“Nutrition can be compared with a chain in which all essential items are separate links. We know what happens if one link of a chain is weak or is missing. The whole chain falls apart”-says Patrick Wright the famous researcher on food related diseases.
Human body is a complicated network of systems that are remarkably integrated by tiny links that snap due to mal nourishment. Micro-nutrients, that include vitamins and minerals, provide the necessary strength and resilience to these strategic links and help your system sustain a healthy metabolism without any breakdown. They give a boost to one’s immune system by repairing cellular damages. Micro-nutrients that are required in small quantities by our body are essential for the growth, development and normal functioning of the various systems.
However, a mere look at the long list of vitamins and minerals, their functions, food sources and the outcomes of their deficiencies can send you into a tizzy. The salient features that you have to remember are that vitamins and minerals perform several vital functions in your body and hence they are part of the essential nutrients that your diet should contain. The best way to intake vitamins and minerals is through diet only. The key word with regard to your intake should be moderation. Anything, however essential it is, when consumed in excess could unsettle the balance by giving rise to complications.
Vitamins are known as organic substances as they are produced by plants and animals. There are 13 essential vitamins that are classified as water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. All the eight B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 & B12) and Vitamin C are water soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E & K are the fat soluble vitamins. As the water soluble vitamins are easily excreted from the body through urine, they could not be stored and hence you have to consistently include them in your daily diet to obtain their benefits. The fat soluble vitamins are absorbed by your body with the aid of fats or lipids. However, excess storage of these vitamins could lead to complications.
Fruits and green & leafy vegetables, milk, egg and other dairy products, meat, fish, mushroom, cereals, nuts and seeds and whole grains are the primary sources of vitamins. It is essential for you to understand that certain percentage of vitamins, especially the water-soluble ones, are lost in the process of cooking due to exposure to heat. Once again, it is a reminder to you that steaming or grilling could be the healthy way to cook your food to prevent loss of nutrients.
Vitamins, found in a variety of common foods, provide immense benefits to the human body. Right from preserving your vision, bones, teeth, skin to maintaining a healthy heart, blood circulation and bolstering your immune system, vitamins perform several vital functions.
To experience the world of benefits offered by these wonder vitamins all you need to do is to include them in tiny quantities in your daily diet. While it is a fact that micro-nutrients are required in small quantities by us, let us never overlook the reality that the lack of micro-nutrients can result in serious health issues.
Deficiency of vitamins can prove disastrous to your body. Lack of vitamins in your diet will lead to primary deficiencies, while the inability of your system to absorb or utilise the vitamins due to sedentary habits like smoking, consumption of alcohol or poor nutrition will result in secondary deficiencies. Osteoporosis, vision impairments, skin infections, tooth aches and bleeding gums are a few of the common complications resulting from vitamin deficiencies.
Minerals are inorganic substances that are absorbed from the earth through soil and water by plants and animals. Minerals are also essential nutrients that are required in small amounts by our body. They aid in the process of the structural growth of the body. Formation and growth of your bones, teeth, hair, nails and skin depend on your intake of minerals that travel all through your body to keep it fit and healthy. Minerals maintain a proper fluid balance in our body and also act a catalyst in transforming the food that we eat into energy.
There are about 50 minerals that our body stores in varying amounts. The major minerals that are required and stored by our body in large amounts are calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur and chloride. You need calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in good quantities to keep your bones healthy.Intake of sodium, chloride and potassium helps in bringing about balance of water in your body, while regular consumption of sulphur will strengthen the protein structures in the hair, skin and nails.
Apart from the major minerals, your body also requires certain trace minerals like iron, copper, chromium, fluoride, iodine, manganese, selenium and zinc. Trace minerals that are involved in diverse functions are required in smaller quantities than vitamins and major minerals. Iron transports oxygen throughout your body, fluoride prevents tooth decay, copper helps in the formation of enzymes and zinc sharpens your ability to taste and smell.
Minerals are absorbed by the blood stream and are excreted by the kidneys like the water soluble vitamins. However, excess consumption of one mineral might impair your body’s ability to absorb another mineral, resulting in mineral imbalance or deficiency. This kind of imbalance occurs mostly due to overloads caused by supplements and not due to consumption of food sources rich in minerals.
Consumption of excess sodium is a worrying trend, almost an obsession in every household. Unfortunately most of us remain unaware of the fact that excess intake of sodium through processed foods or in the form of table salt can lead to calcium deficiency. This is how it happens. When the sodium level increases in your body, it will sense the need to get rid of the excess sodium. In the process of excretion of excess sodium, you automatically lose calcium also, as calcium always binds with excess sodium. Thus indiscriminate consumption of processed foods will eventually lead to calcium deficiency and bone disorders. Similarly, excess phosphorus will hamper your body’s ability to absorb magnesium that is essential for enzyme activation and functioning of the muscles and nerves.
Minerals also interact with vitamins as in the case of Vitamin D that helps in the absorption of calcium from food sources even as they pass through the digestive tract. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron more efficiently.
Food sources rich in minerals include – egg, meat, milk, cheese, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, banana, orange, melons, salt etc.
Do you know that the food that you consume has a greater impact on the overall performance of your genes and DNA? Genetic research has shown that individual genetic variations have a great influence on the way the micro and macro nutrients are assimilated, metabolized, stored and excreted by the body. Genetic testing helps in analysing an individual’s genome that can predict how effectively his/her body can absorb and assimilate the food items that the individual consumes along with the chemicals that are present in them.
Lifelong Wellness, a service provided by Xcode Life Sciences offers customised nutrition plans based on your unique genetic profile. Their genetic testing helps you to personalize your diet in order to delay or prevent the onset of lifestyle disorders. Opting for it could make your life as delicious as the food that you love to eat!