Nature has provided an amazing array of nutrients. And it would be unfair to say that one is better than another because they all have a very valid place in helping to provide the body with great health.
However, there are certainly some superstars amongst them which are even more essential for our continued daily wellness.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares five of the best.
Called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, we know the UK population is widely lacking in vitamin D, despite an active Government health campaign.
It’s not easy to get to sufficient vitamin D from sunlight alone, even during the summer, therefore it’s important to take a supplement all year round. With so much robust research on vitamin D, we understand even more about the essential role it plays in our health.
Vitamin D is not just needed for bones and teeth but its part in supporting the immune system is unequivocal. Furthermore, if you’re feeling ‘sad’ you could be lacking in vitamin D. It’s important for our mood too.
As with all the B-vitamins, Vitamin B12 is needed for many of the body’s biochemical reactions. It’s primarily found in animal produce, making vegetarians and vegans potentially more at risk from deficiency, but anyone can be lacking in B12.
If you’re lacking specifically in vitamin B12, then you might notice it more than with other B-vitamins. If you’re unusually tired or your nerves are frayed, then you might need more B12. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, a supplement is recommended, but for others, load up on liver, beef, tuna, sardines or fortified cereals and nutritional yeast.
If you’re suffering from muscle stiffness or poor sleep, the chances are you’re deficient in magnesium. Since it works in balance with calcium, in areas where the water is especially ‘chalky, many people are lacking magnesium.
Magnesium is an extremely busy mineral and plays an essential role in many biochemical reactions in the body. It’s needed for muscle relaxation hence poor sleep can result when there is insufficient magnesium in the body. If this sounds like you, then eat plenty of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds – all healthy foods too!
Zinc is involved in around 300 different enzyme reactions throughout the body. In short, the body can’t function without zinc. Whilst many people know it to be essential for the immune system (which it is), zinc is very important for hormone balance, the skin, bones, hair, and protection from disease.
Zinc is rich in meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Indeed, the best source of zinc is oysters, hence their reputation as being an aphrodisiac, linked to zinc’s role in hormone production. If you’ve white spots on five or more of your nails, you might be deficient in zinc, so do keep a watchful eye on intake.
Iodine is a trace mineral so is only needed in small amounts, but it still plays a vital role in the body. Iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormones, for cognitive function and supports growth and development in children. In short, it’s needed from the moment of conception and throughout life.
As part of its role in producing thyroid hormones, it’s needed to control metabolism. If you’re struggling to lose weight or your hands and feet are permanently cold, you might be lacking in iodine.
Part of the issue with getting sufficient iodine is that it’s not present in many foods. It can be found in dairy produce and fish such as cod and tuna. Seaweed is also a great source of iodine. Varieties include kelp, wakame and nori and are available in dried, flaked forms, which can easily be added to many dishes, without disturbing other tastes too much.
Take some time to review your diet, and ensure you’re not missing out on any of these essential nutrients.
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