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Vitamins and Minerals
A Brief History
The following chapter on vitamins and minerals will look at the uses and actions of each individual item. The charts on page 69 list the positive functions and best sources of each vitamin and mineral. The recommended daily amount (RDA) is not listed for the reason that RDA’s are calculated by science and science is, well science. Not yet a true representation of how things really are. It is possible to receive vitamins and minerals through consuming the right amount of recommended foods. Supplementation is only useful in cases of severe deficiency. With an ideal living food and juice diet, it is possible to never be short of these nutrients. As we learn, it is often not a lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet but the lack of absorption that counts. The role of vitamins and minerals in the human body was only discovered last century, and 90% of these discoveries have been made since the 1940’s. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, so when a problem appears the solution will always follow.
In the past, there were fewer cases of vitamin or mineral deficiency. Food was locally produced and harvested on mineral rich soil, providing quality fruit for all local needs. At one time basic grains, milk and milk products, and plenty of fruit and vegetables were all we ate, supplying us with our basic needs.
Recently quantity has become more important than quality as technology has introduced methods of storing basic foods in obscene quantities. Through the use of chemical fertilisers and preservatives, it is possible to harvest more from one piece of land and store such produce for a year or more. This has led to international commodities that do not depend on what season or how many vitamins or minerals they contain, but on economic principles that are based on greed. Such systems are proving to be failing all over the world.
Most cereals have had 3/5ths of the vitamin and mineral content lost due to refining. 90% of the western world eat nothing but these refined, white flours from which all of the bran has been removed. This has led to a disastrous condition in which a large proportion of the population is deficient in some of the most important vitamins and minerals.
People continue to eat polished rice instead of brown rice. The same large companies that feed chemicals to the earth, also encourage us to consume their synthetically produced tablets and potions. It seems that we have entered a viscous circle. It is not for me to say this is right or wrong, however I feel strongly in the right to an educated choice; a choice to live the way we want to without ideals forced upon us by psychologically driven advertising through TV, shops and other forms of media. The following will explain more about some of the vitamins and minerals and how they affect our body. Alternatively, step back and acquire all the knowledge available in the 21st century – simply choose to eat organic foodstuffs and safely know you want to know more.
‘Most vitamin and mineral supplements for sale today are synthetic products or
crystallised extracts that use powerful chemical solvents and high temperature
distillation that kills any enzymes.’ Etc. …
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You can think of ATE as the great vitamin E equalizer. Not all eight forms of vitamin E are equal in their activity in the body, but the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) accounted for all eight and created the ATE to adjust for each form’s relative activity.
Research shows that the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E is the most active form of the eight. In fact, studies show that alpha-tocopherol is the only form of vitamin E that gets into the blood to do its antioxidant job.
So to account for this new information, the NAS now recommends alpha-tocopherol. The only glitch is that the vitamin E nutrient information on reference databases is measured in ATE. Food companies and the government have not yet updated their information to measure vitamin E in alpha-tocopherol.
Until then, we’ll continue to use mg ATE.
|Almonds, 1 oz (24 kernels) 7.5
Almond butter, 2 Tbsp 6.5
Wheat germ, 1 oz 5.1
Hazelnuts, 1 oz. (20 nuts) 4.4
Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp 3.2
Canola oil, 1 Tbsp 2.9
Peanuts, ¼ cup 2.7
Avocado, 1 cup 2.0
Olive oil, 1 Tbsp 1.7
Broccoli, ½ cup cooked 1.5
Italian dressing, 1 Tbsp 1.5
Blue cheese dressing, 1 Tbsp 1.4
Red bell pepper, 1 medium 1.1
Brown rice, ½ cup 0.7
Kiwifruit, 1 medium 0.9
|Mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp 0.6
Spinach, 1 cup raw 0.6
Raisin bran, 1 cup 0.6
Olives, 5 large 0.6
Apple, 1 medium 0.4
Banana, 1 medium 0.3
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 0.2
Sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp 0.2
Romaine lettuce, 1 cup 0.2
Chicken, white meat, 3 oz.0.2
Beef, ground, 3 oz. 0.2
Source: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard
Combine low-fat milk, honey and toasted slivered almonds in a blender for a vitamin E- packed smoothie. Brighten and give your fruit salad an E boost with sliced kiwi.
Top raisin bran cereal with chopped almonds or other nuts.
Stir a tablespoon or two of wheat germ into your favourite cooked cereal, such as oatmeal, or sprinkle wheat germ on top of whole grain, ready-to-eat cereals, including raisin bran.
Add chopped or slivered almonds to chicken salad, Waldorf salad and pasta salads. Toss together intensely-coloured assorted greens, such as baby spinach leaves, romaine lettuce and watercress, with sliced strawberries and diced red bell pepper, to create a salad. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Create a healthy nut butter sandwich with fruit. Start with whole grain bread and almond butter; add sliced banana or apple. Top steamed vegetables, such as asparagus, carrots and broccoli, with toasted slivered almonds or other nuts for extra taste and nutrition.
Whip up a crispy coating for chicken or fish. Mix equal parts of bread crumbs and finely chopped almonds. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper and the herbs you desire.
Create a Mediterranean E trio by combining roasted red bell peppers with pitted olives and olive oil, adding a touch of minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice for added sparkle. Boost the flavour of poultry stuffing with coarsely chopped whole hazelnuts, diced apples, onions, and garlic.
Give rice, couscous, barley or kasha a nutty flavour with chopped or slivered almonds.
For a quick guacamole, slice an avocado lengthwise. Remove the seed. Scoop out the avocado into a bowl. Mash with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Reinvent “Ants on a Log,” for snacks or party appetizers. Fill celery stalks with nut butter; top with dried cranberries or raisins.
Concoct a yoghurt parfait by layering low fat yoghurt with fruit and chopped almonds.
Top fat-free frozen yoghurt with slivered/chopped almonds.
When baking, add chopped nuts to cookie, muffin and other quick bread batters.
Toasting almonds intensifies their flavour. Spread whole, chopped or sliced almonds in a single layer in an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes in a 350º F oven, stirring once or twice. Remove from pan to cool.
Your cells are under a constant barrage from free radicals, unstable forms of oxygen that rove the body looking to make trouble. Free radicals are by-products of the normal, everyday workings of your body, but they can be lethal to cells by destroying the important fats in your body. You can’t escape free radicals, but you can limit their production by avoiding (as much as possible) smog and other air pollutants, cigarette smoke and strong sunlight (ultraviolet rays).
The Why’s and How’s of Vitamin E and Your Body
“Oxidative stress” is the term experts use to describe the havoc wreaked by free radicals. Vitamin E is one of the body’s best weapons against the oxidative stress your body faces every day.
Vitamin E sacrifices itself for the sake of your cells. By donating part of itself to a free radical, vitamin E turns an unruly, hostile compound into a harmless substance. That means that the free radical is no longer able to destroy the fatty portion of cell membranes and other fats found in your blood stream. Once vitamin E has given freely of itself in service to your cells, it is regenerated by several different substances, including vitamin C, and off it goes to defend and protect cells once again.
Speaking of defence, vitamin E is garnering a lot of attention for its ability to fend off oxidative damage to low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. That may seem strange to you. After all, why protect bad cholesterol? Because when LDLs are oxidized by free radicals, they become stickier and more likely to clog arteries, boosting the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Vitamin E may also prevent blood cells from sticking to each other and to the blood vessels they travel, helping to promote clear and flexible blood vessels that allow the passage of oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
There’s more. Reducing oxidative stress with vitamin E may be linked to heading off the complications of diabetes, to a reduced rate of aging, lowering cancer risk, boosting immunity and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) determined that there is not enough research to support levels of vitamin E intake above the recommended 15 milligrams. Therefore, despite vitamin E’s promise, the NAS does not support taking vitamin E supplements as a heart disease preventative for the general population, nor does the organization recommend supplements for the prevention of any other diseases or the control of chronic conditions.
The Top Form of Vitamin E Among the 8
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means the fat found in foods serves as the vehicle for vitamin E to get into your body to do its good work. It’s no surprise, then, that most dietary vitamin E is found in higher fat foods, such as vegetable oils and spreads, nuts and seeds.
There are eight forms of vitamin E, but one reigns supreme: alpha-tocopherol.
The other seven forms of vitamin E cannot meet the body’s vitamin E needs. In fact, alpha-tocopherol is so potent that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is based on the body’s requirement for alpha-tocopherol. Even the synthetic form of alpha-tocopherol, while beneficial, pales in comparison to naturally occurring alpha-tocopherol: Synthetic alpha-tocopherol is only half as effective in the body.
In foods, vitamin E is present in the eight different forms. Alpha-tocopherol is top dog when it comes to vitamin E. It’s the predominant form of vitamin E found in almonds, Canola, safflower, and olive oils, broccoli, red peppers, brown rice, kiwi fruit, spinach, olives, apples, and bananas, with smaller amounts in other foods.
A Primer on Fats and Oils Edited by the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionists,
a Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association
Fats occur naturally in food and play an important role in nutrition. Fats and oils provide a concentrated source of energy for the body. Fats are used to store energy in the body, insulate body tissues, and transport fat soluble vitamins through the blood. They also play an important role in food preparation by enhancing food flavor, adding mouth-feel, making baked products tender, and conducting heat during cooking.
Not All Fats and Oils Are Created Equally
Fats and oils are made up of basic units called fatty acids. Each type of fat or oil is a mixture of different fatty acids.
Saturated Fatty Acids are found chiefly in animal sources such as meat and poultry, whole or reduced-fat milk, and butter. Some vegetable oils like coconut, palm kernel oil, and palm oil are saturated. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids are found mainly in vegetable oils such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. They are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids are found mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, flaxseed, and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats are also the main fats found in seafood. They are liquid or soft at room temperature. Specific polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, are called essential fatty acids. They are necessary for cell structure and making hormones. Essential fatty acids must be obtained from foods we choose. Trans Fatty Acids are formed when vegetable oils are processed into margarine or shortening. Sources of trans fats in the diet include snack foods and baked goods made with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening.” Trans fatty acids also occur naturally in some animal products such as dairy products.
Cholesterol is Different
Blood (serum) cholesterol and dietary cholesterol are two different types of cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is found in food of animal origin such as egg yolks, organ meats, and full fat dairy products. Blood cholesterol is a waxy substance, which occurs naturally in our body. It is used to make estrogen and testosterone, and bile, which is needed for digestion. But if the level of cholesterol in the blood is too high, cholesterol and other fats can stick to the artery walls.
Since blood cholesterol is waxy and cannot dissolve in water, it is carried through the blood in packages called lipoproteins. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is a “good” package for cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) is a “bad” package for cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol gathers up excess cholesterol in the blood and carries it to the liver. The liver reprocesses or excretes it. HDL may also help remove some of the cholesterol deposited on the artery walls.
Excess LDL cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease because it is LDL cholesterol that builds up on the artery walls. The type of fats and oils we eat helps control LDL levels.
Eating too many foods high in saturated fat may increase blood levels of LDL and total cholesterol. High blood levels of LDL and total cholesterol are risk factors for heart disease.
Eating foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids may help lower LDL cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease.
Eating polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats decreases LDL cholesterol levels.
Trans fatty acids act like saturated fats and raise LDL cholesterol levels. They may also lower HDL cholesterol in the blood.
Fat and Cholesterol: Know Your Limits
The guidelines for fat intake are well known: for healthy Americans, consume no more than 30 percent of total calories from fat. The “30 percent” guideline means:
7-10 percent of total calories from saturated fats,
About 10 – 15 percent of total calories from monounsaturated fats, and About 10 percent from polyunsaturated fats.
For cholesterol, healthy Americans should limit their intake to less than 300 milligrams per day.
Knowing your limits includes eating healthfully—include 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Base your meals on whole grains, beans, and legumes, or a 4-ounce portion of lean meat or poultry without the skin, and 2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products each day. Limit your intake of sweets, and other high-fat foods— and choose the type of fats and oils you eat carefully.
For more information: The American Dietetic Association/National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics.