Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients that need others to be efficiently absorbed by the body. Vitamin C, D, K , Calcium and Magnesium

The health supplement industry is worth billions of dollars and pounds annually. However, there is a danger that we will turn to the magic of pills or sprays to provide us with the nutrients that should be provided by foods as we restrict our diets in line with the latest official edicts.

The reality is that your body absorbs the nutrients that it requires from food, because over the last few hundred thousand years, that is how we have evolved. Not just humans but every animal across the millions of species, has also evolved that way. Which is why, however enriched a dry dog or cat food might be, it can never take the place of real meat, fish, fowl and some plants that animals would consume in the wild.

Put aside the fact for a moment that we are intelligent human beings, and look at your body as a fine example of thousands of years of fine tuning. Part of our problem with health and obesity is that we have gone from foraging and hunting and being opportunistic eaters, to being able to walk into a supermarket and pick stuff off the shelves all year around.

The body requires a wide range of nutrients to obtain what it needs, and up until the food industry began importing foreign produce and canning foods, we would have eaten seasonally. Do you get into May or June and start to crave crisp salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions? Do you get to October and suddenly want to dive into root vegetable stews and soups and mashed swede or parsnips with a pudding of berries on porridge? That is your ancestral instinct for seasonal foods.

Now that we can pick and choose our food to buy rather than gather… it does mean that sometimes we are not getting the right combination of nutrients together to be effective. Some nutrients require other vitamins or minerals to be absorbed by the body and this applies not only to the food that we consume but any supplements that we take.

Let me give you some examples.

You will usually see calcium supplements sold as either Calcium and Magnesium or Calcium and Vitamin D3.

CALCIUM: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher dietary calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women. If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer.

 

The best dietary sources are dairy (moderate intake) milk (semi-skimmed is good), yogurt, cheese such as Feta and cottage cheese sardines, canned salmon (the bones), green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli, kale and spinach; soy products such as tofu and nuts such as almonds. Figs and oranges, fortified oats and other cereals, almond or rice milk and even tinned baked beans.

Although an excess of dietary calcium is indicated as lowering levels of Vitamin D it actually requires Vitamin D to be absorbed efficiently from the stomach and for the various calcium functions within the body. Which means that you would need to increase foods that contain Vitamin D or obtain adequate amounts of sunshine to allow your body to produce effectively to help boost your immune system and to prevent diseases such as prostate cancer.

VITAMIN D: CHOLECALCIFEROL; Essential for maintaining blood levels of calcium by increasing absorption from food and decreasing loss from urine. This maintains a balance preventing calcium from being removed from the stores in the bones. It also plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system and blood cell formation. It may protect against prostate cancer. It is needed for adequate levels of insulin and may protect the body from Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile diabetes.

Why Vitamin D is essential for healthy bone density

A network of collagen fibres forms the base of bone and they are then overlaid with minerals. The strength of the finished bone is dependent on the amount of mineralisation that takes place. Osteoclasts will remove old bone when needed and this results in a need to produce new collagen matrix to attract new minerals for the repair process.

Here is an example of healthy bone.

normal-bone-micrograph

Vitamin D is essential to ensure that sufficient calcium and phosphorus is attracted to the new matrix and that strong new bone is produced. It begins its work in the intestines where your food is processed and assists in the absorption of calcium. If you are deficient in Vitamin D the bone becomes calcium depleted (osteomalacia) increasing your risk of fractures.

Unfortunately, if you are deficient in this vitamin more bone is discarded than replaced leading to soft and malformed bones.

osteoporotic-bone-micrograph

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is mainly synthesised by the body during exposure to sunlight although it is also found in Cod liver oil, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and free-range eggs. It is also added to fortify milk and cereals including in bread. 

As you can see from the above calcium and Vitamin D work together.

However, during the winter months when sunlight is restricted there is a danger that the relationship will become one sided with the constant intake of calcium in everyday foods but a decrease in available vitamin D.

If you cannot get enough Vitamin D through the winter months from eating an increase in oily fish or eggs, then you can opt to take a Vitamin D3 supplement. For example I take it in a spray form that is absorbed quickly into the body through my cheek membranes..

But taking a Vitamin D3 supplement adds another wrinkle.

To activate the D3 supplement and to prevent the calcium build up in the bloodstream, you need to make sure that you have adequate intake of both magnesium and Vitamin K2.

MAGNESIUM: It is essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium.

The best food sources are whole grains such as brown rice and oats, almonds, bananas, beans, pumpkinseeds and sesame seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale, Brussel Sprouts, mushrooms, egg yolks soybeans and fish. Chicken, lamb and turkey, white fish and tuna.

VITAMIN K: PHYLLOQUINONE; Necessary for proper bone formation and blood clotting, and has been largely ignored until relatively recently, as not just necessary, but essential for bone health and cardiovascular health because of its working relationship with calcium.

The vitamin is fat-soluble and is stored in the liver. Studies indicate that approximately 50% of the stores come from our diet and the balance from bacteria in the intestines. We need healthy bile production for efficient absorption of Vitamin K and our lymphatic system circulates it throughout the body.

Vitamin K1 is mainly found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and dark lettuce, raw cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, and olive oil. It is also produced by the body from bacteria in the intestines.

There are two forms of of the Vitamin and K2 (MENAQUINONE) and since the focus on Vitamin K has always been on blood clotting, it is only recently that the significance of inadequate amounts of K2 has been identified.

Without adequate K2 in relation to Vitamin D (particularly as a supplement) there is an over absorption of calcium leading to deposits in the arteries and heart disease.

Therefore K2 is essential to help maintain the calcium in our bones and prevent it leaching into the bloodstream; resulting in not only harmful calcium deposits but also osteoporosis.

 

Best food sources for K2 are in organ meats such as liver, egg yolks and  butter, milk, cheese such as Brie and Gouda and fermented foods such as Sauerkraut etc. (Fermented foods help maintain a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and as Vitamin K is also produced in the gut it is a great addition to your diet)

In Summary:

To ensure that you maintain the correct balance of calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 you need to combine foods during the day that provide you with adequate amounts of each.

As you have seen from the food sources there are some that handily combine one or more of the nutrients. If you were to compile your breakfast, lunch and evening meal with a component or a joint component from each of these food selections, you would be going a long way to achieving adequate intake of them all. This will help to prevent some of the age related diseases such as heart disease.

Calcium

The best dietary sources are dairy (moderate intake) milk (semi-skimmed is good), yogurt, cheese such as Feta and cottage cheese sardines, canned salmon (the bones), green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli, kale and spinach; soy products such as tofu and nuts such as almonds. Figs and oranges, fortified oats and other cereals, almond or rice milk and even tinned baked beans.

Vitamin D

It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is mainly synthesised by the body during exposure to sunlight although it is also found in Cod liver oil, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and free-range eggs. It is also added to fortify milk and cereals including in bread.

Magnesium

The best food sources are whole grains such as brown rice and oats, almonds, bananas, beans, pumpkinseeds and sesame seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale, Brussel Sprouts, mushrooms, egg yolks soybeans and fish. Chicken, lamb and turkey, white fish and tuna.

Vitamin K2 in varing forms such as MK-4 and MK-7 which are just as effective.

Best food sources are in organ meats such as liver, chicken, pork, duck, herrings, egg yolks and  butter, milk, cheese and fermented foods such as Sauerkraut etc. (Fermented foods help maintain a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and as Vitamin K is also produced in the gut it is a great addition to your diet)

Here are some ideas and you can mix and match from each of the groups to vary your meals.

Breakfast – A bowl of porridge with semi-skimmed milk and a chopped banana. Glass of fortified orange juice.

Snack – Handful of pumpkin seeds.

Lunch – A two egg omelette made with milk, cheese and spinach, served with a spinach, tomato and avocado salad and a slice of wholegrain bread and butter.

Snack – An orange

Dinner – Roast pork with broccoli, brown rice, carrots and a dessertspoon of sauerkraut or other pickled vegetables. Followed by a yoghurt with chopped dried apricots.

If you are taking these nutrients in supplement form.

If you are taking a Calcium and D3 supplement, then I suggest that you look at changing to a Calcium and Magnesium combined supplement, and during the winter months particularly when sunlight is in short supply, a Vitamin D3 and a separate K2 supplement.

You might find these posts of interest .

The progression of Osteoporosis over 50.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-skeleton-the-progresson-of-osteoporosis-over-50-2/

A brief overview of the nutrients we need and the foods that supply them.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/nutrient-directory-a-brief-overview-of-the-nutrients-we-need-and-the-foods-that-supply-them/

 

A bit about my nutritional background.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

 

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients that need others to be efficiently absorbed by the body. Vitamin C, D, K , Calcium and Magnesium

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health  – The Militant Negro™

  2. This is such an informative post, Sally. I have been learning about some of this in my course but as always, you make it so much easier to understand. I love the suggestions for meals that incorporate all of the nutrients you mentioned, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients that need others to be efficiently absorbed by the body. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  4. Wow Sally Brilliantly Informative, the whole body’s workings are so closely tied together that as you say rather than rely on Health-food products it is much more sensible to follow a balanced healthy diet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a terrific writer as well as a very wise and knowledgeable human being. These posts are gently and thoroughly informative AND inspiring. I know I have been reading and commenting on a lot of what you share, Sally, but this is because I am now a big fan. I am glad to be reminded that ‘The reality is that your body absorbs the nutrients that it requires from food, because over the last few hundred thousand years, that is how we have evolved. Not just humans but every animal across the millions of species, has also evolved that way.” I often think that we modern human beings run into problems again and again when we discover and then act on a one-to-one correlation because nature seems more often to be linked together with one-to-five (or one-to-five hundred!) connections/correlations/feedback loops. I hope you will consider writing about the amazing things that the BILLIONS of bacteria do in our digestive tract — such as synthesize vitamin K and serotonin and all sorts of other useful substances to keep their host organism (us!) alive and well. ps: I had the urge to eat a can of sardines today for lunch. Maybe my bones were calling for a little more vitamin D to circulate in my bloodstream.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As always, Sally, this post is extremely informative and written so that we can understand. Your suggested foods will be a great help in learning to include these nutrients naturally. Love and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients that work better with others (Part Two) – Iron and Vitamin C and B2 by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  9. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the Body Needs – Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  10. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the body needs – Magnesium – Deficiency Alert | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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