Concerns about proper nutrition have far reaching impacts when it comes to lifetime wellness and the prevention of certain chronic diseases. The modern diet can have a highly negative impact on health outcomes for several reasons.
Negatives of the Modern Diet
- Low nutritional value – although many easy to access and popular foods have the appropriate caloric values to sustain physical function, they often tend to be depleted of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that support the body’s metabolism.
- Toxins and additives– the inclusion of many additives and preservatives can further stress physiology, since not only is there an absence of necessary fuel for cells, but the addition of compounds that the body treats as toxic can also tax the efficiency of healthy function.
- Processed versus natural – although many processed foods include the addition of vitamins in order to raise the nutritional value, these are often synthesized forms of the nutrients that are added. The body is more efficient at processing and utilizing natural forms, since the structure of chemical bonds in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals can be very different than the synthesized ones.
The result is that while people may believe that they are getting their RDA standards for vitamins and minerals, their bodies are actually not able to properly utilize these components, and thus, a deficit occurs.
The Emotional Diet
Another factor that is frequently overlooked, even when reading labels and paying attention to RDA levels for health, is that these required allowances are based on general adult nutritional standards. However, factors such as underlying physical health issues may mean that higher levels for certain nutrients are applicable and even needed.
Along with existing health concerns, emotional and adjunct factors can also influence the amount of nutrients that the body needs. This can include situations such as:
- High stress levels, which deplete cellular energy
- Depression, which reduces the ability to catalyze nutrients
- Environmental impact that can impact physiological function
- Psychological factors that influence patterns of eating
- Lifestyle choices that can lead to the need for higher amounts of certain nutrients
As a result, the vitamins that need to be in your diet may already be ones that you think you are getting, but ancillary variables can also be affecting how well the body uses these vitamins.
The Essential Nutrients
1. Vitamin A
This fat based vitamin is also commonly referred to as retinol or beta-carotene, which also helps to inform people as to the benefits that it provides the body. However, stress levels can greatly contribute to the lack of absorption for this vitamin, which is further exacerbated by diets that are low in beta-carotene vegetables.
Overall vitamin A aids in the following:
- Eye health
- Immune function
- Healing processes
- Healthy skin regeneration
- Fighting the effects of environmental pollution
While vitamin A is integral to health, it is also an important vitamin for smokers, since t can reduce some of the carcinogenic impacts of the habit, and can support better health and revitalization even after quitting.
2. Vitamin D
Although this fat soluble vitamin is actually produced by the body, over 30% of all people fall in the deficient range for proper levels. While some food sources can provide supplemental amounts of vitamin D, actual exposure to sunlight is what generates the most viable form that the body can use. As a result of modern lifestyles and concerns over skin cancer, the rate of deficiency in the population has increased. However, as little as 20 minutes of indirect (morning or early evening) sunlight can improve levels.
Vitamin D is largely responsible for the way that calcium is absorbed, and this benefits both bone and joint health. Further, vitamin D is also responsible for:
- Supporting cellular metabolism
- Maintaining nervous system and cardiovascular function
- Keeping teeth, skin, and connective tissue strong and healthy
3. Vitamin E
This powerful antioxidant plays a large part in ensuring that immune function is strong, and that cellular metabolism is maintained. When taken internally, it can help to:
- Support brain health
- Protect against environmental toxins
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve blood oxygenation and circulation
4. Thiamin – B1
Although B complex vitamins can work well synergistically, individual B vitamins can also play an integral role in health promotion. B1 is responsible for facilitating cellular function, which also means that it is necessary for the proper utilization of other nutrients. Within this action, it is also related to:
- Brain health through the formation of acetylcholine
- Improvement of moods
- Reduction of pain and inflammation, especially in cases of neuralgia and nerve damage
5. Riboflavin – B2
As with Thiamin, extra levels of this B vitamin can also greatly improve health outcomes. This vitamin is often lost when food sources are cooked, as even a low amount of heat can corrupt the vitamin. To this end oral supplementation or the greater inclusion of raw dark greens and berries can help prevent deficiency. Riboflavin is directly responsible for:
- Generating the precursors for cellular energy production
- Improving the appearance and function of hair, skin, and nails
- Increasing how efficiently the cells can utilize oxygen.
6. Niacin – B3
This vitamin is commonly found in energy formulations, since it has an immediate effect on circulation, which is also responsible for the “niacin flush”. However, this B vitamin is also an effective means of boosting energy levels without depleting the adrenals, since it works to break down fatty acids for energy on a cellular level. Along with this benefit, Niacin also:
- Helps break down nutrients and aids in digestion
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Has a positive impact on mood disorders
Of all the B vitamins, choline also plays an integral role in weight management as well as other health benefits. This vitamin has a direct lipotropic action in that it causes fats to be utilized before they are stored. While this can be seen as one immediate positive health outcome, choline also:
- Supports brain health and improved memory
- Aid the function of the liver and the gallbladder
- Improves the efficiency of electrical impulses between nerve synapses.
8. Folic Acid
This B vitamin often needs to be supplemented, even in complexes, since requirements can greatly vary with lifestyle demands. Most notably, stress reduces the ability for folic acid to synthesize with B12, and this can lead to health deficiencies. Folic acid is responsible for:
- The production of healthy red blood cells
- Support for proper cell replication and regeneration
- Prevention of infections, lowered immune response, and fatigue
9. Vitamin C
As a water soluble vitamin, C is one of the few nutrients where therapeutic macro-doses do not have severely adverse affects. This also means that it can be used as a therapeutic intervention in cases of systemic infection or slow healing, while regular supplementation can have further positive results.
- Improved quality of hair, skin, and nails through increased collagen production
- Reduction of inflammation within the body
- Strong anti-oxidant qualities to preserve cell health
- Improved energy through efficient cellular metabolism
10. Vitamin P – The Bioflavonoids
Vitamin P really refers to a group of components that work in conjunction with one another to greatly support cell health. These compounds are integral for good circulation and strong blood vessels, but they also increase the oxygen capacity of the blood. As a result, this vitamin is necessary for facilitating the prevention and treatment of:
- Gum disease
- Asthma and allergies
- Joint pain and inflammation