Even if you strive to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and exercise regularly, you might not be getting the micronutrients you need to avoid health problems in the future. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 9 out of 10 people in this country are deficient in potassium, 8 of 10 are deficient in vitamin E, and half of us are deficient in vitamin A, C, and magnesium. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 50% of us are deficient in vitamin D and they report that in elderly populations this number rises to 70% deficient.
Nutrients are classified as either micronutrients or macronutrients. Vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, bioflavonoids and antioxidants fall into the micronutrient category. Macronutrients include fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Macronutrients have calories whereas micronutrients don’t. Most of us eat a diet with too many macronutrients and not enough micronutrients which can create free radicals that damage body cells. Cancers, diabetes, and heart disease can all be the result. Doesn’t it seem like these health conditions are fairly prevalent nowadays? One reason is because the food we eat is grown in soil that has been depleted of essential minerals. The same is true for our meats too as the animals they come from are feeding on plant based foods that are lacking in micronutrients too. Then of course there is the trend of busy people eating out much of the time, eating processed boxed dinners, or eating at fast food restaurants which means they not only aren’t getting good nutrition, but are also getting lots of trans-fats and sugars that contribute to making even more free radicals in the body.
The micronutrients we need for our bodies to work properly and to stay healthy include 14 essential vitamins, 16 essential minerals and thousands of phytochemicals. Some of the most important ones and food sources that provide them are:
Zinc – available from red meat and dairy and is needed in order to metabolize macronutrients
Magnesium – available from spinach, beans, red meat, and whole grains and is needed for over 300 chemical reactions produced by the body
Calcium – available from green leafy vegetables, salmon, and dairy and needed to build strong bones and muscles, and for nerve transmission
Potassium – available from bananas, oranges, potatoes, and beans and needed to maintain normal blood pressure, for muscle and heart contraction, for nerve transmission, and to keep electrolytes balanced
Selenium – available from Brazil nuts, walnuts, tuna, cod, herring, beef and grains and needed to help protect cells from free radical damage, aid in metabolism, immune response and thyroid function
Vitamin A – available from dark green leafy vegetables, liver, sweet potatoes, carrots and eggs and is needed for eye health, bone health, and to support the immune system
Vitamin C – available from foods such as Bell pepper, oranges, strawberries and broccoli and is needed to build collagen and protect cells from free radical damage
Vitamin E – available from green leafy vegetables, nuts and eggs and needed for healthy skin and eyes, and to protect the brain, heart and liver
How To Get The Micronutrients You Need
The best way to make sure you are getting the micronutrients you need is to include the foods listed above in your diet and buy from the freshest, most nutritious sources you can. If you are able to grow some of your own foods in an organic garden, then you are ahead of the game. Or if you live in an area with local organic farmers that offer vegetables and fruits for sale or CSA programs then you have an advantage over many people. If you don’t have access to these sources, be aware that much of our produce today is being grown in nutrient poor soil and may not have enough of the micronutrients you need. Health and nutrition experts such as Dr. Oz, the American Medical Association and the Harvard School of Public Health advise taking a multivitamin supplement for this reason. The supplement I find gives me the most nutrition is wholefood AFA bluegreen algae that is rich in phytonutrients, plant-based proteins, minerals, essential fatty acids, complex sugars, vitamins, essential amino acids, and a wide variety of micronutrients. This is especially true when it comes to supporting brain health since the brain needs a large amount of nutrients to work properly, but the blood brain barrier only allows small micronutrients and fat-soluble molecules to pass through. This special form of AFA bluegreen algae with the cell wall removed provides micronutrients that are able to pass through the blood brain barrier to feed brain cells.
Hopefully you get the idea now how important it is to make sure you get micronutrients as well as macronutrients in your diet. Real food is of course the best way to get the nutrition you need, but if you find your food sources are lacking in essential micronutrients don’t worry; just add some high quality whole food supplementation such as AFA to your diet and you’ll be good to go.
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