Every cell in the body relies on a sufficient supply of vitamins to do its metabolic work. In this way, vitamins perform many functions. Among other things, they promote blood formation and healthy skin, hair and vision; they help to maintain nerves and muscles; and they aid in the release of energy from foods. Recent research suggests that some vitamins can even help prevent certain disorders, such as cancer, cataracts, arthritis and heart disease. Most vitamins must be obtained from foods or supplements because the body cannot produce them. Vitamin deficiencies are common to many groups of people: dieters, pregnant or nursing women; the elderly; people under stress; and those taking medications, such as cortisone or antibiotics. Plus, cigarettes, coffee, alcohol and birth control pills all rob the body of vitamins. The first signs of a vitamin deficiency are fatigue, irritability and anxiety. Over time, the immune system will weaken.
Over cooking, light, air and long storage diminish the vitamin content of fruits and vegetables. To minimize vitamin loss:
- Buy locally grown produce
- Choose frozen fruits and vegetables over canned; they're more nutritious
- Wash and cut produce just before serving; don't buy precut fruits and vegetables
- Select organic fruit, and eat the skins of pears and apples
- Steam fresh vegetables rather than boiling them.
- Pantothenic acids for the brain
- Vitamin D for the bones
- Vitamin B12 for the blood
- Vitamin A for the heart and circulation
- Thiamin for the muscles
Excessive coffee drinking can lead to vitamin deficiency
What you can do
There is no substitute for a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Vitamin deficiency usually occurs only after many weeks or months of intake below recommended levels. Supplements that supply megadoses of vitamins may provide an overdose.
The fat soluble vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body for use as needed. To increase their absorption, cook with olive oil.
||Healthy skin; heart
||1 medium carrot
||3 ½ oz. avocado
||1 tbsp; wheat germ oil
||¼ cup parsley
The water soluble vitamins
The following water soluble vitamins are not stored by the body. Therefore, you must strive to meet daily recommendations.
||2 large bananas
||For red blood cells
||3 ½ oz. salmon
||For immune system, wound healing, cell protection
||2 cups fresh raspberries
||For cell formation, fights heart disease, birth defects
||2 cups asparagus
||For energy metabolism
||5 oz. chicken breast
||For the central nervous system
||10 cups skim milk
||3 cups nonfat yogurt
||Strengthens muscles, heart, nerves
||5 oz. pork loin
The Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI) are the values that are the basis for the nutritional requirement listed on food labels.
Extra Tip : Cigarette smokes destroys vitamin C in the body, so smokers need 100 mg. a day. A cup of orange juice supplies this amount.
Vitamin Rich cocktails
Raw fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamins, and drinking fresh juices made from tem is a delicious way to take advantage of their nutritional power. Use a juicer to make the following fruit and vegetable cocktails.
To boost the immune system
2 carrots, ½ lemon, 1 stalk celery, ½ red beet, 1 handful wheatgrass
To guard against cancer
3 carrots, ½ apple, 1 handful broccoli florets
To renew cells and fight the aging processes
3 carrots, 1 handful spinach, 1 orange, 1 tsp. olive oil
To improve vision
1 apple, 1 kiwifruit, 1 handful mache, 1 tsp. olive oil
Although it is not a substitute for a healthy diet, a multivitamin that supplies no more than the reference Daily for each nutrient can provide extra insurance. Except for vitamin E, which may be safely taken in dosages upto 400 IU by people not using anticoagulant drugs, taking supplements of individual vitamins is generally not a good idea, because sometimes very high doses are harmful.
Beta-carotene (found in dark green vegetables and orange fruits and vegetables), vitamin C ( found in citrus fruits and broccoli) and vitamin E (found in nuts, vegetable oil and dark leafy greens) are all natural antioxidants. These substances help neutralize free radicals, which in turn help prevent accelerated aging and fight disease, such as cancer and heart disease.