Sunday, June 3, 2007

11 Nutrients: Why You Need Them

Beta Carotene

What it does: In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A, a nutrient essential for healthy vision, immune function and cell growth. It also acts as an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. How much you need: There's no RDA for beta carotene.

Food Sources of Beta Carotene: Eat plenty of dark green vegetables and orange vegetables and fruits (papaya, mango) weekly to meet your vitamin A needs and reap beta carotene's potential antioxidant benefits.

Vitamin B12

What it does: Vitamin B12 is used in making DNA, the building block of genes, and in maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells. How much you need: 2.4 micrograms a day for people 14 and older provides all the body needs--although some researchers have argued that a daily intake of 6 micrograms would ensure absorption.

Food sources of Vitamin B12: B12 is bound to protein, so foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy products like yogurt and milk are the principal sources.

Chromium

What it does: Chromium is required by the body for the process that turns food into usable energy, helping insulin prime cells to take up glucose. How much you need: Despite disappointing findings on chromium supplements and weight loss, the body still needs it. The daily recommended intake for adults is 50 to 200 mcg.

Food sources of chromium: Best sources of chromium are whole-grain breads and cereals, meat, nuts, prunes, raisins, beer and wine.

Vitamin K

What it does: Vitamin K is used by the body to produce an array of different proteins. Some of them are used to create factors that allow blood to coagulate--critical in stemming bleeding and allowing cuts and wounds to heal. How much you need: The current recommended daily intake of vitamin K is 90 micrograms for women and 120 for men. Luckily, vitamin K deficiency is extremely uncommon.

Food Sources of Vitamin K: Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, arugula, green leaf lettuce, soybean oil, canola oil, olive oil and tomatoes.

Potassium

What it does: Potassium is involved in almost every vital body process: maintaining blood pressure, heart and kidney function, muscle contraction, even digestion. How much you need: Surveys show that most Americans get less than half the recommended amounts of potassium, which is 4,700 milligrams (mg) daily for adults and teens.

Food sources of potassium: Foods that are closest to their original states are best, so be sure to choose whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible, especially fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and lean meats.

Magnesium

What it does: Necessary for some of the body's most basic processes, magnesium triggers more than 300 biochemical reactions--most importantly the production of energy from the food we eat. How much you need: Around 300 mg/day (women) and 350 mg/day (men), with the upper limit for supplemental magnesium at 350 mg.

Food sources of magnesium: The mineral is abundant in avocados, nuts and leafy greens including acorn squash, kiwi and almonds.

Vitamin C

What it does: Researchers have long known that vitamin C is an essential building block of collagen, the structural material for bone, skin, blood vessels and other tissue. How much you need: The current recommended daily intake for men is 90 mg and for women it is 75 mg. The body can only absorb a maximum of about 400 milligrams a day.

Food Sources of Vitamin C: Virtually everything in the produce section including oranges, green bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, cantaloupe and tomatoes, turnip greens, sweet potatoes and okra.

Vitamin D

What it does: Early on, most of the concern focused on bones, since vitamin D, working along with calcium, helps build and maintain them. How much you need: Official recommendations now call for 200 IU for children and 600 IU for people over 71, with other groups falling somewhere between.

Food sources of vitamin D: We rely on fortified milk and breakfast cereals to get most of our dietary vitamin D. Apart from a few kinds of fish, including herring and sardines, there aren't many natural food sources, which leaves supplements and direct sunlight.

Folate/Folic Acid

What it does: Folate is necessary for the production of new cells, including red blood cells. Folate deficiency remains a major cause of spinal-cord defects in newborns. How much you need: Many dietitians recommend taking a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid; 1,000 mcg per day is the safe upper limit for folic acid.

Food sources of folate: Rich sources of folate include liver, dried beans and peas, spinach and leafy greens, asparagus and fortified cereals.

Zinc

What it does: Zinc is integral to almost every cell of the human body, from keeping the immune system healthy to regulating testosterone. How much you need: The recommended dietary intake for men is 11 mg/day, for women 8 mg/day.

Food Sources of zinc: Oysters, cooked beef tenderloin, turkey, chickpeas, roast chicken leg, pumpkin seeds, cooked pork tenderloin, plain low-fat yogurt, wheat germ, tofu, dry roasted cashews and Swiss cheese.

Vitamin E

What it does: Scientists have not yet elucidated all of vitamin E's roles, but they hypothesize that it has a role in immune function, DNA repair, the formation of red blood cells and vitamin K absorption. How much you need: The RDA in men and women is 23 IU, or 15 milligrams, and because many E-rich foods come from nuts and oils, some low-fat diets may be inadequate in vitamin E.

Food Sources of Vitamin E: Wheat germ oil. Sunflower seeds, cooked spinach, almonds, safflower oil and hazelnuts. Learn more about health and Nutrients.

Read Complete Vitamins and Minerals Health Guide at http://www.natural-cure-guide.com/ - World's first site fully dedicated to natural cure.

Technorati Tags: ,