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Five vitamins and minerals most don’t get enough of

Published 4:03pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

It’s true, we all need a full spectrum of nutrients for good health, but there are five vitamins and minerals of which most folks just don’t get enough.
Today I’m going to share with you what those are, what they do for us and how to get more of them.
1) Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells and helps them communicate with each other. It’s great to help protect skin, and if you’re not getting enough vitamin E, you’re probably not absorbing other nutrients as well as you should.
Vitamin E also plays a role in inhibition of blood platelet aggregation, or premature blood clotting. Food sources include wheat germ, wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, white beans, vegetable oils and red bell pepper.
2) Calcium. Every cell in our body contains, and uses, some calcium. Shortages of calcium can cause low bone density (osteoporosis). It’s also one of the minerals (electrolytes) that help our muscles contract properly. Calcium can also help prevent major diseases according to a study conducted by Tufts-New England Medical Center.
Our body’s concentration of calcium declines with age, and must be replenished by supplementation or our diets. Two common forms of calcium supplements are calcium carbonate (take with food) and calcium citrate (take on an empty stomach). Be sure to check with your doctor before taking calcium supplements, because these can interfere with absorption of some medications. Food sources include yogurt and other dairy products, sardines with bones and leafy greens.
3) Potassium. This is another electrolyte that keeps our muscles and nervous system healthy.  Potassium helps keep blood pressure at normal levels. Not getting enough potassium may leave you feeling weak and fatigued.  Most folks ingest too much “sodium,” but not enough potassium. These two need to be in proper balance for good health.
The ratio of potassium to sodium should be 2:1. In fact one study suggests that consuming twice as much potassium as sodium can halve your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Potassium can lower risk of stroke too. Food sources include bananas, citrus juices, avocados, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lima beans and fish.
4) Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps keep skin, gums and teeth healthy.  It also helps us see better at night. To see in dim light, the rods in your eye’s retina  use the chemical Rhodopsin (also know as” visual purple”) to absorb photons and perceive light. Without enough vitamin A, rhodopsin can’t be produce. Vitamin A helps boost your immune system too.
Vitamin A is fat soluble, which means your body stores it, so you can get too much. There are two types of vitamin A. Pre-formed vitamin A, from sources like liver, fish liver oils and eggs, and Pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene), that’s converted by our bodies as we need it, from sources like carrots, butternut squash, dark leafy greens, paprika, red peppers and sweet potatoes.
5) Magnesium. This is the fourth most abundant mineral stored in our bodies and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. Magnesium helps our bodies store energy, keeps nerves healthy and muscles toned, helps genes function properly, keeps bones strong and heart rhythm steady. Magnesium helps decrease triglycerides (fat in the blood) and increases HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can decrease hypertension (high blood pressure) and decrease risk for type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium can also reduce risk of “Metabolic syndrome.” Metabolic syndrome is a condition where risk factors like increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and obesity occur at the same time, increasing one’s risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One study showed those who consumed adequate amounts of magnesium cut their risk of metabolic syndrome by 33 percent or more.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 26 years.
He served as strength director for the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, Converse collage equestrian team, water safety consultant to the U.S. Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields amodeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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