Category Archives: Essential Nutrients

Protein – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Protein is made up of amino acids which are essential for growth and development; the building blocks for cells, tissue and muscle. There are 20 different amino acids all which provide their own unique health benefits. The best way to obtain as many of these different amino acids is to eat a diversity of healthy protein sources.

Protein is critical to good nutrition as it plays a role in just about every function in the body. It benefits the digestive system, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, helps in energy production and in detoxification as well provides the building blocks for DNA, cells, tissues and muscles.

Characteristics of a Protein Deficiency

It is recommended that protein be between 10 to 20% of your diet, depending on your body composition and lifestyle. Protein deficiencies can result in weight loss, weak and sore muscles, decreased muscle mass and lethargy. Since amino acids are the building blocks of DNA and cells, wound healing is also compromised with low protein intake.

With ongoing protein deficiencies a person can also experience headaches, depression, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety and mood disorders. Digestive functions can also be compromised, causing painful gassy contractions since healthy digestion depends on the amino acids in protein.

Protein Food Sources

All meats are excellent protein sources, although pork is not considered a healthy choice. Eggs, dairy and yogurt are also great sources for protein. For vegetarians, legumes of all kinds, and some seeds and grains are also good sources of this essential nutrient.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Protein

This chart lists the best food sources for protein, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of protein in every single serving.

Protein Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Chicken and Dumplings recipe! Chicken is an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient protein.

 

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
•    The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
•    University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
•    Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
•    Body Building: http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/ultimate-list-40-high-protein-foods.html
•    Healthaliciousnes: https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php
•    Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php
•    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services / Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Selenium – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Selenium is a mineral important for many body processes including antioxidant protection against free radical damage. Antioxidants protect the body from cell damage and aging; as well it helps to regulate body inflammation and boost the immune system.

Selenium is a key nutrient in counteracting the development of different viruses and can slow down the progression of some disease. Some scientific evidence also suggests that selenium can reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. Through its ability to fight inflammation, selenium also improves blood flow and helps lower the chance of heart disease.

A diet rich in selenium has been found to boost fertility in both men and women; as well may help to prevent mental decline and improve memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Through assisting in the production of active thyroid hormones, selenium also has the ability to regulate thyroid function, and protect it from oxidative stress. The thyroid gland controls numerous important body functions including appetite, sleep, temperature, weight and energy.

Characteristics of a Selenium Deficiency

A selenium deficiency can result when food is grown in soil deficient of this essential nutrient. A deficiency can result in a weakened immune system, infertility, hypothyroidism, mental fog and fatigue, muscle weakness, depression, fingernail discolouration and hair loss.

Selenium toxicity can also occur through the regular use of supplements, as well through the interaction of other medications. Too much selenium in the system can be toxic and even fatal. Signs of a selenium poisoning include: bad breath, brittle nails, skin lesions and rashes, hair loss, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, muscle soreness, tremors and facial flushing. In serious cases selenium toxicity can result in intestinal and neurological complications, heart attacks, kidney failure and even death. If considering taking selenium supplements, talk to your family doctor first.

Selenium Food Sources

Good sources of selenium include chicken, fish, eggs, some nuts and seeds, yogurt and baked beans. It is always best to get your essential nutrients from real whole food sources other than supplements.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Selenium

This chart lists the best food sources for selenium, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of selenium in that single serving.

Selenium Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Muffin-Tin Mushroom Frittatas recipe! Eggs and mushrooms are excellent whole food sources for the essential nutrient selenium.

 

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
•    The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
•    WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-selenium#1
•    University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
•    Dr. Axe, Food is Medicine: https://draxe.com/selenium-benefits/
•    Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
•    Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php
•    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services / Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Phosphorus – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body next to calcium, which it works along side with to help build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is mostly found in the bones, but can also be found in the cells and tissues where it plays an important role in maintenance and repair. Phosphorus also helps the kidneys to filter out waste, assists the body in storing energy, is needed for growth and assists in the production of the bodies genetic building blocks, DNA and RNA.

Phosphorus helps the body to maintain the healthy pH balance of 7.4. Maintaining a healthy PH is the bodies best defence against disease. When the bodies pH falls below 7.4, less oxygen is carried through the blood allowing the unfavourable growth of bacteria, yeast, fungus, viruses and other unwanted organisms. Ph levels that are below 7.4 are considered to be acidic and not only damage cells, but can eat holes in tissues and allow serious conditions like cancer to thrive.

Characteristics of a Phosphorus Deficiency

The good news is, deficiencies are generally rare since phosphorus is found in several different food sources. Deficiencies can occur in people suffering serious health conditions or who have undergone surgeries that can compromise the bodies digestive system along with its ability to absorb the nutrients it needs. Antacids and diuretics have also been found to deplete phosphorus levels.

Symptoms of a deficiency include loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, weakness, weak and fragile bones, bone pain, stiff joints, numbness, irregular breathing, and weight change. In children a deficiency can interfere with proper growth and bone development.

Phosphorus toxicity is unfortunately more common and is linked to the heavy consumption of processed foods and soft drinks. Phosphate stabilizers, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents and acidity regulators all contribute to phosphorus toxicity which are all found in processed foods. Kidney disease has also been linked to high phosphorus levels.

High levels of phosphorus in the body can bind with calcium in the blood and form deposits in your muscles and other soft tissues, causing them to harden. Phosphorus toxicity can interfere with your bodies ability to absorb and use other important minerals which can potentially cause an array of other health complications. To avoid phosphorus toxicity, avoid highly processed foods and soda pop.

Phosphorus Food Sources

There are many excellent sources for phosphorus. Seeds, nuts, wheat germ and oats are some; protein rich foods like fish and milk products offer another excellent source; but legumes and lentils are also equally as rich in this essential nutrient.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Phosphorus

This chart lists the best food sources for phosphorus, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of phosphorus in that single serving.

Phosphorus Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Hearty Vegetable Lentil Soup recipe! Lentils are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient phosphorus.

 

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
•    The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
•    University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
•    Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
•    Dr. Axe – Food is Medicine: https://draxe.com/balancing-act-why-ph-is-crucial-to-health/
•    Live Strong: http://www.livestrong.com/article/496979-too-much-phosphorus-in-the-body/
•    Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php
•    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services / Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Magnesium – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Magnesium is essential for several different important functions and necessary for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. One of these chemical reactions involves producing energy at the cellular level which largely effects a persons overall energy levels. Another chemical reactions plays an important role with nervous system balance while others work as brain cell receptors which can affect mood.

Magnesium supports normal immune function and tissue repair, control of blood sugar and glucose metabolism, as well has been linked to the normalization of full body inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many serious diseases such as fibromyalgia, heart disease and diabetes.

Magnesium also plays an important role in bone metabolism, where half of the mineral is found in the body. Studies have discovered that even a mild deficiency can result in bone loss.

Characteristics of a Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiencies can cause a person to feel lethargic, with very low-energy and heavy limbs. Achy and sore muscles and bones can also be the result of body inflammation. With ongoing magnesium deficiencies, depression, anxiety and irritability can also set in. A person may also experience restless legs, a sleeping disorder and even confusion. Low blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms along with nausea and vomiting can occur in prolonged cases.

Deficiencies are generally uncommon although certain illnesses and different factors can result in one. Intestinal illness or surgery and IBDs (Irritable bowel diseases), pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, prolonged stress and taking diuretics can all upset the magnesium balance in the body. Drinking too much coffee, soda or alcohol; as well eating too much salty foods can also decrease magnesium levels.

Magnesium Food Sources

Nuts, seeds and all types of beans are excellent sources for this essential nutrient. Magnesium can also be found in fish such as salmon and mackerel. Cooked spinach and yogurt also serve as good sources for this important mineral.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Magnesium

This chart lists the best food sources for magnesium, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of magnesium in every single serving

Magnesium Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Super Seedy Energy Bars recipe! Seeds, cereals and nuts are excellent whole food sources for the essential nutrient magnesium.

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
•    The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
•    University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
•    Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
•    Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php
•    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services / Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Potassium – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Potassium is an electrolyte used to regulate and maintain the fluid, mineral and electrical balance in the body; including blood sugar. It supports good heart health by counteracting the effects of sodium and helps to reduce and maintain blood pressure while reducing the risk of stroke. It also plays an important role in skeletal and muscle contraction which further supports a healthy heart.

Maintaining normal potassium levels reduces most muscle disorders like muscle cramping, while strengthening muscles. It is required for the healthy function of muscular tissue and several organs. Potassium also supports cell health and blood vessels by reducing blood clotting and helping to move nutrients into cells, while moving waste out.

Potassium supports digestive health by providing good metabolism and food processing function, increasing the amount of nutrients absorbed from food. Potassium also helps to transmit nerve impulses and stimulate neural activity, as well can help to reduce anxiety and stress.

Characteristics of a Potassium Deficiency

Potassium deficiencies can be characterized by muscle weakness, spasms, cramps, stiffness, aching and tenderness. A numbness, tingling or a burning sensation sometimes can be felt in the hands or feet. IBD symptoms like abdominal bloating, pain and cramping are also common.

Low potassium levels can also cause heavy heart palpitations and rhythm abnormalities like a racing heart or missed beats. These conditions can be life-threatening as they can cause cardiac arrest. A person’s blood pressure can also be affected causing it to elevate as well as drop, which can cause dizziness and fainting.

Kidney function can be hampered by low potassium levels, which can result in an excessive loss of water from the body resulting in frequent urination and a feeling of extreme thirst. A serious ongoing potassium deficiency can result in diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, malnutrition and worsening of malabsorption syndromes like Crohn’s. A person can even experience paralysis where muscles go completely limp.

Potassium toxicity can occur which can also result in kidney failure in the most serious cases. Heavy alcohol and drug use can cause your muscles to break down releasing too much potassium in to your blood. Chemotherapy drugs have also been found to cause increased levels of potassium production in the body. Symptoms of high potassium levels include fatigue and weakness, numbness and tingling, nausea and vomiting, breathing difficulty, chest pain and abnormal heart rhythms.

Potassium Food Sources

Fortunately there are many food sources for this essential nutrient. Root vegetables like yams, potatoes and beets, along with cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts and bok choy, as well legumes, spinach and many types of fruits are all excellent source for this essential nutrient.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Potassium

This chart lists the best food sources for potassium, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of potassium in every single serving.

Potassium Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Potato Basil Gnocchi recipe! Potatoes are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient potassium.

 

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
•    The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
•    University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
•    Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
•    Web MD: www.webmd.com
•    Health Line: http://www.healthline.com/health/high-potassium-hyperkalemia#Symptoms3
•    Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php
•    Health Canada / Food Labelling: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/nutrition-labelling/information-within-the-nutrition-facts-table/eng/1389198568400/1389198597278?chap=6
•    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services / Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Zinc – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Zinc is a powerful antioxidant that supports several important functions in the body. Antioxidants protect the body from cell damage and aging; as well it helps to regulate body inflammation and boost the immune system with an improved white blood count. Zinc helps to fight bacterial infections, viruses like the common cold and serious health conditions like cancer. It promotes wound healing and assists in cell and muscle growth and repair.

Through helping to regulate hormone and insulin levels which regulates blood sugar, zinc assists in fighting diabetes. Providing support to liver health by reducing infections, zinc can further be used as a cleanse to reduce inflammation. Maintaining healthy levels of zinc can eliminate prostate disorder and swelling of the prostate gland. Zinc also improves fertility in men as it helps to increases testosterone levels.

Zinc supports cognitive function and improves learning and memory. It sharpens the senses, especially taste and smell; and helps to reduce night-blindness. Zinc is required for normal growth and development in children; as well it supports strong bones in adults.

Zinc can help to ease the symptoms of arthritis and muscle cramps associated with liver disease. Used as an appetite suppressant, zinc can assist in weight loss. It can help to prevent diarrhea, as well aids in protein synthesis and in nutrient absorption and digestion.

Characteristics of a Zinc Deficiency

A zinc deficiency can be caused by maintaining a poor diet, however some serious chronic health conditions and surgeries can also affect the bodies ability to absorb nutrients.

Low levels of zinc can result in low immunity and slow wound healing, along with frequent infections and skin sores. Skin conditions such as acne and eczema can also worsen. A person may experience a loss of taste and smell, and have trouble seeing in the dark. People can also experience reduced concentration, poor memory and difficulty learning when zinc levels suffer.

A zinc deficiency during childhood can result in stunted growth development. Changes in appetite can occur with increased cravings for salty and sugary foods, which can affect weight gain. As well, digestive problems can increase along with diarrhea. Hormonal problems for both men and women are also largely affected.

Zinc Food Sources

Healthy whole food sources for zinc include animal proteins such as white meats and eggs. Nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and legumes are also equally excellent sources for this essential nutrient.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Zinc

This chart lists the best whole food sources for zinc, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of zinc in that single serving.

Zinc Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Written by J. Marshall

Try our Slow-Cooker Maple Baked Beans recipe! Beans are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient zinc.

 

 

Try our Chocolate Energy Bars recipe! Seeds and oats are excellent whole food sources for the essential nutrient zinc.

 

References

Iron – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Iron is a mineral that is essential for the proper function of hemoglobin, a protein needed to transport oxygen in the blood. Healthy hemoglobin levels are vital to replenish blood loss and make new red blood cells. Having a low red blood cell count results in anemia, a condition that can come with mild to severe health problems.

Healthy blood levels feed the body with enough oxygen, which is important for energy production. With enough oxygen in the blood, a person is more alert, has good concentration, gets a better night’s sleep and has a positive mental outlook. Iron is also necessary for a healthy immune system and to maintain healthy cells, which include the skin, hair and nails.

Characteristics of an Iron Deficiency

An iron deficiency can result in anemia, a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen, which results in fatigue, muscle weakness, mind fog, poor sleep, a weakened immune system, depression and even anxiety. Poor neurodevelopment is also associated with experiencing anemia during childhood.

Iron deficiencies can be caused by the lack of iron in the diet, as well as blood loss, heavy menstruation, severe trauma, surgery or a malignant tumour. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 80% of the world may be deficient in iron and 30% anemic.

Iron toxicity can also occur if there is too much iron in the body, which can lead to a condition known as hemochromatosis. This condition can cause diabetes, liver damage, and discolouration of the skin. Iron is stored in the body until it is used and cannot be excreted like other nutrients. For this reason, iron supplements should never be taken unless directed by a doctor. If you are concerned about your iron levels, a blood test through your family doctor can determine if you are at risk.

Iron Food Sources

There are two types of iron you can get from your dietary sources; heme and non-heme. Heme iron is easily absorbed by the body and is found in meat food sources like red meats, poultry, fish and organ meats.

Non-heme iron requires other nutrients to help the body absorb it, like vitamin C; whereas calcium and all dairy products block its absorption. Non-heme food sources include dried beans and peas, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, some vegetables and dark leafy greens.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Iron

This chart lists the best food sources for iron, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of iron in that single serving.

Iron Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Caramelized Onion and Sautéed Mushroom Stuffed Potatoes along with Pepper and Cheese Stuffed PotatoesTry our Caramelized Onions and Sautéed Mushroom Stuffed Potatoes recipe or our Mixed Peppers and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes recipe! They are both an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient Iron.

Written by: J. Marshall

References

Calcium – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Calcium is a mineral necessary to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It is the most common mineral in the body, nearly all of which is stored in the bones. This essential nutrient serves several other important functions in the body as well.

Calcium aids in healthy blood clotting and normal blood vessel and muscle contraction; which in-turn helps to lower blood pressure. Calcium supports the central nervous system; as well stimulates enzyme and hormone secretion in the body. Calcium regulates fluid in the body by controlling the flow of water in and out of the cells; as well facilitates in cell communication.

For calcium to work properly in the body, several other nutrients need to be present as well such as: magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin K.

Characteristics of a Calcium Deficiency

A calcium deficiency can increase a person’s risk of developing soft and brittle bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and muscle weakness; resulting in conditions like osteoporosis and rickets.

A person may experience muscle cramping or spasms, as well PMS symptoms can worsen. Some studies suggest that poor calcium levels can also result in higher blood pressure. Other signs and symptoms include, insomnia, numbness or tingling fingers, dizziness and lethargy, tooth decay and brittle fingernails, as well delayed growth in children.

Calcium deficiencies can occur in people with dairy intolerances and in those that avoid animal products like strict vegans, though there are other food sources for this important nutrient. Maintaining a meal plan to ensure all nutrient requirements are being met may help in these cases. Deficiencies can also occur in people with compromised digestive systems caused by severe illness or surgery.

Calcium Food Sources

The most obvious calcium food sources come from dairy products like milk and yogurt, but calcium can also be found in fish, dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Calcium

This chart lists the best food sources for vitamin calcium along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of calcium in that single serving.

Calcium Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Tzatziki SauceTry our Tzatziki Sauce recipe or our Chicken Tzatziki Wraps recipe! They are both an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient calcium.

Written By: J. Marshall

References

Folate – Health Benefits and Food Sources

The essential nutrient folate plays several important roles in the body. It is important for converting food into fuel to produce energy; as well helps to assimilate fats and proteins. Folate is needed for the making of genetic material (RNA and DNA) for every cell. It helps the nervous system function properly, as well it is needed for a healthy liver, skin, hair and eyes.

Folic acid is crucial for proper brain function and plays an important role in emotional health. It works with vitamin B12 to help make red blood cells and to help iron function properly in the body. Extra folate is also required for pregnant women to support healthy foetus development.

Folate is water-soluble and should be replenished regularly. Getting your folate from food sources is important since synthetic folate supplements have been found to not be that beneficial and can cause other problems.

Characteristics of a Folate Deficiency

Characteristics of a deficiency include poor growth, tongue inflammation, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness and mental sluggishness. In babies, a folic acid deficiency can also result in neural defects.

Deficiencies are generally uncommon but can occur in people with excessive alcoholism or who maintain a poor diet. Serious health conditions that effect the digestive system can also reduce the absorption of nutrients such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease.

Certain medications have also been found to block the absorption of folate such as: phenytoin (Dilantin), methotrexate, sulfasalazine, triamterene, pyrimethamine, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and barbiturates.

Folate Food Sources

The foods that are rich in folic acid include legumes, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, asparagus, beets and several other types of vegetables.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Folate

This chart lists the best food sources for folate, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of folate in that single serving.

Folate Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Sweet and Spicy Lentil Salad recipe! Lentils are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient folate.

 

Written by: J. Marshall

References

Vitamin K1 – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in fat tissue and the liver; and serves several important functions in the body. It is essential for maintaining healthy blood clotting and preventing thinning blood complications caused by some medications. Vitamin K is also responsible for regulating blood calcium levels, which helps with bone metabolism, reducing bone density loss and preventing fractures.

Vitamin K can also prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure and the risk of stroke through preventing the calcification of arteries. Vitamin K may also help with cognitive health and improved memory.

Characteristics of a Vitamin K Deficiency

A deficiency in vitamin K can result in arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, osteoporosis, tooth decay and an increased risk of infectious diseases.

Deficiencies are uncommon but can occur in people who maintain poor eating habits. Serious health conditions or surgeries effecting the digestive system can also affect the amount of nutrients absorbed by the body. Liver disease and blood thinners like warfarin can also lead to a deficiency.

Vitamin K1 Food Sources

Vitamin K1 is found mostly in dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and fresh herbs; as well cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Vitamin K1

This chart lists the best food sources for vitamin K1, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of vitamin K1 in that single serving.

The amount of nutrients per serving in the following food sources is not absolute for several reasons. Fresh foods will have a higher vitamin and mineral content when grown in healthier soil, as well vitamin content will deplete a little bit every day from the moment it is harvested. Therefore these figures should only be used as a generalization.

Vitamin K Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods.

Try our Baked Kale Chips recipe! Kale is an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient vitamin K.

~or~

Try our Cauliflower and Broccoli in Cream Sauce recipe! Broccoli is an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient vitamin K.

~or~

Try our Spinach Frittata recipe! Spinach is an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient vitamin K.

 

Written By: J. Marshall

References