The Nuts & Bolts of Nutrients
By Claire Johnson
Society today is becoming more health conscious and looking to make smarter food choices. In an era when a lot of our food is highly processed and contains additives or preservatives – and possibly comes from overseas, it is hardly surprising that local farmers markets are growing in popularity due to the increased demand for fresh quality food.
There is grave concern that the food in local supermarkets is lacking in the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals – nutrients that are essential for optimum health. Then we are told that the way we cook foods can also destroy its nutrient content even further. Plus our soil is on par with a barren wasteland. This drives some people to worry that they’re becoming nutrient-deficient while others, not surprisingly, become confused about what is best.
So what is all the fuss about? Why do we need these nutrients? Well, vitamins and minerals are vital to make people's bodies work properly and keep them healthy. They boost the immune system, support normal growth and development. What’s more, they assist cells and organs to do their jobs.
For example, you've probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. It's true! Carrots are full of substances called ‘carotenoids’ that your body converts into vitamin A(1)which helps prevent eye problems(2). Vitamin K, which is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli and liver, helps blood to clot so cuts and scrapes stop bleeding quickly(3). To have strong bones, you need to eat foods such as milk, yoghurt and green leafy vegetables, which are rich in the mineral calcium.
Vitamins fall into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K dissolve in fat and can be stored in your body(3). The water-soluble vitamins C and the B-complex vitamins (such as vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate) use the water in your intestinal tract to be absorbed into the blood stream(3). Because the body only stores a small amount of these vitamins you need a fresh supply each day.
Vitamins are organic substances made by plants or animals, whilst minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water(4). These are either absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. Your body needs larger amounts of some minerals, such as calcium, to grow and stay healthy. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc are called ‘trace minerals’ because you only need very small amounts of them each day(3).
Certain foods complement each other and when eaten together greatly enhance the absorption of their nutrients. To really boost your energy, vitality and wellness check out these superfood pairings:
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Source Url: http://www.oxygenmag.com.au/Nutrition/tabid/620/entryid/1666/The-Nuts-Bolts-of-Nutrients.aspx