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Vitamins and Minerals with Lynn Goldstein, MS, RD, CDN

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Hi, everybody. Welcome to the class. My name is Lynn Goldstein, and this is Vitamins and Minerals, otherwise known as our micronutrients. Vitamins and minerals used in the body is very scientific and complex, and you don't really need to know every detail, but I'm going to try to give you the basics on the differences between vitamins and minerals and where we get them in our food supply and how the body utilizes them, so you have some understanding. Vitamins are classified either as water-soluble or fat-soluble, basically meaning they either need water or they need fat to be digested and absorbed. We have nine different water-soluble vitamins, which includes vitamin C and our eight B vitamins. The B vitamin group is thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folate, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Then we have four fat-soluble vitamins, and those vitamins A, D, E, and K. Minerals are classified as either trace or major. Our major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulphur. Our trace minerals include iron, iodine, zinc, chromium, selenium, fluoride, molybdenum, copper, and manganese. The only difference between the major and the trace are really in referring to the amounts that our bodies needed not at all the level of importance in the body. Trace minerals are just needed in much smaller amounts than our major minerals. Vitamins are organic compounds, which means they contain carbon in their structure and obviously essential for life. Minerals are inorganic compounds as they don't contain any carbon. They're more simple in their chemical structure than vitamins. Vitamins are much more vulnerable to heat, light, and chemical agents, so for vitamins, cooking, food preparation, processing, and storage are really important to preserve the vitamins in our food. Minerals, however, are much more stable. You really won't lose a lot of minerals in food preparation, but they can be lost when they're bound to other substances in the food. For example, in spinach and tea, we have substances called oxalates and in legumes and grains, you've got substances called phytates, and these substances actually bind to minerals, and when they're bound to the minerals, they make it difficult or impossible for our body to consume all of them. I'm going to start the discussion with vitamins and give you a quick rundown of the major vitamins and what we need them for and where we find them. First, vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Actually, vitamin A can technically be both water-soluble and fat-soluble, depending on the source. We've got the active form of vitamin A, which is called retinol, and that's a fat-soluble vitamin, but then you have a precursor to vitamin A, and that's your carotenoids, like beta carotene, which is actually water soluble. Vitamin A is important for vision, especially our night vision. It also repairs bones and tissue, and it's involved in reproduction and fetal development, and it's really important for our immune system to fight off infections. Food sources of vitamin A include whole eggs, milk products, and beef liver. Non-fat dairy products are typically fortified with vitamin A, because when we take the fat out of dairy products, you lose the vitamin A, because that form of vitamin A is the retinol. That's the fat-soluble one. The precursor, beta carotene for the other carotenoids are found in our vegetables and our fruits. They're found in dark green and rich yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, which is carrots, cantaloupes, and sweet potatoes. The B vitamins--that big class of vitamins-- the nine vitamins are all important for the process the body must go through to convert the food we eat and absorb into energy--into usable energy. All of our body's cells have the ability to turn our food into energy, meaning that's how we move, that's how our organs function. It's all energy. One of the systems is called the Kreb Cycle, but there are many different cycles that the cells utilize to turn the food we eat into usable energy. The B vitamins are all very important in that process. All B vitamins are involved in those processes. There are some additional things that B vitamins do; for example, thiamine, also known as B1 is important for our nervous system, our heart muscles, and it also regulates our appetite. B2, or riboflavin, is important. It plays a role in our mucus membranes and our skin. Vitamin B6 is important. It's involved in maintaining what's known as homocysteine levels, and that has something to do with protecting our body from heart disease. And folic acid, which is probably one of the most common known B vitamins besides obviously helping, like I said, turn food into energy in the body, reduces the risk of brain and spinal cord damage during the first few weeks of pregnancy, so it ensures proper cell division and also red blood cell formation. So it's very important for women who are of child bearing age or who are planning on becoming pregnant or who are actually already pregnant to consume enough folic acid to prevent neural tube deficiencies. One of the most common neural tube deficiencies that you probably heard of is called spina bifida. Folic acid is essential for that. B vitamins in general are really widespread in the food supply. They're found mostly in vegetables. They're also found in a lot of animal products, such as meat, dairy, and a lot of foods are fortified with B vegetables. There's one B vitamin that is a little more difficult to get, and that's B12. B12 is a little bit different in that it is not found in plant foods. It's only found in animal foods and certain foods are actually fortified with it, so this is important for someone who is a vegan, because obviously they are not consuming any animal foods, so someone who's a vegan needs to either supplement with B12 or make sure they're getting enough foods that are fortified with it. Vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin, is also known as ascorbic acid, protects against harmful effects of free radicals, which can damage our cells, so vitamin C is known as an antioxidant, and when you think of a quick explanation of that-- for those of you who don't know, if you take an apple, and you cut it in half and leave it out in the open in the air, it turns brown rather quickly. That's because the exposure to oxygen in the air damages the cells of the apple. Well our bodies undergo--obviously oxygen's a big part of how we move and how we live, but oxygen can cause damage to our cells as well. Not only does oxygen cause a problem; toxins that we take in, cigarette smoke, toxins in the air, chemicals, et cetera. There's a lot of damage that happens to our cells with all of that, and our cells can become oxidized. Well certain vitamins and some minerals act as antioxidants. Vitamin C is one of them. So if you were to take that apple and put lemon juice on top of it and let it sit on the counter, you'll notice it will take much longer for it to turn brown or even it won't turn brown at all, because the vitamin C is one of the components of that lemon juice that are acting as an antioxidant, so it's protecting the flesh of that apple. Vitamin C also assists in the formation of collagen, which is important for healthy blood vessels and gums and the development of bones and teeth. It's also needed for wound healing. Vitamin C helps resist infections. It has been used to treat the common cold. There's a lot of controversy whether that is actually something that it does, but it has been used for that. It also has been found to decrease the risk of cancer and possibly heart disease. One quick note with vitamin C and colds, now that we're going into the cold and flu season. A lot of people believe that the vitamin C will actually prevent or help treat the common cold, and whether it does or it doesn't, one thing that vitamin C will do, especially in supplementation form is actually have a histaminic effect, which basically it acts as an antihistamine. So when we take antihistamines, you get less mucus, less sneezing, less itchy eyes, so it actually acts as something that prevents it, so you might actually still have the cold, but vitamin C might make you feel a little bit better, so it seems like it's decreasing the span of the cold-- just a little tip there for vitamin C people. Common food sources include fruits and vegetables, particularly bell pepper, kiwis, oranges, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, potatoes, bananas, and carrots, to name a few, so vitamin C is obviously pretty widespread in our plant supply. The next vitamin that's very important-- and I really like talking to people about vitamin D is because we're learning so much more about the importance of vitamin D in these last few years, and actually the recommended dietary amount of vitamin D are going up. They used to be about 400, and now we think that's way too low. Most people are actually deficient in vitamin D, and the recommendations may go up to well over 1,000, especially for someone that has got some other health risks, like bone disease or even some cancers-- they're connecting to low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is our sunshine vitamin, so obviously we get it from the sun. It's a little bit different than other vitamins. Actually vitamin D is a little more like a hormone than it is an actual vitamin, but it's actually-- the cells of our skin absorb the sunlight and actually convert that to a usable form of vitamin D in the body. But a lot of people are becoming deficient, especially since the--and I say this loosely, but the overuse of sunscreen. It's important obviously to use sunscreen. We don't want to get skin cancer. However, sunscreen is now in everything we put in our body and because of this people are really avoiding all exposure to sun, and yes, that may be good in decreasing our skin cancer risk; unfortunately what it's doing is causing your cells to not absorb vitamin D from the sun, so we're getting deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is important to maintain our calcium and our phosphorus levels in the body. It increases the absorption of them. Obviously calcium and phosphorus are needed to maintain our bones and teeth, so vitamin D is essential for our bone and our teeth development and maintenance. It also prevents deformation diseases, such as rickets, which is in children and osteomalacia in adults, so our bone loss basically--it's important -- and for children--rickets is not something that's super common in this country, although it's becoming a little more common. It's just poor bone formation in children and then bone loss in adults. Vitamin D effects immune function, cell growth. It's involved in fetal development. It's lately been connected to a lot of different cancers. Although the primary source is the sun, we also get vitamin D through fatty fish, such as cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. Milk and milk products are typically fortified with vitamin D, and you can also find it in egg yolk and beef liver. So as you can see, it is pretty limited and certainly very limited for our vegetarians and vegans. So vitamin D--first and foremost, it's important to get sun exposure. We need to get a good 15 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week on our arms and our face. And if you can't do that or if you're not getting it through the diet, it's important to supplement with vitamin D. The next fat-soluble vitamin is vitamin E. Vitamin E is another one of those that acts as an antioxidant, so as I said, it scavenges for free radicals and it helps prevent damage to our cells. Vitamin E has also been connected to preventing cardiovascular disease and also preventing some cancers. It contributes to our immune system function, and it's also involved in DNA repair. The best sources for vitamin E are wheat germ oil, fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables. It's in some nuts and beans and some whole grains. Vitamin K, also a fat-soluble vitamin, is essential for our blood clotting, so it prevents hemorrhaging diseases. It's also involved in the synthesis of bone proteins, as well. Vitamin K is found pretty widespread in the diet. It's in green leafy vegetables. It's also found in beef liver, but to a lesser extent, it's found in milk, eggs, meats, cereals, and other fruits and vegetables, but our body can actually also synthesize some vitamin K. The bacteria in our large intestine can synthesize it and we absorb it in our large intestine. It's not enough to give the body all it needs, but we do get some through that method. So vitamin K is actually partially essential, because we can make some of it. I'm going to touch on the minerals now. I'm not going to go over all of them, because there's a lot of them, but I'm going to go over the main ones that I get questions about and the ones that you've heard. The first one obviously is calcium. Calcium is involved in our bone and teeth structure, but calcium does more than just our bones. It also aids muscle contractions. It's important for blood clotting. It's involved in blood vessel constriction and dilation. It's involved in the secretion of enzymes and hormones and it also plays a role in our nervous system function. It prevents against osteopenia and osteoporosis, and it also is involved with preventing hypertension. In addition to that, there is some connection to calcium and high blood cholesterol, calcium and diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity, so it's important to get enough calcium, obviously, in the diet. Calcium is pretty widespread in the diet. Most people obviously just assume dairy is the number one, and dairy does contain calcium, obviously, but we don't always absorb it so much from dairy. It's not necessarily the best way to go as for calcium intake, but there is a lot there. In this country especially, dairy is probably the number one source of our calcium, but it's also found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, mustard and turnip greens. It's also found in bok choy, parsley, watercress, and even some seaweeds. You can also find calcium in canned fish with edible bones, so canned salmon or sardines that have edible bones, and we fortify certain foods, such as juices, soy milk, cereals, and tofu-- the way tofu is made is typically processed with calcium so you can get it that way, as well. Fluoride is obviously very important for our teeth. That's the way we always think of it. It plays a role in bone health, contributes to bone mineralization, prevents tooth decay, and prevents cavities. Fluoride is found mostly in our water or our soil. It's found in some plant foods and some animals foods but particularly the best sources are tap water, not our bottled water, but our tap water, teas, and seafood. And for most people, especially children-- our toothpastes are often fortified with fluoride. Iodine. I want to talk about iodine just a little bit, because there's so many thyroid problems in our country, but it is required for the production of thyroid hormones. Our thyroid hormones control our metabolism. Iodine is needed for the prevention of goiters and cretinism, which is basically a mental and physical retardation. Foods that include iodine include iodized salts, but you can also find it actually in seafood, also iodine fortified breads and dairy products. Iron. Although iron is a trace mineral, obviously it's a really very important one. It's needed for the formation of hemoglobin in the blood or myoglobin in the muscle. Both of these are how our body carries oxygen around to our cells. It's involved with energy metabolism. It's also involved in immune system. It helps regulate cell growth, and it's obviously--we need it to prevent iron deficiency anemia. The best sources of iron are--we have got two sources. You've got plant sources, and we've got animal sources. Animal sources include red meat, organ meat, some fish, some poultry, some eggs. Plant sources include beans, lentils, whole and enriched grains, green leafy vegetables, and some dried fruits. We absorb the iron from animal foods better. The plant iron can be absorbed. There's ways you can actually increase the absorption of plant iron. One of them is with vitamin C. When you consume a vitamin C source with a plant source that has iron, we actually improve the absorption of vitamin C. The other way-- it doesn't do a great deal, but it does a little bit and is helpful for someone who's anemic that wants to focus mostly on plant foods is if you cook in cast iron pots-- if you were to cook something that simmers for a long time, like soups or stews, tomato sauces, you can actually--the more acidic, the better, but you can actually-- that food will absorb the iron from that cast iron pot, and we can consume it, so that's another way to get iron in the body if it's needed. Magnesium is a very important mineral to discuss. First and foremost, it assists in nerve and muscle function. It's involved in energy metabolism, and it's also involved in helping control our blood sugar levels. It's involved in muscle contractions and blood clotting. Magnesium is part of our bones and our teeth. It does support our immune system, and it also helps prevent hypertension, diabetes, and some heart disease, but the other thing about magnesium is it helps prevent constipation, which is really important because so many people suffer from constipation, especially those with low-fiber diets, but it's important to note for someone who has constipation that has tried to increase the fiber and fluid in their diet, they can also try magnesium, because that is helpful. Food sources include green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and certain water--what's known as hard tap water has magnesium in it. Phosphorus is important for both bone and tooth structure. Phosphorus is part of DNA and RNA, so therefore it assists in growth. It's essential for energy metabolism, and it also activates some B vitamins. There's phosphorus in basically all animal and plant cells, so phosphorus deficiency is pretty rare, but it's very high in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, legumes, and whole grains. Potassium is one of our electrolytes, and it helps maintain obviously our water and electrolyte balance, but potassium is very important for heart and muscle and nervous system. For someone who has kidney disease, for example, they've got a hard time regulating potassium, and that can be very dangerous, because too high or too low blood potassium can actually lead to heart failure. Potassium is found in all animal food products, so deficiency is pretty rare, but it's very high in fresh, whole, unprocessed foods, vegetables, fruits, some meats, dairy, legumes, and grains. Selenium is very interesting mineral, because it's the only mineral that acts as an antioxidant, just like the vitamin C, as I mentioned earlier, and the vitamin E does. Selenium also helps regulate thyroid function, and it assists in our immune system function, and there is some connection to selenium and the decreased risk of certain cancers. The presence in food depends on the presence of selenium in the soil, but there is selenium in meat products, so it's in meat, chicken, seafood, fish, eggs. Brazil nuts are rather high in selenium. Also some grains, garlic, and mushrooms. And sodium, another electrolyte mineral-- again, essential for regulating our water balance. It's also required for nerve and muscle activity, and sodium is essential for our acid base balance and helps with the absorption of water and some other nutrients in the body. The primary source of sodium in our diet is processed foods. Anything that's packaged or boxed or canned typically has sodium in it, but obviously our table salt is our other source of sodium. Certain foods like soy sauce have sodium. Certain natural foods such as seaweed also contain some sodium in them. The last mineral I'm going to touch on is zinc, and it assists in the activity of enzymes in the body. It's also very essential for immune system function, but zinc is very important mostly for wound healing. There's also some connection to zinc and insulin production, and it assists in thyroid function. Zinc is found in meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, whole grains, and it's also fortified in cereals and legumes. That is a basic rundown of most of the vitamins and minerals and how they function in the body. As you can see, it's pretty complex, and there's a lot more functions to each of them, but that gives you a general idea. The next thing I want to touch upon is supplementation, because I think that's probably something of interest to most of you when talking about vitamins and minerals, and I really often get asked, "Should I supplement or should I not supplement?" by a lot of the clients that I work with, and I think as you start working with people, you're probably going to get that same question. The answer, truthfully, is a difficult one. There's really no clear-cut answer as to who needs a supplement and how much and whether they really work or not work. It really comes all down to how much of that supplement we absorb. Just because you pop a multivitamin that has 100% of all your needs doesn't mean you absorb all of that, and we don't need 100% of all our needs in our vitamin, because we're eating, so a well-balanced diet in a perfect world should really provide everything we need, but in the real world--realistically, it depends on what we eat, how much of what we eat, where do get our food from, how far that food has traveled, how have we processed that food, how have we cooked that food, how long has that food been sitting on the shelf or in a refrigerator? All of these things are factors in how much nutrient is available for our body to absorb from that food. So in reality, most people probably do not get all of their needs met every single day, and our needs change on a daily basis, so it's important to consider all of that. So for that reason, I typically recommend a general multivitamin for most people. For someone who absolutely doesn't want to take vitamins, I don't think it's essential to. For someone that really wants to, a good general multivitamin is probably helpful. You definitely should buy one that's appropriate for your age and for your gender. Not all vitamins are appropriate for everybody. For example, men should not be supplementing with iron unless instructed by a doctor. Women of childbearing years or those who want to become or are already pregnant need additional folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, iron to name a few, so they should be on prenatal vitamins that higher in those nutrients. Someone that's a vegan should probably supplement with B12, like I mentioned, but they might also want to consider calcium and vitamin D and zinc, depending on what their diet is like. So there's a lot of different reasons to take supplements or not, and then also the question is also should we be taking separate supplements or a multi supplement? I think in general, the best way to go is a multivitamin, because it's got a good amount of everything; however, you would take separate obviously if you're told you're deficient in something. That's the first and foremost reason to take a separate vitamin. Certain vitamins are not going to be high enough in the multivitamin. Calcium is a good example. Our body doesn't absorb calcium in large doses, and they can never put enough calcium in a multivitamin, so most multis don't have much more than 40 or 50 milligrams of calcium, which is definitely not enough. So if your diet is not high enough in calcium, or if you have bone disease or osteoporosis, you'll want to supplement separately with calcium. You probably also want to supplement separately with vitamin D. Most people these days need a separate vitamin D supplement. I find if you live certainly in an area that has a long winter, or if you live in an area that's very cloudy or rainy a good portion of the year, or if you're someone that doesn't get outside or get a lot of sun, vitamin D is probably something you're going to be deficient in. You can get your vitamin D tested. That is an important number to know. But I think it's a good idea to probably supplement with vitamin D separately. Also like I said, it depends on your health status. So it's good to know if you're deficient in anything. Certainly if you have iron deficiency, anemia, you'll want to supplement with iron. I don't think people should just go supplement with iron when it's not definitely needed, because it can cause some problems. It certainly can lead to constipation, and for men, they should never be supplementing with iron. So in general, I think a multivitamin is probably a good idea-- separates if you need them based on your personal dietary choices. And your health status is important. When to take a vitamin or any of your vitamins truthfully varies. I think the best time of day is the time of day you remember to take it. We all have our habits, and some people are morning, some people are night-- when they take vitamins and minerals. Certain vitamins and minerals do impact with others. Obviously iron supplementation is something that-- some have to be taken with food, some not, so it depends on which ones you choose, but multivitamins can generally be taken with or without food. It's probably better with food, and it can be taken morning or night. Certain things like calcium--as I said, we don't absorb calcium in large doses, so if you're taking, for example, 1,000 milligrams of calcium, it's best to take two: maybe 500 in the morning, 500 at night. Truthfully, the best time to take a vitamin is when you remember to take it daily. And again, in this country, we probably have very expensive urine. It doesn't mean we're absorbing all of it. Your body will oftentimes excrete out what it doesn't need, especially the water-soluble vitamins. So most of the stuff we take in we probably pee out, so unless you really know you need something, it's probably not good to spend a ton of money on a lot of different supplements, but again choices on this very much vary. You will note if someone's taking--if you're taking multivitamins or B complex that your urine might look bright yellow or even a little bit orange, and that's actually a reaction from the vitamin. It's how our body processes, and it's something that happens in our urine. So just a side note, because some people often will see that. Vitamins--there's many, many companies to get them from. I tend to think that an all-natural food-based one is best, but there are synthetic vitamins, as well that probably do just fine, and I usually send people to a store like Whole Foods to get their vitamins, because the companies are much more high end versus having something like Centrum, which is a cheaper vitamin. It's not that what it's made with is so terrible, but it's a question of how it's bound together. There's a lot of binders in vitamins, and our body needs to break down those binders in order to absorb, so I have found the cheaper the vitamin, the less we actually absorb of what's in it. That's my general rundown on vitamins. Hopefully it answered some of your questions, and I hope you got a little bit out of this call today on vitamins and minerals. It's really been a pleasure for me to teach it, and I thank you all for listening. Bye bye.

Video Details

Duration: 29 minutes and 47 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 5
Posted by: integrativenutrition on May 20, 2013


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