Kate's Cuisine

Jun 12 2009

Calcium

We all know how important calcium is from the time we are born it seems. It’s no secret that calcium is a huge part of the proper development of bones and teeth and because of this, it’s vital that children receive enough calcium because the early years of bone and teeth development are so vital to their health. It’s also critical that we get enough calcium as we grow up to maintain that health and as we get older to get even more because our bones and teeth begin to get so brittle and delicate at this time. But even though it plays such a huge part in this part of our development and health, calcium does even more.

Calcium helps our muscles contract, our blood clot, secretes enzymes and hormones, and also helps with nerve function. Calcium also helps our blood vessels contract and dilate, which is vital to all parts of health. In addition to all of this, calcium is also thought to help protect against certain diseases and conditions such as high cholesterol, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Because calcium is such a vital nutrient, it makes sense that we would need a lot of it every day. Men and women should both make sure they get 1000mg/day and once over the age of 50, that should be increased to 1200mg/day. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium but it can also be found in many fruits and vegetables. Kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, turnips, bok choy, parsley, and some types of seaweed are all great sources of calcium. Canned fish, especially the type with bones still in it, are also great ways to get more calcium and beverages such as orange juice and soy milk are often fortified with calcium.

Jun 12 2009

Folate

Folate, also known as folic acid, is beneficial for many things but what it’s most known for is its importance during pregnancy and for fetal development. The fact is that folate is extremely important during fetal formation as it can greatly reduce the risk of problems with the spine and brain, especially during the very early weeks of pregnancy. Because of this, women who are thinking of getting pregnant should take an additional 400ug/day of folate in addition to the 400ug/day that both men and women should take.

Folate is also helpful for much more than fetal development. This essential nutrient helps get energy from food and also helps with cell division as well as red blood cell formation. Folate also helps convert Vitamin B12 into a form that can be metabolized and it helps prevent anemia and cancer.

Citrus fruits and their juices, as well as leafy, green vegetables are thought to be the best food sources of folate. Legumes, poultry, and enriched grain products can also be good ways to get more folate into your diet.

Jun 12 2009

Choline

Choline is something that you actually need quite a bit of, but it comes in many forms and from many foods that we eat. Men need 550mg/day of choline while women need 425mg/day.

Choline is extremely important because it’s an essential part of cell wall membranes, which means that it can help make every cell in your body stronger. Choline also helps create neurotransmitters in the brain and it also acts as a precursor to betaine, which can help prevent heart disease.

Many foods do have choline in them however dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, liver, and cauliflower are all especially good choices.

Jun 12 2009

Biotin

Biotin is another one of those words that we may often hear but don’t really understand. Found on food labels and thought to be a good thing, Biotin certainly pulls its own weight, even if not many know what it does.

Biotin helps get energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and it also helps the body utilize Vitamin B. It also helps create fatty acids, which can also be an essential part of brain development. What perhaps you may be most thankful for to biotin however is that it plays an essential role in the process of gluconeogenesis, which is when the body begins to break down protein during periods of extreme hunger.

The body does make some biotin in the GI tract but not nearly enough for that to be the only source of the essential nutrient. It can be found in many foods although egg yolks, meats, fish, soybeans, whole grains, and dark leafy vegetables are the best sources.

Men and women both need 30ug/day of biotin.

Jun 12 2009

Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic Acid may sound like something extremely foreign but the truth is that it’s in just about every plant or animal food that we eat. So really, just about anything. Because of this, it’s fairly easy for men and women to get 5 mg of the vitamin every day.

Pantothenic acid helps turn the food we eat into the energy we need and it also helps our body make use of other vitamins. Nerve function is also greatly helped by pantothenic acid.

Jun 12 2009

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is part of the Vitamin B complex that although is thought to have no side effects. This makes it a much more desirable option as a supplement than the B6 vitamin in the same family. Vitamin B12 helps with much of the same things the B6 vitamin does such as extracting energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; and it also plays a role in the development and maintenance of the central nervous system. Vitamin B12 also releases the metabolically active form of folate and helps with bone metabolism as well as cell formation. Also similar to Vitamin B6, B12 can also help prevent anemia.

Perhaps because it’s not known to be as aggressive as Vitamin B6, the daily recommended requirements are also not as stringent. Men and women both over the age of 19 are advised to be sure to get 2.4ug/day. However, as we become older, our bodies can’t absorb Vitamin B12 as well and so it’s advised that we eat more Vitamin B12-enriched foods and supplements.

The best ways to get more Vitamin B12 into your diet are by eating meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk products. Breakfast cereals are also often enriched with Vitamin B12.

Jun 12 2009

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is part of the Vitamin B complex and depending on what you’ve needed it for or taken it for, you may have heard varying things about it. Vitamin B6 is critical for maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and helping prevent heart disease by also ensuring that the body’s homocysteine levels are also on track but these really are just a few of the benefits that Vitamin B6 provides.

Vitamin B6 helps metabolize carbohydrates and proteins and it helps create niacin from amino acids. During metabolism, Vitamin B6 also transports iron thereby preventing anemia. Also, both the immune system the central nervous system benefit from Vitamin B6.

Because Vitamin B6 plays such an important role in so many bodily functions, it’s essential that your body has proper amounts of it at all time. A deficiency can cause great problems but so can excess levels of the vitamin. Those who have an excess of Vitamin B6, or are just becoming accustomed to raising their levels to normal through a supplement, may find that they are jittery, have digestion problems, and you could also experience more serious neurological problems. These side effects are generally only present if there’s a severe deficiency or excess but it’s still always important to talk to a doctor before taking these supplements.

Men between the ages of 19-50 should be getting 1.3mg/day and over the age of 50, that amount should be increased to 1.7mg/day. Women who are 19-50 should make sure they have 1.3mg/day and once over the age of 50, that amount goes up to 1.5mg/day.

The best food sources of Vitamin B6 are meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and potatoes. Fruits and vegetables are not usually good sources of Vitamin B6 but watermelon and bananas are a couple of exceptions to that rule.

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