If you don’t choose real, whole foods on a daily basis and primarily choose highly processed foods, signs of inflammation and disease could easily pop up. Examples of conditions that could progressively get worse with poor nutrition are things like leaky gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, hormonal disturbances, thyroid problems, autoimmune disorders like Celiac Disease, heart disease, diabetes, and unfortunately many more.
In addition to macronutrient content (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) it’s good to know a bit about micronutrient content (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients), as well. This could help you choose a variety of foods that will ultimately lead you to good health.
Below is a list of vitamins and minerals and a short description of what each is responsible for in the body. As you can see, one little vitamin or mineral could play a large part in our overall health:
Fat-soluble vitamins (found in animal fat and oils)
- Vitamin A (retinol) helps with normal vision, plays a role in the regeneration of skin, fights off infections, is necessary for regular lung function and the digestive system. Retinol and its provitamin beta-carotin are found in yellow, green and orange fruits and vegetables (apricots, peach, lettuce and carrots). Retinol from animal-based sources is found in whole milk, egg yolks, liver and oily fish. An insufficiency in vitamin A leads to a reduction in vision, dryness of the skin and hair loss.
- Vitamin D (calciferol). This hormone-like substance is a steroid that regulates the level of calcium in the blood and bone tissue. It occurs in two forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3. Vitamins D2 and D3 are formed under the impact of ultraviolet light from its precursors: the provitamins ergosterol and 7-dehydrocholesterol. Vitamin D is found in the liver of marine fish, mushrooms, dairy products and eggs. A deficit in vitamin D among children causes rickets, and in adults it causes an erosion of calcium in the bones (osteoporosis). In general, a vitamin D deficiency can also cause hormonal imbalance, thyroid issues, infertility, and even cancer.
- Vitamin E supports the development of sex hormones, the condition of the skin and cell membranes. It is found in foods such as wheat germ, spices like paprika, sunflower seeds, and almonds. A vitamin E deficiency can cause acne, vision disturbances and even faults in the reproductive system.
- Vitamin K is responsible for regular coagulation in the blood, its deficiency leads to a tendency to bleed. It also plays an active role in bone preservation. Its source is in green plants and the liver.
So, the next time you consider how many carbohydrates, proteins, or fats you have eaten, be sure to take the above list into account as well. A little awareness of what vitamins and minerals you eat could go a long way.