Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Vitality of Vitamins: Fascinating Nutrients help Better choices about Food

In the following, our vitamin advisor will describe some of the important functions each vitamin has, and where to find it in your food. This is not an exhaustive list (whole books have been written about each vitamin). Just take it as an introduction to these fascinating nutrients, which should help you make better choices about your food.

(Raw fruits and vegetables are filled with all sorts of wonderful vitamins and minerals, but did you know that your body will absorb more Vitamin A from mildly cooked carrots than from raw carrots? This is because brief cooking releases some of the bound nutrients.)

A. Fat-soluble vitamins

1. Vitamin A (retinol) is the moisturising nutrient. It helps keep your skin smooth and pliable. It is essential for vision, cell growth and repair and your reproductive system, and it helps your immune system fight bacteria and infections. Vitamin A also promotes the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

You find it mainly in liver; sweet potato (kumara); cod-liver oil; foods high in beta-carotene (which the body converts to Vitamin A), such as butternut pumpkin and carrots; green leafy vegetables such as silver beet, spinach and broccoli; apricots and cantaloupe.

Diet Start

2. Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is essential for bone growth and mineral balance. It must be present in the body to absorb calcium and to deposit it in bones and teeth. Some forms of Vitamin D can be found in fish oils and egg yolks, and they are sometimes added during the processing of margarine and milk. Vitamin D is, however, also the 'sunshine' vitamin, because the skin creates it when sunlight hits the body.

3. Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) protects your cells from free radicals and is essential in maintaining a healthy reproductive system. It helps form and protect red blood cells, nerves and muscles. It also protects other vitamins and helps inhibit blood clots. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, whole grains and leafy green vegetables, and works closely with Vitamin C and selenium as a potent antioxidant team.

4. Vitamin K (phylloquinone - K1, menaquinone - K2, menadione - K3) is essential for normal blood clotting and for the production of bone and kidney cells. It is also found in dark-green leafy vegetables, cheese, liver, cereals and fruits. Interestingly, much of your Vitamin K levels are obtained from healthy bacteria in your intestines!

B. Water-soluble vitamins

1. absorption of iron. You find it especially in citrus fruits and juices, berries, tomatoes, potatoes, green and red peppers, broccoli and leafy green vegetables like spinach.Vitamin C (ascorbate, ascorbic acid) is essential for the formation of collagen, speeds up cell regeneration for wounds, scars and fracture healing and boosts immunity. Like Vitamin E, Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant, it protects and frees up Vitamin E and aids in the

(Many if not all B vitamins are destroyed in processing. This is why you will sometimes see products labelled 'fortified', meaning Vitamin B has been added back in.)

2. Then we have the very important group of B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, biotin, B12 (cobalamin) and B15 (choline). They have a myriad of important functions: they are essential in metabolising carbohydrates, fats and protein, and therefore getting the nutrients you need out of the food you eat. They also help maintain a healthy nervous system and stimulate growth and good muscle tone. B1 and B3 are good appetite stabilisers, B2 and B6 help in the formation of antibodies and red blood cells, and B5 is important for hormone production. Folate is known to reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida, so it is important in pregnancy, as is choline.

(This vitamin has one of the most wide-ranging beneficial effects in your body. Most people do not get enough Vitamin C in their diets, simply because they do not eat enough fresh raw fruit and vegetables.)

They are found in brewers yeast, liver, meat, fish, eggs, poultry, milk, fruits, vegetables (again, dark leafy ones are good!), nuts, rice, seeds, soy milk, vegemite and whole-grain foods.

As you can see, to meet all the vitamin needs of your body, it is essential to eat fresh whole- foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and natural fats from meat and fish. An absolutely yummy vitamin treat to prepare is a platter of fresh fruits, which are all in season. Serve with this Fruit and Nut Cream. It is divine!

Fruit and Nut Cream

Preferably with skin off.

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Serve cold on top of fresh fruit or whole meal pancakes

... andjoyohoxing