When clients work with me in Calgary, Canada, we often talk about the importance of healthy eating and getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best. I provide a quick idea of how to ensure a better diet and that’s by making your plate a rainbow of colors. That’s right. The more colorful your plate, the more apt you are to get all the nutrients you need, but the color has to come from fruits and vegetables, not jelly beans or Skittles. Each color represents high amounts of both vitamins and phytonutrients. Now add to that plate a source of healthy protein, dairy and some whole wheat carbs and you’ll be set.
Choose vitamins from both water soluble and fat soluble categories.
Water soluble vitamins are absorbed by the body in whatever amount it needs. Any excess is flushed out in the urine. Excess fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fat tissues and liver. Fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, K and E. Water soluble vitamins are all the rest, which include vitamin C and the eight vitamin Bs—B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. All of these are important, but let’s start with the water soluble vitamins first. B vitamins are important building blocks of the body. They affect your brain function, energy level, cell metabolism, immune system and cell health. They are also necessary for the growth of healthy red blood cells. Vitamin C helps prevent cell damage, since it’s an antioxidant, and boosts the immune system.
Fat soluble vitamins are also important to the body.
You might be surprised to find that vitamin A isn’t really one vitamin, but several retinoid compounds. Sometimes, the food contains a compound the body uses directly, which is considered vitamin A. Other times, the body has to convert it to use it as vitamin A, like carotenoids. All types of vitamin A support the immune system and vision. Vitamin D is also a group of compounds. There are two types. D-2 from animal fat and D-3 from plants. It supports bone and dental health as well as the immune system. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that also boosts the immune system, dilates blood vessels and prevents blood clotting. There are two types of vitamin K, K1 and K2. K1 is important to bone and dental health, blood clotting and blood calcium levels. K2 is also good for those and heart health.
Minerals are divided into two groups, trace minerals and macro minerals.
Your body requires varying amounts of each mineral. For macro minerals, they need a lot and for trace minerals, very little. Each mineral has many different roles. Here are just a few. Calcium and manganese are important for strong bones and healthy teeth. Iron transports oxygen throughout the body. Potassium keeps the muscles and nerves functioning properly. Zinc boosts the immune system and helps cells growth. Sodium lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack. Chloride balances the fluids in cells. Magnesium is necessary for heart health. Iodine is good for thyroid functioning. Chromium enhances insulin sensitivity. Copper works with iron for health red blood cells. Fluoride aids dental health and selenium boosts the immune system.
- Two of the sources of vitamin B-1 are ham and acorn squash. B2 is in dairy. Fish and poultry are two sources of B3. Chicken and broccoli contain B5 and meat and fish contain B6. You’ll find B7 in eggs and B9 in asparagus and spinach. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit and red bell peppers.
- An example of a food containing fat soluble vitamin A is carrots, eggs and shrimp. Vitamin D is in fatty fish and comes from exposure to the sun. Vitamin E is in leafy greens and vitamin K is in cabbage, broccoli and kale.
- Calcium is found in dairy products. Chloride is found in salt, just as sodium is. Spinach contains both calcium and magnesium. Potassium, iron, zinc and chromium are in meat. Manganese and copper are in nuts, while selenium just in walnuts. Fluoride is in fish and iodine is in seafood.
- Eating a wide variety of healthy foods and eliminating processed or sugary ones is the best way to ensure you have enough in your diet.
For more information, contact us today at Jari Love