than enough sunlight. Why? We cover up, stay inside during working hours, wear sunglasses and may not have a healthy cell line to manufacture this critical vitamin. Could also be due to the obsession with low fat dairy products and avoidance of even healthy fats for decades.
On the upside, Vit D can also be absorbed from foods such as dairy products (full cream), meats, eggs as it is a fat soluble vitamin, it is carried and absorbed with fat molecules.
Deficiencies do occur, even in our very wealthy and food oversupply nation. It seems paradoxical , but it does occur. How? A few reasons.
I trust from this article, some of you will be thinking lets work towards not only choosing nutrient rich foods, but also support the gut to do its job, destress somewhat so that the gut can do its job. Consider probiotic - bacteria supplement and for some a general multi vitamin and mineral to help with the lag between low stores and what can be eaten/absorbed at the time.
Produce that is least processed will have the highest level of nutrients but one must still be aware of the limitations. Farmer's markets if possible, organic shops can be helpful, but also choosing foods that are naturally in season helps to ensure you are not only getting fresh produce, but also they are at their nutritional peak.
A dietitian with an interest in mind, body, skill development and empowering people to help themselves. After living a lifetime in the first 40, it is now time take it easier and let things be and help others get their their 'life'.
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