Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Around 90 percent of vitamin C in the average American diet is derived from fruits and vegetables. Peppers (sweet, green, red, hot red and green chili) are especially rich in vitamin C. Other good sources include citrus fruits and juices, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, guava, kiwi fruit, currants and strawberries. It is important to note that cooking destroys vitamin C activity.
Vitamin C is integral in strengthening the immune system, also acting as an antioxidant. In fact, ascorbic acid may be the most important water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It may also have enhancing effects in regards to the cardiovascular system, allergies, blood pressure, vision and respiratory functions. Vitamin C may aid in the detoxification of some heavy metals, such as lead and other toxic chemicals. It aids in the synthesis of collagen, wound healing and supports healthy cholesterol levels. The ascorbic acid form of vitamin C is involved in mediating iron absorption, transport and storage. It assists in the intestinal absorption of iron via reducing ferric iron to ferrous iron and may stimulate ferritin production to promote iron storage in cells. It is involved in the biosynthesis of corticosteroids, aldosterone and the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)
Regular sunlight exposure is the main way that most people obtain vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include only a few such as vitamin D-fortified milk (100 IU per cup), cod liver oil, fatty fish such as salmon, and small amounts found in egg yolks and liver.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and induces the production of several proteins involved in calcium absorption and storage. Vitamin D works with calcium to increase bone strength and harden the bones. It works to increase active transport of calcium out of the osteoblasts into the extra-cellular fluid and in the kidneys. It promotes calcium and phosphate re-uptake by renal tubules. Vitamin D also promotes the absorption of dietary calcium and phosphate uptake by the intestinal epithelium. It helps skin cells grow normally.
Calcium is found in dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli.
Calcium is an essential mineral with a wide range of biological roles. Calcium exists in bone primarily in the form of hydroxyapatite (Ca10 (PO4) 6 (OH) 2). Hydroxyapatite comprises approximately 40 percent of the weight of bone. The skeleton has an obvious structural requisite for calcium. The skeleton also acts as a storehouse for calcium. Apart from being a major constituent of bones and teeth, calcium is crucial for muscle contraction, nerve conduction, the beating of the heart, blood coagulation, glandular secretion, the production of energy and the maintenance of immune function. It may also support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. A sufficient daily calcium intake is necessary for maintaining bone density. Calcium has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS in women. When you do not get enough calcium per day, your body draws calcium from your bones causing them to thin, which can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the age related thinning of the bones.
PTH (parathyroid hormone) regulates the amount of calcium in the blood. Some researchers believe that when the human body does not receive enough calcium, levels of PTH increase, causing the body to experience elevated blood pressure levels. High levels of calcium in the body have been associated with enhanced cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women and healthy cholesterol levels. One preliminary study also suggests that calcium may assist in weight loss.
Iron is mainly found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, beans, peas, fortified bread and grain products, such as cereal (non-heme iron sources). Beef, liver, organ meats and poultry comprise the heme iron sources. The heme iron sources are more easily absorbed than the non-heme type of iron.
Iron is an essential mineral. It is a component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood and myoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in muscle tissue. Iron is required in red blood cell formation. Iron plays a part in many imperative biochemical pathways and enzyme systems including those involved with energy metabolism, neurotransmitter production (serotonin and dopamine), collagen formation and immune system function. Pregnant women who are subject to a greater loss of blood have the highest iron requirements. Iron has been found to be helpful for increasing oxygen transport, thus improving exercise capacity, stimulating the immune system, increasing energy levels, and neurotransmitter and collagen production.
Iodine (Potassium Iodide)
Iodine stimulates the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones thyroxin and tri-iodothyronine, which regulate metabolic rate. The trace element is also present in more than a hundred enzyme systems such as energy production, nerve function and hair and skin growth.
Foods rich in magnesium include unpolished grains, nuts and green vegetables. Green, leafy vegetables are potent sources of magnesium because of their chlorophyll content. Meats, starches and milk contain lesser amounts of magnesium. Refined and processed foods are generally quite low in magnesium. The average daily magnesium intake in the U.S. for males nine years and older is estimated to be about 323 milligrams; for females nine years and older, it is estimated to be around 228 milligrams. Some surveys report lower intakes, and some believe that the dietary intake for many may be inadequate.
Magnesium is a component of the mineralized part of bone and is necessary for the metabolism of potassium and calcium in adults. It helps maintain normal levels of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, adrenaline and insulin. It's also important for the mobilization of calcium, transporting it inside the cell for further utilization, thus making it helpful in preventing osteoporosis. It plays a key role in the functioning of muscle and nervous tissue. Magnesium is necessary for the synthesis of all proteins, nucleic acids, nucleotides, cyclic adenosine monophosphate, lipids and carbohydrates. Further, magnesium helps indirectly in reversing the effects of oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation as involved with the aging process.
Magnesium is required for energy release, regulation of the body temperature, proper nerve function, helping the body handle stress, and regulating metabolism. Magnesium works together with calcium to support the heart. Importantly, magnesium is also required by the body to build healthy bones and teeth, and is required for proper muscle development. It works together with calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. Magnesium helps to relax the heart muscles to maintain a regular heartbeat and, thus, promoting a healthy heart.
Zinc is largely found in fortified cereals, red meats, eggs, poultry and certain seafoods, including oysters.
It is a component of multiple enzymes and proteins. It is also involved in the regulation of gene expression. Zinc is an essential trace mineral that has functions in approximately 300 different enzyme reactions. Thus, zinc plays a part in almost all biochemical pathways and physiological processes. More than 90 percent of the body's zinc is stored in the bones (30 percent) and muscles (60 percent), but is also found in virtually all body tissues. It has been claimed that zinc plays a role in wound healing, immune system support, healthy prostate gland promotion and fertility enhancement by means of sperm production in males. Because zinc is involved in such a great number of enzymatic processes, it has been found to positively affect a large range of issues including digestion, energy production, growth, cellular repair, collagen synthesis, bone strength, cognitive function and carbohydrate metabolism (glucose utilization and insulin production).
The best dietary sources of selenium include nuts, unrefined grains, brown rice, wheat germ and seafood.
In the body, selenium functions as part of an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase as well as being vital for normal growth and proper usage of iodine in thyroid functioning. Selenium also supports the antioxidant effect of vitamin E and is many times added to vitamin E supplements. Selenium enhances cardiovascular health, skin protection, male fertility, prostate support, and immune system support. As part of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase system, selenium plays a direct role in the body's ability to protect cells from damage by free radicals.
The richest sources of dietary copper derive from organ meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereal, whole grain products and cocoa products.
Copper has antioxidant properties and acts as a component of enzymes in iron metabolism. It is an essential trace mineral. Copper is needed in normal infant development, red and white blood cell maturation, iron transport, bone strength, cholesterol metabolism, myocardial contractility, glucose metabolism, brain development and immune function.
Manganese is a mineral found in large quantities in both plant and animal matter. The most valuable dietary sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables and teas. There are several forms of supplementary manganese including manganese gluconate, manganese sulfate, manganese ascorbate and manganese amino acid chelates.
Manganese is concentrated in the bran of grains, which is often removed during processing. Only trace amounts of this element can be found in human tissue. Manganese is predominantly stored in the bones, liver, kidney, and pancreas. It aids in the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors and sex hormones. It plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function. Manganese is a component of the antioxidant-enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). Antioxidants scavenge damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. These particles occur naturally in the body but can damage cell membranes, interact with genetic material and possibly contribute to the aging process, as well as the development of a number of health conditions. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. Manganese deficiencies are considered rare, however, since it is relatively easy to obtain adequate amounts of manganese through the diet. Interestingly, though, some experts estimate that as many as 37 percent of Americans do not get the recommended daily amounts of manganese in their diet. This may be due to the fact that whole grains are a major source of dietary manganese, and many Americans consume refined grains more often than whole grains. Refined grains provide half the amount of manganese as whole grains. Manganese supplementation, in combination with calcium, zinc and copper, has shown some efficacy in postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Chromium (amino nicotinate)
Chromium is found naturally in some cereals, meats, poultry, brewer's yeast, broccoli, prunes mushrooms, fish and beer.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in glucose metabolism, regulation of insulin levels, and the maintenance of healthy blood levels of cholesterol and other fats. Chromium combines to form something in the body called glucose tolerance factor or GTF, which has an impact on the actions of insulin in promoting healthy blood sugar levels. It is claimed that chromium helps support healthy blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglycerides, as it increases insulin sensitivity. It is also reported to help with weight control, hunger and suppress appetite. Many in the weight loss industry view chromium as an integral mineral in weight maintenance, as it may contribute to an increase in lean body and muscle mass.
Molybdenum (sodium molybdate)
The richest sources of molybdenum come from legumes, cereal grains, leafy vegetables, milk, beans, liver and kidney. It is required for the activity of some enzymes that are involved in catabolism. Deficiency in molybdenum is rare but can be very serious.
Molybdenum helps to regulate the pH balance in the body, aids in the metabolism of iron, helps eliminate toxic nitrogen, aids in carbohydrate metabolism, increases libido, enhances the effect of fluorine in tooth decay prevention, and inducing sleep.
To combat fatigue, athletes in sprint-type sports take a form of sodium bicarbonate. During very intense exercise, lactic acid accumulation in the muscle cells can lead to premature fatigue and may reduce athletic performance. Sodium bicarbonate also improves endurance performance.
Foods rich in potassium include fresh vegetables and fruits such as bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, avocado, raw spinach, cabbage and celery.
Potassium is stored in the muscles. Potassium is an essential macro mineral that helps to maintain fluid balance. It also plays a role in a wide variety of biochemical and physiological processes. Among other things, it is important in the transmission of nerve impulses, the contraction of cardiac, skeletal and smooth muscle, the production of energy, the synthesis of nucleic acids, the maintenance of intracellular tonicity and the maintenance of normal blood pressure. Potassium stimulates muscle relaxation and insulin release. It also promotes glycogen and protein synthesis. Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes proper heartbeat. Potassium is important in releasing energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates during metabolism. Potassium also regulates water balance and assists recuperative powers. Potassium is crucial for the elimination of wastes. Potassium is a natural pain desensitizer.
Foods rich in vanadium include black pepper, mushrooms, shellfish, parsley and dill seed. Studies have shown that vanadium supports healthy blood glucose levels.
Boron (sodium borate)
Boron is found in most tissues, but is found mostly in the bone, spleen and thyroid, indicating boron's functions in bone metabolism and suggesting a potential role for boron in hormone metabolism. Boron is found in rather high levels in plant foods such as dried fruits, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, applesauce, grape juice, and cooked dried beans and peas.
Boron helps to build and maintain healthy bones. It helps retain adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium to prevent bone demineralization. It enhances the maintenance of healthy cell membranes, proper mental functioning and alertness. It elevates serum estrogen levels and ionized calcium.
Boron appears to affect some aspect of vitamin D3 metabolism or is synergistic with vitamin D3 in influencing growth. Research findings show that dietary boron modified the regulatory function of vitamin D3.