Kitchen Confidant Blog

Micronutrients (aka Vitamins and Minerals) Simplified, Top 5 Sources of and some random facts:

 

Vitamin A – Helps cell reproduction.  Stimulates immunity and is needed to form some hormones.  Vitamin assists with our vision and promotes bone growth, tooth development and helps maintain healthy hair, skin and mucous membranes. 

Alpha- carotene, beta-carotene and retinol are all versions of Vitamin A.  **Most carotenes are broken down in our bodies to produce two Vitamin A molecules… so cool!

Top 5 Sources

Carrots, Butternut Squash, Mango, Bok Choy and Amaranth leaves

 

Vitamin B1 (aka Thiamine) – Is one of the many B Vitamins that are important in the production of energy.  It helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system.  Feeling fatigued and weak?  Consider getting some of the following foods in your dietary lifestyle.

Top 5 Sources

Avocadoes, Asparagus, Dates, Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Parsnips

 

Vitamin B2 (aka Riboflavin) – Is very important for body growth, reproduction and red cell production.  It also helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates.

Top 5 Sources

Avocadoes, Bananas, Amaranth leaves, Asparagus, Artichokes and Bok Choy

 

Vitamin B3 (aka Niacin) – assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin and nerves.  It is also important for the conversion of food to energy.

Top 5 Sources

Artichokes, Avocadoes (again), Dates, Mushrooms, Corn and Sweet Potatoes

 

 

 

Vitamin B5 (aka Pantothenic acid) – is essential for the metabolism of food as well as in the formation of hormones and good cholesterol (HDL’s).

Top 5 Sources

Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Avocadoes, Dates and Butternut Squash

 

Vitamin B6 – plays a role in the creation of antibodies in the immune system.  It helps to maintain normal nerve function and acts in the formation of red blood cells.  It is also required for the chemical reactions of proteins. ** The higher the protein intake, the more need there is for Vitamin B6!! Too little B6 in your diet can cause dizziness, nausea, confusion, irritability and convulsions.

Top 5 Sources

Avocadoes (big ol’ vitamin B source eh?), Bananas, Kale, Pineapples and Winter Squash

 

Vitamin B7 (aka Biotin, Egg White Injury**) -  we humans obtain this unique water soluble vitamin from our diet and from biotin producing bacteria in our large intestines.  Biotin is used in the breakdown of glucose (stored sugars) for energy and in energy metabolism, which is important in the production of ATP (I just geeked out).

**the term egg white injury comes from our bodies inability to absorb biotin when raw egg whites are consumed.   The protein avidin in raw whites binds biotin making it difficult to absorb, as does alcohol and high temperatures.

Top 5 Sources

Tomatoes, Avocadoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Bananas

 

B9 (aka Folate) – Folate and Folic Acid are both forms of B9.  Folate occurs naturally in fresh foods, whereas folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements. 

Folate helps to produce red blood cells as well as components of the central nervous system.  It aids in the formation and creation of our DNA, helps to maintain normal brain function and is a critical component of spinal fluid.  **Important for women who want to have a child/ who are pregnant to have a significant intake of folate to help prevent neural tube defects, to sustain proper cell growth and development of the embryo. 

Top 5 Sources

Avocadoes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Lychee’s, and Bok Choy

 

B12 – Like the other B Vitamins, B12 is important for metabolism. It helps in the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow and in the maintenance of the central nervous system.  It is also the only vitamin that is available from fish, poultry, meat or dairy sources. It can be also be found in trace amounts of Nutritional Yeast as long as it is fortified with it.

Top 5 Sources

Beef, Cow’s Milk, Eggs, Cod and Pork

**Why just animal products?  Well, animals eat and digest a lot of microorganisms that are produced in nature from the ground.   Their bodies are able to digest and ferment a large amount of bacteria, which in this case, along with cobalt, is turned into a vitamin that we need.  This is why animals are the source of this particular vitamin.

 

Vitamin C – is one of the most important of ALL Vitamins!  It plays a significant role as an antioxidant, thereby protecting body tissues from the damage of oxidation.  Antioxidants act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of the body’s metabolism.  Free radicals can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. 

Top 5 Sources

Black Currants, Grapefruit, Oranges, Bok Choy, Broccoli, and Butternut Squash

**Eat a Vitamin C source along with a source of Iron.  Vitamin C helps to transport Iron into our cells!

 

Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin!  It is manufactured by the body after being exposed to sunshine (and a few conversions later, volia!) and it can also be found in plant (D2) and animals sources (D3).  The D3 form is the one that communicates with our blood calcium levels, genes and stimulates cells to grow and mature.

Top 5 Sources

Cod Liver Oil, Oysters, Salmon, Tuna and Shiitake Mushrooms

 

Vitamin E – plays a significant role as an antioxidant, thereby protecting cell membranes and our body tissues from the damage of oxidation.  It is important in the formation of red blood cells, and the health of our eyes.  Some ladies swear by it to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, scars or stressed out skin.

Top 5 Sources

Tomatoes, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Spinach, and Hazelnuts

 

Vitamin K – is a fat soluble vitamin (has to be transported by way of a fat into our cells) and plays a critical role in blood clotting.  It regulates blood calcium levels and plays an active role in building teeth and bones.

Top 5 Sources

Kale, Spinach, Brussles Sprouts, Broccoli and Asparagus

**Excessive amounts of heat and light can destroy Vitamin K.  Steaming or stir-frying will help retain it.

 

Calcium – helps to regulate the passage of nutrients through our cell walls.  Without calcium, muscles will not contract correctly, blood will not clot, our eye sight diminishes, our energy metabolism slows down and our nerves will not carry messages. 

Top 5 Sources

Low Fat Yogurt, Collard Greens, Sardines, Spinach, and Whole Milk

**Steam or stir-fry the greens to break down the naturally occurring oxylates that prevent our bodies from absorbing the calcium.

***Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies, making up about 2.2# of our total weight!

 

Copper – involved in the absorption, storage and metabolism of Iron, the formation of red blood cells, energy production, connective tissue synthesis and a role as an antioxidant.

Top 5 Sources

Beef Liver, Oysters, Shiitake Mushrooms, Cashews, and White Beans

 

Iodine - is an essential component of the hormones produced by our thyroid gland.  Our thyroid hormones help to regulate our growth, reproduction, immune system, neural development and energy metabolism.

Top 5 Sources

Mussels, Sea Vegetables (kombu,dulse, nori), Cod, Yogurt, and Scallops

 

Iron – needed to help to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide, energy metabolism, stabilization of free radicals and synthesis of DNA.

Top 5 Sources

Clams, Turkey giblets, White Beans, Lentils, and Spinach

**these are all sources of heme iron which is the most bioavailable type of Iron.  Cook spinach to denature the phytates and polyphenols that prevent the Iron from being absorbed by our bodies.

 

Magnesium – needed for bone, proteins, making new cells, activating B Vitamins, relaxing nerves and muscles, clotting blood and in energy production.  It also assists in the absorption of Calcium, Vitamin C and Potassium.

Top 5 Sources

Halibut, Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds, White Beans, and Black Beans

 

Manganese – functions in enzymatic reactions concerning blood sugar, bone formation, assists with protecting our cells from free radicals and for energy metabolism.

Top 5 Sources

Whole Grains, Pineapples, Nuts (Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds), Legumes, and Dark Leafy Greens

 

Phosphorus – second in abundance to Calcium, phosphorus is an integral part of all cell membranes.  It is needed for skeletal health, enzymatic activation and creating energy.

Top 5 Sources

Yogurt, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Salmon and Eggs

 

Potassium – one of the 3 electrolytes that helps to keep us in check! It helps to maintain fluid balance on the outside of our cells, muscle and nerve function as well as energy metabolism.

Top 5 Sources

Dates, Raisins, Potatoes, Lima Beans, and Halibut

 

Selenium – helps to activate vitamin C, plays a major role as an Antioxidant, helps to slow down the aging process and enhances immunity.

Top 5 Sources

Brazil Nuts, Chicken giblets, Halibut, Tuna, and Shiitake Mushrooms

 

Sodium – represents the two other electrolytes that help keep us in check! Sodium is broken down into its components, Sodium (Na+)  and Choride (Cl-) help to maintain fluid balance on the inside of our cells, and helps to maintain proper functioning of muscles and nerves.

Top 5 Sources (Good Sources that is…)

Amaranth leaves, Artichokes, Broccoli, Celery, and Bok Choy

 

Zinc – is a very busy and important mineral!  It is involved in hundreds of activities involving growth, reproduction, immunity, gene expression and protein synthesis. 

Top 5 Sources

Oysters, Beef, Crab, Asparagus, and Blackberries