Category Archives: Vitamins

For Bone Health, Increase Your Level Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine” vitamin and is essential for keeping bones strong and healthy. Now it appears that doses closer to 1,000 IU a day may be needed to ease bone loss in postmenopausal women according to a new study out of the UK. In fact, bone loss over a 12 month period dropped significantly in women who got a daily dose of vitamin D in the 1,000 IU range, but there were no such improvements at the 400 IU dose, or for those taking placebos each day.

The latest recommended daily amount for vitamin D is 600 IUs for those 1-70 years old, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The daily recommendation goes to 800 IUs per day for those over 71 years old. A safe blood level of vitamin D is 20 nanograms per milliliter (abbreviated nmol/L), which is typically achieved through daily exposure to the sun. A blood level over 50 nanograms per milliliter may bring unpleasant side effects.

The most natural way to get vitamin D is to simply expose your bare skin to sunlight for about half the time it would take you to burn without sunscreen. If you can’t (or choose not to) do this, you can use supplements as this nutrient isn’t a natural part of many foods – it’s pretty much impossible to get the amount your body needs just from what you eat. Supplements are a smart choice and they come in many forms; soft gels, capsules, tablets and even liquid in strengths from 50-100 international units (IU for short).

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Bone Health, Increase Your Level Of Vitamin D Continued…

The research on vitamin D levels was led by a team from Scotland’s University
of Aberdeen, and appears to support the Institute of Medicine’s choice to up
the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D from 400 IUs to 600 IUs for those
from one to 70 years old. But, the new work appears to agree with a 2007 editorial
by some respected researchers in the area that contends the best level of vitamin
D in the blood was at least 75 (nanograms per milliliter) nmol/L. To get levels
from 50 to 80 nmol/L, the daily dose of vitamin D is in the 1,700 IUs per day

The UK researchers recruited just over 300 postmenopausal white women who were from 60 to 70 years old to participate in their double blind placebo controlled study. The subjects were randomly assigned to get daily vitamin D supplements at either a dose of 400 IU or 1,000 IU or be given a placebo for one year. Data from the 265 subjects who finished the study showed that over the year the concentrations of vitamin D in the blood increased by an average of 31.6 nmol/L for the 400 IU group, 42.6 nmol/L for the 1,000 IU group. The placebo group had vitamin D levels drop to 4.1 nmol/L.

What’s more the loss of bone mineral density at the hip was tiny for the 1,000 IU taking group but for the others at the lower dose or placebo the losses were larger. There were no big changes in bone metabolism observed as part of the research.

The work appears in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

To your good health,

Good Omega-3s With Organic Milk

As you pour your next glass of milk, think about this. U.S. researchers, in the first large, nationwide study in this area, have found that organic milk has far higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, known to be good for your heart, than does milk that comes from conventionally tended dairy cows. The team was led by Washington State University scientist Charles Benbrook and saw that on average the organic milk had lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids while also having higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than did regular milk.

Having a high ratio of moega-6s to omega-3s has been associated with troublesome health problems like autoimmune disease, heart disease and cancer. But over the last century, our intake of omega-6 has risen dramatically, while omega-3 intake has fallen.

To be considered organic, cows producing milk for the USDA National Organic Program must take in at least 30% of their dry matter each day from pasture grasses and legumes, both naturally high in omega-3. Cows that provide milk to non-organic diaries eat diets of mostly corn, and this vegetable is naturally high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s.

The organic variety of milk used for the work had an average of 62% more omega-3 fatty acids than did regular milk. It also has 25% fewer of the more dangerous omega-6 type. The findings show us where we are today and how we might improve the fatty acid composition of milk and other dairy products.

The team, led by research professor Charles Benbrook from the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, examined 378 samples of both organic and conventionally tended milk that came from 14 processors located all across the U.S. over a period of 18 months. The regular milk was found to have an average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of 5.8. The average ratio for the organic samples was a far lower 2.3.

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Good Omega-3s With Organic Milk Continued…

The recent work, published in the journal PLOS One, confirms earlier research that found milk from cows eating an organic diet have less linoleic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids and more alpha linoleic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and the long chain omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid compared to cows that don’t have access to pasture.

The current study findings on the nutrient content of organic milk runs counter to work last year from Stanford that found little evidence that organic food might be better for us. Clearly the debate will go on, and experts continue to disagree on if omega-3s are better for you than omega-6 fatty acids.

An industry shift to organic milk production could bring better health for everyone, especially pregnant women, infants, young children and anyone with a high heart disease risk. The benefits would be best for those who avoid foods that have high levels of linoleic acid and increase the intake of dairy that’s more organic.

If we all did so, not only would we be taking in products that are better for us, but we’d also be supporting a very earth friendly form of agriculture that helps to ensure the health and future productivity of both the animals and the land.

To your good health,

Low Levels Of Vitamin B12 And Fracture Risk

While the news is often full of stories about women and bone health, this time we’re focusing on men and their bones. Most of our bones are surprisingly strong, able to stand up to hard impacts or forces without breaking – it’s only when the force is too strong, or there’s something wrong with the bone that a fracture happens. New research finds that low blood levels of B12 might just be linked to a higher risk of fractures in older men. An extensive study that appears in Osteoporosis International is part of a worldwide research project started by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The research includes 11,000 men in all.

In one portion of the project, a Swedish team examined 1,000 men who were of an average age of 75. They used a number of different methods to analyze the blood concentrations of a specific B vitamin, B12 as well as folate both found naturally in the foods we eat. B12 in meat, shellfish, milk, cheese and eggs and most people who eat a normal diet aren’t likely to become deficient in the nutrient unless the body can’t absorb B12 from food. Strict vegetarians are most at risk of not having enough and may need supplements.

Catharina Lewerin of the University of Gothenburg led this portion of the study, and reports the risk of a break six years out from the study start was higher for men who had low B12 levels than for men who had normal B12 levels. The team used a new method (holotranscobalamin is the scientific term) that measures the amount of vitamin in the cells of the body, a far more accurate way to diagnose B12 deficiency.

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Low Levels Of Vitamin B12 And Fracture Risk Continued…

During the study follow up, 110 men had a fracture verified by X ray, this number includes 45 who had clinical vertebral breaks. Risk of a break was raised for every standard deviation drop in cobalamins and holoTC. In fact, in the bottom quarter of men with the lowest B12 in the blood, the risk of breaks was raised by almost 70% when compared to others. The risk was especially great for fractures that happened in the lumbar region, the increase was an astonishing 120%.

The higher risk of fractures remained even after accounting for other facts that contribute to risk. Things like age, smoking status, BMI, bone mineral density, earlier fractures, activity level, the D-vitamin content in the blood and the amount of calcium subjects consumed.

So, can older men prevent fractures by taking in more B12? Though not an established fact now, research to confirm this idea is already being done. This includes a large Dutch study where older people over 65 are being treated with vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin D to see if these substances impact the risk of fractures in this population.

If you are healthy and eating right, there’s no reason for you to take in more B12. But for those who have confirmed deficiencies (or at risk for deficiency) it might be a smart idea to get more B12 by eating foods rich in this nutrient (meat, shellfish, milk, cheese, eggs). If you are concerned about bone health, or think your B12 might be on the low side, talk with your doctor about supplements. And as always, stay informed and be your own advocate.

To your good health,

The Veg With Many Health Benefits

Carrots are considered one of the best foods you can eat, healthy, crunchy and naturally tasty. Purple, yellow, red and white carrots were cultivated long before the now popular orange variety that didn’t come to be grown until the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, carrots are worth an estimated $300 million a year to growers in the United States, with more than half grown in California. A medium carrot or a half cup of chopped carrots is what’s considered a standard serving, providing 25 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugars and 1 gram of protein.

Carrots bring you a full 30% of the vitamin A in the U.S. diet, while also being a source of vitamin C, calcium and iron, as well as the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is responsible for the wonderful orange color. The human body converts beta-carotene in to vitamin A, taking only as much as it needs. This vitamin is essential for healthy skin and mucus membranes, strong immunity and healthy eyes. A carrot is also a natural source of fiber, vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc.

The idea of carrots being good for your eyes traces it’s roots to Word War II and the British Royal Air Force ad campaign that said the secret to the sharp vision of fighter pilots was that they ate carrots. The idea took root and is still widely repeated today, though the benefits to the body of eating carrots go way beyond healthy eyes. Experts now understand that unless you have a vitamin A deficiency, eating carrots will not result in any positive changes in vision.

There is an amazing amount of evidence that carrots help regulate blood sugar, delay aging and help boost the functioning of your immune system. Cancers of the lung and colon, prostate, or the blood cancer leukemia as well as cardiovascular disease are just some of the diseases that might also be prevented by eating antioxidant rich fruits and veggies, including carrots.

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The Veg With Many Health Benefits Continued…

So how do you get more carrots into your diet? You can eat them raw, steamed
(both offer the most in terms of nutrient punch), boiled, roasted and as a part
of recipes for soups or stews. Carrot sticks and baby carrots are a delicious,
healthy snack and are great with dips and hummus. They are a popular choice to
juice because of their sweet, pleasing flavor.

Carrots are available fresh, frozen, canned or pickled, and can be found in the market year round, as well as at farm stands in either the spring and fall.

To store carrots, place them in a sealed plastic bag, removing the greens that may still be attached. Peel and wash them before eating or cooking. Shredded carrots can be used in coleslaw or in a salad or wrap, because of their sweet flavor they work great as a part of baked goods like as cakes and muffins.

Overconsumption of vitamin A, the chief nutrient in carrots, can be toxic to people, but it’s unlikely to be achieved by just eating carrots. Supplements are typically the source of such problems and should never be taken in higher than recommended doses. If you eat too many carrots, your skin may have a slight orange tinge, but there is no other harm done to the body.

To your good health,

Nuts: Best Food For Nutrients And Vitamins Intake

Nuts are so much more than just a topping on a desert, or an unobtrusive snack. Nuts may hold the secret to living longer and healthier according to experts. New research, a two decades long study involving over 119,000 subjects, has found that those who regularly eat peanuts live longer than those who don’t, even after taking other things into account. Nuts may be as close to a “superfood” as you can get, though many experts shy away from the term, preferring to focus instead on variety of healthy foods as part of an overall balanced diet.

Superfood gives the impression that you can eat only this food and be well. That’s just not the case, but nuts are a good for you option that you might want to try.

Nuts are a natural source of cancer fighting antioxidants and also have lots of essential minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium and manganese. They are an exceptional way to get vitamin B and E, plus those heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And while nuts are fatty, it’s mostly “good” fats that in moderation can cut the risk of stroke and heart disease. What’s more, all the fiber that’s in nuts helps fill you up.

The most recent study on nuts, appearing in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that those who had a snack of nuts seven times a week were a fifth less apt to die during the study period. For subjects who ate nuts only once a week, the drop in mortality rates was 7%, not too bad. These figures held even if the subject didn’t exercise, didn’t eat fruits and veggies and was overweight.

If you were to choose just one nut, almonds would be the one to go with. They are the top source of protein of all the nuts, have lots of fiber and vitamin E, calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, niacin and copper. But, almonds are high in calories (second to macadamias) so if you’re watching your weight, limit your portion to 20 to 25 nuts in a single serving,

Here’s what you should know about the other types of nuts…

Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium and magnesium, as well as protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamin E. They may be helpful to those with thyroid disease, but discuss adding them to your diet with your doctor before doing so.

Cashews are particularly rich in both iron and zinc, but they also bring you plenty of protein, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E and omega-3s.

Hazelnuts are a flavorful source of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin E.

Macadamia nuts are one of the most fattening nuts, but are a natural source of fiber, iron, niacin, a superb source of omega-3s as well as calcium and potassium. Some digestions struggle with the richness, so eat in moderation, no more than 9 or 10 in one serving.

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Nuts: Best Food For High Nutrients And Vitamins Intake Continued…

Peanuts are an excellent source of protein as well as having plenty of fiber, iron, potassium, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin E and niacin and are by far the most popular of the nuts. Plus, they have the same levels of antioxidants as what’s in strawberries, so they are incredibly good for you. Just don’t eat them covered in salt.

Pecans are loaded with sterols (known to help bring down cholesterol levels) so they win out as one of the most heart healthy nuts, as well as being a great source of fiber, zinc and vitamin E.

Pistachios give you plenty of potassium and vitamin B6 as well as being good sources of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, thiamin, and vitamin E. A single pistachio has 4 calories so moderation is key here.

Walnuts are your best source of disease fighting antioxidants and also packed full of fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, folate and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help protect against both stroke and heart disease.

As you can see, each of the different types of nuts brings its own benefits. Some are higher in vitamins, others have more omega-3s, so it’s best to try and eat a regular portion (about the size of a golf ball, or 30g) of mixed nuts. Be sure to choose unprocessed nuts, not those loaded with salt or dry roasted.

Remember too that along with all the good things, nuts do have lots of calories.

To your good health,

Should We Take Vitamin Supplements ?

Ever wonder about taking a supplement? You’ve been told to take that calcium supplement to help protect against osteoporosis, and yet the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has examined many studies and finds that regular doses of vitamin D (400 IU) and calcium (1,000 milligrams) doesn’t appear to prevent fractures in women after menopause who have healthy bones. What’s more, taking these supplements may raise the risk of kidney stones.

The new recommendations don’t apply to the 30% of women who have osteoporosis. They also don’t apply to anyone with low vitamin D levels or who is prone to falls. There wasn’t enough evidence to say if supplements would be helpful to men or younger women.

The findings on calcium come on the heels of two recent studies that found men and women who had high calcium levels due to supplements were more likely to die of heart disease then those who got their calcium from diet alone or who got less calcium overall. This makes calcium the latest supplement to struggle a bit when under scientific examination as other work has questioned the benefits of supplements everyone seems to be taking, things like fish oil and beta-carotene.

There’s ample research that eating fish that’s naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids brings down the risk of heart attack and stroke. The evidence on fish oil supplements is rather mixed. A large review published in 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those taking fish oil pills didn’t have lower rates of stroke, heart attack or death compared to those who took a placebo.

Natural sources of beta-carotene include leafy greens as well as orange/yellow veggies have been associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease; but the supplements don’t give these benefits to healthy adults and actually raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers and those exposed to asbestos.

So should you stop taking supplements altogether?

The experts are divided, and continue to suggest that some people take supplements, depending upon individual nutritional needs. It may be that the risks appearing in the latest batch of studies don’t apply to everyone. Certainly women planning a pregnancy should be getting at least 400 micrograms of folic acid from either fortified foods or supplements. This nutrient has been conclusively shown to prevent birth defects of the spine and brain, as well as reduce the risks of autism.

Supporting the connection between folic acid and autism is some research in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found women who started taking folic acid at least a month before conception and continued for the first 8 weeks of the pregnancy had a 40% lower risk of having an autistic child than those who didn’t take folic acid. That’s important news.

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Should We Take Vitamin Supplements ? Continued…

There’s also a case to be made for vitamin B12, known to help your body make
red blood cells, as well as assisting nerve and brain function are a natural
part of the protein in animal products. Young adults usually get enough of this
nutrient by eating meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk and fortified cereals; while
older people lose the natural ability to separate B12 from protein, which can
bring on a deficiency. The Institute of Medicine suggests that adults over 50
take B12 supplements, as they are easier to absorb.

In all the talk about supplements versus natural food sources, there are two messages people need to get, loud and clear, says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian who stays current on the latest research for the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

1. Whole foods top pills just about every time. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing when she puts foods together, and the combinations and biologically active compounds have consistently shown themselves to be better for the body.

2. More isn’t better, that is, taking individual supplements at higher doses than recommended can get you into trouble, cause uncomfortable side effects and unintended harmful consequences to the body.

To your good health,

Good Level Of Vitamin D in Mushrooms

If you take supplements for vitamin D, you’ll want to read this. A team from Boston University School of Medicine has found that eating mushrooms with vitamin D2 is just as effective at raising (and maintaining) vitamin D levels as taking a supplement of vitamin D2 or D3. The findings were presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and published earlier in 2013 in the open access journal Dermato-Endocrinology.

Normally, most of us get our vitamin D from sunscreen free exposure to natural sunlight. About 20 to 25 minutes a day is good. If you’re worried about skin cancer, get out before the heat of the day (10:00 am) or after (2:00 pm) it has passed. Trouble is, this natural process is not as effective for those living at higher latitudes, in the winter or if you’re dark skinned or a bit older. If this is the case, supplements are often a good choice.

In the randomized study, 30 healthy adult subjects took capsules with 2,000 IUs of vitamin D2, 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 or 2,000 IUs of mushroom powder once a day for 12 weeks, during the winter, the time of year when it’s naturally harder to get out in the sun to make vitamin D. All the subjects had baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D measured, and levels weren’t all that different between the study groups.

At the end of the 12-week study, the levels of vitamin D for the three groups were not statistically different from those who took the mushroom powder capsules. This finding suggests that enjoying mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light so they have vitamin D2 brings you a natural source of vitamin D that can improve the levels of this nutrient in healthy adults. So taking the mushroom powder was just as effective as taking a supplement.

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Good Level Of Vitamin D in Mushrooms Continued…

You’ve heard that vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and strong muscles. Having enough of this nutrient helps the body keep bones dense and thus reducing the chance of fractures, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Vitamin D also plays a big part in moderating the immune system and is thought to help reduce the risks of diseases like cancer, heart disease diabetes, and perhaps even mood issues like depression.

Now that we know mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, experts are also able to explain just how mushrooms make vitamin D2. At a second presentation at the same annual meeting, researchers explained that the process is almost like what happens in human skin after being out in the sun. What’s more, mushrooms can make both vitamin D2 and vitamin D4; confirming the finding of several kinds of vitamin Ds and provitamin Ds in the samples.

With results being presented at a scientific meeting and appearing in a journal, the team feels that people can be assured that mushrooms are a good natural source of vitamin D that can be readily found at the grocery store and easily added to many of the foods you already love.

Michael F. Holick, the principal investigator on the project believes these results confirm what other studies have shown us. There are many ways to increase total circulating vitamin D, taking supplements is just one of them.

To your good health,

Top Essential Vitamins And Minerals (Part 2 )

Welcome to part two of our series on essential vitamins and nutrients. We all know that a healthy, balanced diet gives your body all the resources it needs to grow, to fight infection and function at peak efficiency. Our two part series is here to help you understand more about these essential vitamins – what they do and where do you get them.

Here’s part 2 on the top 20 essential nutrients, again in alphabetical order, for your information.

11. Flavonoids

This group of nutrients adds to the power of vitamin C, and act as anti-inflammatories. Together they’re believed to protect against some very serious disease. They’re found most especially in berries and other fruits, dried beans and grains.

12. Folic Acid

This much discussed nutrient promotes the development of red blood cells and it’s also important for the healthy development of unborn babies in the first 12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. This is why doctors want women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy to take a 400mg supplement until the end of that first three months. Dietary sources include fortified breakfast cereals, dark leafy green veggies, pulses and liver (except in pregnancy).

13. Iodine

An unexpected addition, this nutrient supports the workings of the thyroid gland that keeps cells and the body’s metabolic rate in the healthy range. You find it in shellfish, sea fish and in the cow’s milk of grass-fed cows.

14. Iron

A nutrient that’s key for the healthy production of the hemoglobin that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Found in red meat, particularly liver, those dark leafy veggies, beans, nuts, dried fruit, soybean flour, tofu, whole grains and some fortified breads/cereals. If you ingest vitamin C at the same time, this helps the body absorb iron better.

15. Vitamin K

This key nutrient naturally helps blood clot properly and is a part of leafy green veggies, cereals and vegetable oils.

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Top Essential Vitamins And Minerals (Part 2 ) Continued…

16. Magnesium

A mineral that’s key to bone health, good circulation and muscle relaxation. It’s a part of nuts, seeds, soybeans, baked beans, pulses, dark leafy green veggies, breakfast cereals, fish, meat, whole meal bread, milk and dried apricots.

17. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Not only do these nutrients improve your heart health, they also bring down triglycerides in the blood, lowering those overall cholesterol numbers. They are a part of oily fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon) as well as mussels, cod, swordfish and shark, flaxseeds and walnuts.

18. Potassium

This is an often overlooked nutrient that’s vital for muscle and nerve function, for keeping the chemical balance in the body, regulating body fluids and blood pressure. It’s naturally a part of sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, kidney beans, bread, shellfish, nuts, seeds, raw fruit and veggies, dried herbs, jacket potatoes, yeast extract, clams, whelks and dark chocolate.

19. Selenium

This essential mineral helps to guard against the damage caused by free radicals, while also promoting the healthy growth of tissues and cells, and strengthening the immune system. You find it in Brazil nuts, chicken, oily fish and eggs.

20. Zinc

The last of the nutrients has a key job, promoting a healthy immune system, making new cells and enzymes, encouraging the digestive system to break down foods. It is a part of shellfish, red meat, turkey, seeds, milk, bread and cereals.

There you have it – the basics on all the essential vitamins and minerals that should be a part of your healthy diet.

To your good health,

Top Essential Vitamins (Part 1)

You know that a healthy, balanced diet is one of the keys to good health as it gives your body all the resources it needs to grow, to fight infection and function at peak efficiency. But do you know which vitamins and minerals are the most important? And where to get them?

We’ve collected details on the top 20 essential nutrients and present them here, in alphabetical order even), for your information.

1. Vitamin A

Though it sounds like one thing, vitamin A is the term used for a whole group of nutrients, some from animal products (retinoids) and others from plants (carotenoids). These substances bring a lot of different benefits but are most known for good vision. Retinoids also play a part in helping the workings of the immune system, promoting the development of bones, growth and reproduction including creating sperm and red blood cells.

Retinoids are naturally part of cheese, shrimp, salmon, halibut, cows’ and goats’ milk. Carotenoids are found in sweet potatoes, carrots, greens, squash, peppers, tomatoes, leeks, watermelon and other brightly colored fruits and veggies.

2. Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

This nutrient assists the body in converting food to energy and also coordinates the nerves and muscles and is good for your heart. It’s found in whole grains, flax seeds, spinach, tuna, beans, lentils, asparagus and some fortified cereals.

3. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Needed especially for cell protection and the healthy working of the nervous system, skin and eyes, while also helping the body keep the supply up of other B vitamins. A rich source of B2 is venison, while others include soybeans, yogurt, milk, almonds, mushrooms, spinach, fortified cereals and eggs.

4. Vitamin B3 (niacin)

A vital nutrient that’s key to blood/glucose control and bringing down cholesterol levels, while also helping your body produce energy from what you eat and keeping both the nervous and digestive systems healthy and going strong. Get this nutrient in salmon, sardines, chicken, tuna, turkey, venison, lamb, spelt, breakfast cereals, whole meal bread, grass fed beef and milk.

5. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

This is a key nutrient that helps the body naturally cope with stress by supporting the adrenal glands, while also assisting in the conversion of carbs and fats into energy. You find it in peas, beans, lentils, nuts, tomatoes, eggs, whole grains, bananas, avocados, yogurt, shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower, porridge and sweet potatoes.

Continues below…

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Top Essential Vitamins (Part 1) Continued…

6. Vitamin B6

Supports the nervous system while also helping sugars/starches to break down during the digestive process. It also assists with the formation of hemoglobin that’s needed to carry oxygen through the body. It’s naturally part of tuna, pork, poultry, venison, cod and halibut, and also bananas, milk, potatoes, sunflower seeds, soya beans, peanuts, mangoes and wheat germ.

7. Vitamin C

This nutrient is critical for the efficient operation of the immune system and for your body’s ability to absorb iron, as well as the maintenance of healthy connective tissue. It’s also known to give you healthy skin, bones and teeth and is found most in kiwis and citrus fruits, but also in peppers, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple and many other brightly colored fruits and veggies.

8. Calcium

You know this one, important for bone health/structure and for balancing your metabolism as well as helping blood to clot, regulating the heartbeat and contractions of other muscles. You find it in milk, cheese and other dairy items as well as green, leafy veggies, fruits, soya beans, tofu, sardines and other canned fish with bones.

9. Vitamin D

The “sunshine” vitamin promotes a wide range of healthy functions in the body, including bone health. The trouble is, most of us don’t get enough from dietary sources, and the body doesn’t keep extra around, so you need to get outside (even on a cloudy day) for 20 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight. The few dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs, dairy, fortified breakfast cereals and oily fish.

10. Vitamin E

This most beneficial of nutrients offers natural protection to the skin from UV rays while helping prevent cell damage. It’s a part of nuts, seeds, olive oil, wheat germ, butter and margarine, spinach, avocados and asparagus.

You’ll learn about additional essential nutrients in part 2 ofo ur series on vitamins and minerals.

To your good health,

Detect Signs Of Nutrient Deficiency

Our bodies are amazing… they can sometimes tell us when something’s wrong before a doctor can confirm it with tests. If you start to see a change in your own body… in your hair, your nails, your skin or even your energy level… this could be a signal from your body that a vital nutrient is missing from your diet.

Some of the signs your body might give you…

Unhealthy looking nails

Healthy strong nails are a sign of good overall health and strong immunity. What you don’t want to see on nail surfaces are white spots (injury), raised ridges, an inward curve or nails that otherwise look less than healthy. Most often unhealthy looking nails are a sign you need iron (not zinc, that’s a popular myth) so try to include as many natural sources of iron (red meat, fish, poultry, lentils and beans) as you can in your diet.

Interesting that you’re not alone, according to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the leading nutritional disorder the world over.

Leg cramps at night

Cramps in your legs or calves at night are a sign that you’re lacking potassium, and essential nutrient. This can happen easily if you’re exercising hard during the day, losing both fluid and electrolytes and only replacing the fluid. Rehydrate with electrolyte rich drinks or try some potassium rich foods like bananas, spinach, broccoli or grapefruit.

And while healthy adults should get enough potassium from food sources, often we don’t. Your doctor may recommend a potassium supplement, or you might try upping natural sources for a time and see if this helps.

Numb hands or feet

If you feel like your hands (or feet) go numb or you get tingling or a prickling feeling in your limbs this can signal a low intake of B vitamins like B6 or B12 and folic acid. Deficiencies of B vitamins directly impact the peripheral nerve endings on the skin’s surface. You’ll want to eat lots of dark leafy greens like spinach and lean proteins like eggs, beans and poultry. Fortified whole grains are good too.

Again, deficiencies of this nutrient are surprisingly common, with about 15% of the general population affected by a deficiency.

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Detect Signs Of Nutrient Deficiency Continued…


Small red or white acne like bumps on your skin (face, arms, even thighs) can signal a vitamin A deficiency. This nutrient helps to remove dead skin and unclogs pores to discourage the growth of acne bacteria. Veggies or other foods rich in beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) are key here.

Sadly vitamin A deficiency is a problem for more than half of all nations, especially in Africa and South-East Asia.

It’s important to realize that if you are deficient in one nutrient, based on your body signals, you are likely lacking others as well. It’s hard to believe that with the abundance of food in the developed world that nutrient deficiencies happen at all, but as you see, they are surprisingly common. Once you take steps to address them, you’ll be feeling and looking better than ever – a signal from your body that all is well.

To your good health,