I have received a number of emails recently about specific nutrients and where to find them and so I am repeating this series from early 2020 which features the alternative shopping list by nutrient and the foods that supply them. At the end of the series there is a complete shopping list that you can print off.
I update mine on a regular basis and I circle foods within each nutrient that I am eating on a regular basis. This provides a snapshot of the the nutrients you are including in your diet and more importantly that you are not getting sufficient of.
If you are a regular visitor to the health colum you will know that I don’t believe in crash dieting and that your body deserves more respect than to starve it of the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
I believe in eating, and eating all food groups, just moderating the amount that you eat based on your requirements. Your body knows how to process fresh food, raw and cooked from scratch. It is not designed to extract nutrients from manufactured foods which includes the majority that come in a packet, jar or can.
Most of the lifestyle diseases we suffer from and overburden the health service with are related to the fuel we put into our bodies. The result is that millions are on pills to regulate the body’s complex chemical process rather than making the changes needed instead.
With that in mind here is part one of a shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick.
The alternative shopping list by nutrient that the body needs to be healthy – Part One
We usually compile our shopping list based on our preferences, tastes and sometimes pocket. But I have a slightly different method that you might find useful.
The chemical interactions within our body that are essential for life – including the healthy functioning of our immune system – are only made possible by the raw ingredients in our diet. Even if you are having the occasional food fest, if your basic diet contains the right raw ingredients it won’t matter to your body.
It is the everyday ingestion of sugars, Trans fats and white starches that cripple the system – I follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time your body is getting what it needs, 20% of the time you can have what your heart and taste buds would like too.
You can ring the changes within the nutritional ingredients, and whilst it is a good idea to eat seasonally,we now have access to a great many varieties of exotic fruits that give added benefit to our diets including the powerhouse, for example, that is the Avocado.
I hope you will find plenty of foods that you enjoy on this list and will incorporate others you are less familiar with so that you get plenty of variety.
First a little more about vitamins and their sources
Water Soluble Vitamins
These include all the B vitamins, vitamin C as well as Folic Acid. They are not easily stored in the body and are often lost in cooking or by being eliminated from the body. This means that they must be consumed in constant daily amounts to prevent deficiencies. In the case of Vitamin C this could lead to poor immune system function and if you are deficient in the B vitamins you will not be able to metabolise the fat, protein and carbohydrates that you eat.
Fat Soluble Vitamins.
These vitamins include A, D, E and K. Because they are soluble in fat they tend to be stored in the body’s fat tissues, fat cells and liver. This means that they should be supplemented with care if you are already taking in plenty on a daily basis in your diet. In excess even supposedly beneficial nutrients can be toxic and this is why you always should adjust your diet first before taking in additional supplements.
First the basic nutrients we need for energy and healthy functioning systems and organs. If you would like to explore each of the nutrients in more detail you can find in the link next to the foods.
Vitamins and anti-oxidants – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (Folate) B12, C, D, E, K,
Minerals – Calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc.
Amino Acids – Essential Fatty Acids – Bioflavonoids – very strong anti-oxidants.
Quite a few foods fall into several categories so I will give you the top sources within the groups- these are the foods that should make up your basic shopping with seasonal fruits and vegetables when available.
For example, spinach has Vitamin A, B1, B2, B9, E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium – (Popeye knew what he was doing)
Here is the shopping list to select foods from for each of the nutrients.
Vitamin A or Retinol was actually the first of the fat-soluble vitamins to be identified, in the States in 1913. It is only found in animal sources but some plants contain compounds called carotenoids, which give fruit and vegetables their red, orange and yellow colours. The body can convert some of these carotenoids including beta-carotene into Vitamin A.
Vitamin A – from plants: – carrots, red peppers, sweet potato, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, nectarines, peaches and spinach. Cashew nuts. Vitamin A – from animal sources: Liver, meat, fish, fish oils, free range eggs and dairy.
Vitamin B1- Thiamin
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that along with the other B vitamins and Vitamin C it travels through the blood stream and any excess is eliminated in our urine. The body cannot store thiamin but it is found in tissues within the body such as in the liver, heart, kidneys and the nervous system where it binds to enzymes. This does mean that these types of vitamins need to be replaced from our food continuously.
Vitamin B1 sources –whole grains such as brown rice, oats and whole wheat cereals and bread, beans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, pineapple, watermelon, asparagus, spinach, squash, lentils, beans, peanuts as well as oily fish, eggs, lean ham and pork.
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
Like the other B vitamins, B2 plays an important role in energy production by ensuring the efficient metabolism of the food that we eat in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It plays a key role in our nutritional processes such as its help in processing amino acids. It is also vital for the uptake of iron.
Vitamin B2 sources – All green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, almonds, fish, milk, eggs, wholegrains, wheat germ, liver and kidney
Vitamin B3 is also known in different forms as Niacin, Nicotinic Acid, Nicotinamide and Nicinamide. When the vitamin was first discovered it was called nicotinic acid but there was a concern that it would be associated with nicotine in cigarettes, leading to the false assumption that somehow smoking might provide you with nutrients. It was decided to call it Niacin instead. It works with other nutrients, particularly B1, B2, B5, B6 and biotin to break the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in food down into energy. B3 itself is essential in this process and it goes further by aiding in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to aid the digestion of food. It is actually involved in over 40 metabolic functions which shows how important it is in our levels of energy on a daily basis.
Vitamin B3 sources – Asparagus, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wholegrain bread and cereals. Chicken, Lamb, Turkey, Salmon, tuna, Venison, eggs and cheese.
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid
Like the other B vitamins, B5 plays an important role in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, which is burned to produce energy. These nutrients are also needed to breakdown fats and proteins as well as promoting the health of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes and importantly this month, the liver. Vitamin B5 has a number of roles in the body some more critical than others. One job that is vitally important is assisting in the manufacture of red blood cells as well as sex and stress related hormones.
Vitamin B5 sources – Organic (non GMO) Corn, Cauliflower, Shitake Mushrooms, Brewer’s yeast, avocado, duck, Organic (non- GMO) soybeans, lobster and strawberries.
B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that exists in three major chemical forms: Pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. B6 plays such a crucial role in so many functions of the body that a deficiency can have a huge impact on your health. It is required for over 100 enzymes that metabolise the protein that you eat. Along with the mineral Iron, it is essential for healthy blood. The nervous and immune systems also require vitamin B6 to function efficiently. It is also necessary for our overall feeling of well being as it converts the amino acid tryptophan, which is essential for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain. Without B6 you would not be able to manufacture haemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body.
Sources for vitamin B6 – wholegrain carbohydrates like brown rice, porridge oats, walnuts and sunflower seeds, bananas, avocados, salmon and tuna, dried fruit such as prunes and raisins, eggs, wheatgerm, poultry and meats such as lamb.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) is an essential water-soluble vitamin but unlike other water soluble vitamins that are normally excreted in urine very quickly, B12 accumulates and gets stored in the liver (around 80%), kidney and body tissues.
- B12 is vital for the efficient working of every cell in the body especially those with a rapid turnover as it prevents cell degeneration.
- It functions as a methyl donor and works with folic acid in the manufacture of DNA and red blood cells.
- B12 is necessary to maintain the health of the insulating sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds all nerve cells.
- It is involved in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for resetting our biological clock’s rhythm when we change to new time zones, and also helps us sleep
Sources for Vitamin B12– B12 is present in meats apart from offal, eggs and dairy products. It is better to drink a cold glass of full fat milk than to eat yoghurt as the fermentation process destroys most of the B12 as does boiling milk. One of the best sources is Marmite with 25% of your daily requirement in one 5gm serving…
There are very few sources, if any of B12 in plants, although some people do believe that eating fermented Soya products, sea weeds and algae will provide the vitamin. However analysis of these products shows that whilst some of them do contain B12 it is in the form of B12 analogues which are unable to be absorbed by the human body.
I hope that you have found this useful, and at the end of the series I will post a complete shopping list for you to copy and print off.
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews
Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.