Today, we are so bombarded with so much information that it is sometimes difficult to decipher fact from fiction. In terms of our health, vitality and well-being – someone may say that a particular food/vitamin is good for your while someone else tells you that it is not. Who do we believe, who do we trust? We trust ourselves and we should trust what our bodies tell us. Your body generally tells you which foods agree with you and which others don’t – you may feel sick to your stomach, have bloating, have cramps, get diarrhea or vomit from certain foods. When/if this happens you must take notice of what you have eaten…..you may want to start a food journal by writing the date, time and what you have eaten – you may even want to write down how you felt after eating those specific foods. This will allow you to get more information about what is good for YOUR body as we all process foods differently – what you may enjoy eating may have a complete different effect on someone else and what someone else may like, may not agree with you. Trust yourself and trust your body.
Another topic that has contradicting statements from various resources is the topic of vitamins. What should vitamins should we be taking? Do women need more of certain vitamins that men? Do vegetarians/vegans get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet? Are children receiving the proper vitamins and minerals than children born of other generations? Is pesticide usage affecting the vitamins and minerals that are food have?
Here is some information about vitamins written by Dr. Tamer Shaban. Dr. Tamer Shaban is Vice Chairman of International Cupping Society (UK), M.B.B.CH, D.H.P., D.C.M.T, S.N.N.S Dip. (Nutrition), S.N.H.S Dip. (Herbalism), Member of the Royal Institute of Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, Member of the Complete Mind Therapists Association.
The word “Vitamin” is composed of two parts: “vital” which means essential and “amine” because it was previously thought that this compound was amine in its nature. Multivitamins are a mixture of vitamins and minerals which are essential for the body to work and stay healthy.
We sometimes try multivitamin supplements without knowing what kind of vitamins and minerals we need to take, and the functions of every element and how it affects our body. This will be covered in this article.
THE ESSENTIAL VITAMINS
There are two types of vitamins, fat soluble vitamins (vitamins which dissolve in fat) which are vitamins A, D, E and K, and water soluble vitamins which are B-complex, C, And folate (folic acid).
The Functions of Fat Soluble Vitamins:
1. Vitamin A – Growth, development, enhancement of our immune system, this vitamin is essential for our eyesight, especially night vision.
*Deficiency Signs – Night blindness, skin problems with an increase in the rate of acquiring infections.
**Natural Sources – Liver, kidney, eggs and fish liver oil For Vegetarians/Vegans – Fish-free Omega 3s Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart, brain, skin and joint health. Fortunately, you can get them without all the cholesterol and toxins found in fish. Flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil are good vegan sources of the omega-3 ALA. It’s also a good idea to take vegan DHA capsules, which contain omega-3s derived from algae (where the fish get it from!).
2. Vitamin D – This is important for bone formation, it works by controlling calcium absorption and excretion. Recent studies show that vitamin D inhibits some forms of cancer growth.
*Deficiency Signs – Rickets (disease characterized by deformities in the skeleton — especially hands, legs and chest bones, and pain in the bones and muscle weakness).
**Natural Sources – Cod liver oil, milk, eggs, liver and oily fish For Vegetarians/Vegans Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin, Sunshine is one of the best sources of Vitamin D. During warmer months, your skin should manufacture enough of the vitamin if your face and forearms are exposed without sunscreen to midday sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes per day. But many students and people who work indoors don’t get enough exposure. And in many areas, sunlight during colder and cloudier months isn’t strong enough to give you a sufficient dose of vitamin D. Many brands of non-dairy milks contain some calcium and vitamin D, as do some brands of fortified orange juice. But doctors increasingly say that no matter what you eat, it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement of at least 1,000 IU on the days that you aren’t getting sufficient sunlight exposure.
3. Vitamin E – It works as an antioxidant (protects our tissues from free-radical damage) and has other functions such as improving blood circulation and removing wound scars.
*Deficiency Signs – None reported.
**Natural Sources – Wheat germ oil, almonds, sun flower oil and peanuts.
4. Vitamin K – Its major function is its role in the blood coagulation process which prevents our body from bleeding to death.
*Deficiency Signs – Excessive bleeding or poor blood coagulation action.
**Natural Sources – Spinach, broccoli, eggs and meat. For Vegetarians/Vegans Spinach is rich in iron, so eat it heartily to build strong muscles. Other iron-rich foods include beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, oatmeal, dried fruits, nuts, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, molasses, and grains such as quinoa and millet.
The Functions of Fat Soluble Vitamins:
1. Vitamin C – It plays a vital role in the formation of several enzymes, absorption of iron, antioxidant function, formation of collagen (which leads to healthy skin and joints) and wound healing.
*Deficiency Signs – Scurvy (a disease characterized by bleeding from the gums, bleeding from the skin, fatigue and delayed wound healing)
**Natural Sources – Kiwi and citrus fruits, guava, mango and broccoli.
2. Vitamin B complex – A complex of vitamins that total more than ten individual nutrients; the most essential being B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine) and B12 (Cyanocobalamin). These vitamins play an important role in the body’s energy production, nervous system, immune system, and iron absorption.
*Deficiency Signs – Vitamin B12 anemia (a disease characterized by fatigue, pallor, an increased heart beat rate and lack of energy). Some other signs include emotional disturbance, skin disease, tongue inflammation and hair loss.
**Natural Sources – Meat, liver, milk, yeast and its products, nuts and whole grain cereals For Vegetarians/Vegans Leading health experts encourage everyone to tak a multivitamin or supplement to get ample amounts of vitamin B12. It’s also found in fortified nutritional yeast, some supermarket cereals, and fortified soy and rice milk as well as in some meat analogues.
3. Folic acid – Essential in the formation of RNA and DNA.
*Deficiency Signs – Megaloblastic anemia (a disease characterized by fatigue, pallor, increased heart beat rate and lack of energy) and possible infertility.
**Natural Sources – Spinach, brussel sprouts, green beans and cauliflower.
THE ESSENTIAL MINERALS
The minerals are classified into three parts: macro, trace, and ultra trace minerals. The essential minerals which we need to be healthy are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, and fluorine. The essential trace elements are copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iodine.
The Functions of the Most Important Essential Minerals:
1. Calcium – Plays an important role in bone and teeth formation and nervous system health.
*Deficiency Signs – Leads to stunted growth, increased rate of bone fractures and nervous system problems.
**Natural Sources – Milk For Vegetarians/Vegans Cows don’t have to suffer in order for people to get calcium. It’s abundant in collard greens, kale, broccoli, beans, sesame tahini, and almonds. It can also be found in calcium-fortified soy or rice milk, orange juice, and some brands of tofu.
2. Iron – Plays an important role in red blood cell formation.
*Deficiency Signs – Leads to iron deficiency anemia which is characterized by fatigue, pallor, concave nails with white lines and an increased heart beat rate.
**Natural Sources – Eggs, meat, liver and fish For Vegetarians/Vegans dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron. Vegetarians do not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than do meat eaters.
3. Zinc – Essential for growth and development, enhances immune function and wound healing, increases fertility.
*Deficiency Signs – Leads to skin inflammation, hair loss, sore throat, delayed growth and diarrhea.
**Natural Sources – Meat, vegetables with leaves, whole grains, milk and eggs For Vegetarians/Vegans The best, common plant sources of zinc are legumes, nuts, seeds, and oatmeal.
The Functions of the Most Important Essential Trace Minerals:
1. Iodine – This is essential for growth and development because it is the compound of thyroid hormones.
*Deficiency Signs – goiter (a disease characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland and decreased heart beat rate).
**Natural Sources – Milk, sea fish, and iodized salt For Vegetarians/Vegans North American vegans should take a modest iodine supplement; 75-150 µg every day or every other day should be enough. Vegan iodine supplements can be found in most grocery or natural food stores, and most multivitamins contain iodine. In the United States, you can get the extra 75 µg of iodine from 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt. If you are already eating 1/4 teaspoon of salt per day on your foods, make sure it is iodized.
2. Chromium – Assists in glucose utilization by enhancement of insulin action.
*Deficiency – Weight loss and an inability to tolerate glucose.
**Natural Sources – Meat, Whole grains and nuts For Vegetarians/Vegans DITCH THE MEAT!
We all know that vegan foods are far healthier than animal products. They’re cholesterol-free, and they’re more likely to be low in saturated fat and calories and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and cancer-fighting antioxidants. (Minus the vegan cookies, candy and potato chips). If you want to reap the health benefits of a vegan diet – a slim waistline, normal blood pressure, lots of energy, and a reduced risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer – you should eat an array of fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, and other wholesome plant-based foods. Your health and the planets animals will thank you!
Together we can make the world a more positive one.