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Key nutrients enrich healthy bodies

Published 2:10pm Friday, September 27, 2013

I’m often asked just what vitamins and minerals are, and why we need them.

Vitamins are organic nutrients (that our bodies can’t produce or synthesize) that come from plants or animals. Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic substances, which our bodies also can’t produce. Our bodies need at least 30 vitamins, minerals and other dietary compounds for good health.

Today, I’m going to share with you five.

1. Vitamin E. 

This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells and actually 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. Good 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). Calcium is also one of several minerals (electrolytes) that help muscles contract properly. Calcium may also help prevent many 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 sometimes interfere with absorption of some medications. Good food sources include yogurt and other dairy products, sardines with bones and leafy greens.

3. Potassium. 

This is another electrolyte that helps keep muscles and the nervous system healthy.  Potassium helps keep blood pressure at normal levels. Not getting enough potassium may leave you feeling weak and fatigued.  Many folks ingest too much sodium, but not enough potassium, but these two should be in proper balance for good health. The ratio of potassium to sodium should be 2:1. 

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