Finding the Right Vitamins
Vitamin A regulates the immune system and helps protect against bacteria and viruses. Deficiency can result in poor vision, night blindness and even dry eyes. Sources of raw and vegan vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.
Vitamin E may help protect against cancer, hay fever and asthma. A deficiency can result in an impaired immune system. Vegetable oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables are great sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin C is a most important antioxidant. It protects against heart disease and aids tissue growth and healing of wounds. A lack of vitamin C can result in dr,y scaly skin, bleeding gums and gum disease, frequent colds and persistent infections. Citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, cabbage and peppers have lots of vitamin C.
Vitamin B1, or thiamine, improves circulation, digestion and brain function. Whole grains, nuts, broccoli and raisins have vitamin B.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid,helps produce and maintain new cells, especially important during pregnancy and for infants. A painful sore tongue and gum disease are symptoms of B9 deficiency. Leafy greens (spinach and kale), peas and grains such as amaranth and oats are good resources.
Calcium pays a vital role in growth of strong bones, gums and teeth and also keeps our heart working at optimal strength. Numbness in the fingers, irregular heart beat and osteoporosis are symptoms of a calcium deficiency. Dark green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds and almonds all have high levels of calcium.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral needed by every cell in the body. Sea vegetables, chia seeds, lentils and Brazil nuts have high amounts of phosphorus.
Magnesium helps keep heart rhythm steady, maintains muscle and nerve functioning and keeps bones strong. If we have too little magnesium, it may result in brittle nails, hyperactivity in children, tender calf muscles, PMS, high blood pressure and sensitivity to light. Green vegetables, especially spinach, nuts and seeds, have plenty of magnesium.
Potassium helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Low levels of potassium can result in muscle pain, cramps and constipation. Bananas, dates, kumquats and yams are full of potassium.
Zinc supports a healthy immune system, heals wounds and is needed for DNA synthesis. If we have too little, it could result in a loss of taste or appetite, poor night vision, hyperactivity, poor healing and frequent colds. Aduki beans, cashew nuts and pecans have high levels of zinc.
Iron is essential for transporting oxygen around the body, usually through hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells. Low iron levels can cause hair loss, itchy skin, cold intolerance, brittle nails, restless legs and reduced endurance. Lentils, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are high in iron.
Chromium helps keep the heart and arteries healthy. A chromium deficiency can lead to cataracts, sugar cravings and blood sugar mood swings. Whole grains, bran, green beans and broccoli all have chromium.
Selenium protects cells from free radical damage and helps create a healthy immune system and thyroid gland functioning. Heart disease can be the result of low selenium. Brazil nuts and walnuts are high in selenium.
Iodine is also essential for healthy thyroid functioning, with dangerously low levels causing thyroid swelling, hypothyroidism and goiter. Seaweeds such asdulse, alaria, wakame and hijiki are high in iodine.
To ensure our body receives all of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs, consider taking a supplement in the form of a raw food powder that can be easily mixed into water, fresh juice or a favorite smoothie. Supplementing can be a great tool, but be sure not to let it take the place of a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fresh, raw produce.
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of the Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering healthy lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 1-800-844-9876 and visit LivingFoodsInstitute.com. See ad, inside front cover.