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Announcements

Micronutrients: The Little Big Nutrients

By Rob | In Announcements, Coach's Blog, Nutrition | on August 4, 2017

Remember when your mom told you to eat your vegetables? Turns out Mom knows what she’s talking about.

Vegetables play a big role in the next topic on nutrition, micronutrients. While fruits and vegetables are not the only foods that contain micronutrients they are a really important piece of the nutrition puzzle. Micronutrients are important organic compounds that your body needs in small amounts. In our jar analogy from last week’s post, these are the items that would be small pebbles that will fill in around the big rocks (macronutrients), further filling up the jar that makes up your diet.

Recently, macronutrients have been a hot topic in the nutrition world. As covered in the last article they are important. Using an 80/20 assessment, you most likely get the best results from 80% of nutrients, the macros fall into that 80%. Companies like Working Against Gravity, Stronger U, Own Your Eating, If It Fits Your Macros, etc. have been making a killing using macro profiles and getting people amazing results.

Hell many at CrossFit West Houston have had success with those strategies. I am not going to argue the results because they are amazing. As long as eating the right amounts of macros using REAL food with variety, then it is a great thing.  What concerns me is hearing things like “I had to get some carbs in to meet my grams so I had ice cream” It can also commonly be pop tarts, or gummy bears. I get it, but ideally you’re using real food that provides you Macronutrients and Micronutrients your body needs.

At CrossFit West Houston, we have had a long history with real food advocates. In the early days we hosted several folks from the Paleo community, Whole 9/Whole 30, Robb Wolf, Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe. It is our belief and stance that real food is the best food as it provides nutrients. Certainly, there are times where quick absorption options help with training gains and recovery.

Eat real food to cover all the bases.

 

What are micronutrients?

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that you derive from food. Each food will provide certain micronutrients which is why it is really important to vary your food choices to make sure that you are getting a wide variety to cover the bases.

  • Vitamins- these organic compounds are essential to normal body function. Without them it would be difficult to grow, reproduce, move, digest, etc. Deficiency can cause problems, diseases, fatigue, skin issues, digestion issues, and almost anything else you can imagine. They are classified into two types. The first type is Water Soluble which dissolves best in water. Fat soluble is the second type, which dissolves best in fat. If you are not consuming fat along with these vitamins you will likely not be able to absorb these nutrients. Some vitamins can be toxic in excess.
Water Soluble (9 Vitamins) Fat Soluble(4)
B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B 12, H, C A, D, K, E

 

  • Minerals- essential organic materials help to avoid chronic health issues. Deficiencies in minerals can bring on a whole host of chronic issues including osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, cardiac arrest, anemia, infections, cellular damage, glucose intolerance, cavities, impaired growth and neurological development. There are two types of minerals Macrominerals and Microminerals.
    • Macrominerals are minerals that your body requires in larger amounts.
    • Microminerals are minerals that your body requires in trace amounts.

 

Macrominerals Microminerals
Calcium Iron
Phosphorus Zinc
Potassium Copper
Magnesium Chromium
Salt(sodium chloride) Floride
  Iodine
  Selenium
  Manganese
  Molybdenum

 

How much do you need?

As discussed earlier, vitamins and minerals are important for body function. Here are some factors that affect levels and needs:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Medications
  • Food choices and amounts
  • Stress
  • Activity levels and intensity
  • Pregnancy/Menstruation
  • Illness or injury

 

While the government puts out a recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals, the truth is that everybody’s needs are different and the only accurate way to know is to do a specific blood panel on vitamins and minerals in your body.

Preparation: Cooked or Raw

The preparation of your food will affect the bioavailability of the micronutrients.  Raw vegetables are a good way to eat most vegetables. Boiling vegetables in water can cause some of the water soluble vitamins to cook out, so blanching, sautéing, steaming, roasting and even microwaving can be a better option. Food combinations can affect absorption adding fats like nuts, avocado, olive oil to make sure you can absorb the fat soluble vitamins.

Typically minerals are absorbed into food through soil.  Soil quality will determine how much minerals are in our food. As with vitamins, your body needs minerals in balance. For example, you have probably heard that high sodium can affect blood pressure, which is is true. However cutting it out completely can cause a fluid imbalance. Consuming too much water without any sodium can cause a hyponatremia which is potentially dangerous.  Hyponatremia is

Vitamins

Below I am going to take a look at each of the vitamins, where to get them, what they do and how to identify deficiencies and excesses.

Vitamin A

 

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Red/Orange/Yellow Vegetable and Fruits

·         Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

·          Egg Yolk

·         Liver

·         Eye Pigment

·         Protein synthesis

·         Immune Function

·         Wound Healing

·         Embryo Development

·         Red Blood Cell Development

·         Low light sight difficulty

·         Dry Eyes

·         Dry Skin

·         Acne

·         Nausea

·         Headaches

·         Fatigue

·         Loss of Appetite

·         Dizziness

·         Birth Defects

 

 

Vitamin B1

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Beans/Legumes

·         Sunflower Seeds/Tahini

·         Nutritional Yeast

·         Whole grains

·         Producing Energy

·         Synthesizing DNA and RNA

 

·         Beriberi

·         Memory Loss

·         Malnutrition

·         Rare

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamin B2

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Soybeans

·         Mushrooms

·         Spinach

·         Whole grains

·         Almonds

·         Eggs

·         Shrimp

·         Beef Liver

·         Dairy

·         Nutritional Yeast

·         Electron Transporter FAD

·         Metabolizing drugs in the lever

·         Red Blood cell production

·         Health of skin, GI tract and nervous system

·         Purine metabolism

·         Iron metabolism

·         Red Blood Cell production

·         Mucus and skin membrane damage

·         Conjunctivitis

·         Light sensitivity

·         Loss of appetite

·         Anemia and fatigue

·         Rare

 

Vitamin B3

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Whole Grains

·         Mushrooms

·         Canned Tomato

·         Beef

·         Fish

·         Pork

·         Chicken

·         Liver

·         Electron Transporter NAD

·         DNA repair

·         Health of skin, digestive system and nerves

·         Cellular signaling

·         Controlling Cholesterol  levels

 

·         Damage to skin and mucus membranes

·         Diarrhea

·         Dementia

·         Nausea

·         Headache

·         Diarrhea

·         Insulin resistance

·         Liver Toxicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamin B5

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Mushrooms

·         Corn

·         Avocado

·         Peas

·         Potatoes and sweet potatoes

·         Lentils

·         Egg Yolk

·         Beef Liver

·         Poultry

·         Fish and seafood

·         Yogurt

 

·         Forming acetyl-coA

·         Synthesizing (Cholesterol, steroid hormones

and neurotransmitters)

·         Drug metabolism

·         Maintaining Skin Health

 

·         Tingling feet usually found in cases of severe malnutrition ·         Nausea

·         Diarrhea

·         Heart Burn

 

Vitamin B6

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Potatoes and sweet potatoes

·         Sunflower Seeds

·         Chickpeas

·         Bananas and plantains

·         Spinach

·         Fish

·         Beef

·         Pork

·         Poultry

·         Works as a co-enzyme to form PLP which helps protein metabolism

·         Glycogen breakdown

·         Red Blood Cell Metabolism

·         Nervous and immune system function

·         Forming Neurotransmitters and steroid hormones

 

·         Damage to mucus and skin membranes

·         Nervous system disorders

·         Anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability

·         Confusion

·         Depression

·         Anemia

·         Painful neurological symptoms

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamin B7

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Nuts and peanuts

·         Sweet potatoes

·         Onions

·         Mushrooms

·         Cacao

·         Whole Grain esp Oats

·         Tomatoes

·         Beans and legumes

·         Egg yolks

·         Dairy

·         Fish

·         Liver

·         Poultry

·         Forming 4 vital enzymes called carboxylases

·         DNA Replication

 

 

·         Dry skin or rash

·         Nausea and loss of appetite

·         Loss of/thinning hair

·         Conjunctivitis

·         Depression

·         Rare

 

Vitamin B9

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Beans and Legumes

·         Leafy Greens

·         Chicken Liver

 

·         Metabolism of nucleic and amino acids as a co-enzyme

·         Breaking down and using vitamins B12 and C

·         Red Blood Cell Formation and circulation

·         Fetal Development

·         Anemia

·         Low white blood cells and platelets

·         Weakness and weight loss

·         Cracking and redness of tongue and mouth

·         Diarrhea

·         Low Birth Weight

·         Masking vitamin B12 deficiency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamin B12

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Fish and Shellfish

·         Beef

·         Dairy

·         Forming and maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells

·         DNA Synthesis

·         Beriberi

·         Memory Loss

·         Malnutrition

·         Rare

 

Vitamin C

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Most colorful fruits and vegetables

·         Organ meats

·         Protecting Cells from Free Radicals

·         Improving iron absorption

·         Regenerating Vitamin E supplies

·         Building collagen

·         Synthesizing norepinephrine and carnitine

·         Metabolizing cholesterol to bile acids

·         Poor wound healing and structural repair

·         Poor dental health

·         Diarrhea

·         High Risk of Kidney Stones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choline

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Shellfish

·         Beef and Beef Liver

·         Eggs

·         Salmon

·         Pork

·         Chicken

·         Legumes and beans

·         Tomato products

 

·         Building Cell Membranes and neurotransmitters

·         Liver metabolism

·         Nutrient transport

·         Controlling homocysteine levels in fetus

·         Possibly lowering inflammation

·         Problems metabolizing fats

·         Liver disease

·         Kidney Disease

·         Muscle and Nervous tissue damage

·         Cognitive and Memory Problems

·         Hypotension

 

Vitamin D

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Sunlight

·         Fish

·         Egg Yolks

·         Mushrooms

·         Shrimp

·         Beef Liver

·         Fortified Dairy Products

·         Maintaining serum calcium levels

·         Modulating gene transcription

·         Cell differentiation

·         Immune system function

·         Regulating glucose tolerance

·         Regulating renin-angiotensin cascade and blood pressure

·         In Children: Rickets, deformed bones, retarded growth and soft teeth

·         In adults: low bone density tooth decay

 

 

·         Elevated blood  calcium

·         Loss of appetite

·         Nausea and/or vomiting

·         Fluid imbalance

·         Itching

·         Muscle Weakness

·         Disorientation

·         Calcification of soft tissues

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamin E

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Nuts and seeds

·         Dark leafy greens

·         Avocado

·         Scavenging free radicals

·         Cell signaling

·         Expression of immune and inflammatory cells

·         Muscle weakness

·         Damage to red blood cells

·         Movement and coordination

·         Impaired vision

·         Acne

·         Impaired blood clotting

 

Vitamin K

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
K1 Plant sources

·         Leafy Greens

·         Cruciferous greens like Brussel sprouts and broccoli

·         Asparagus

K2 Animal Sources

·         Cheese

·         Egg Yolks

·         Grass-fed butter

·         Chicken, duck, goose liver

·         Beef

·         Dairy

·         Blood clotting

·         Amino Acid metabolism co-factors

·         Cell signaling tissue

·         Tendency to bleed or hemorrhage bruising

·         Anemia

·         Calcium

·         Negating anti-clotting effects from blood thinning drugs

 

Minerals

Below I am going to take a look at each of the minerals, where to get them, what they do and how to identify deficiencies and excesses.

 

 

 

 

Calcium

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Dairy

·         Dark Green Vegetables

·         Beans

·         Nuts and seeds

·         Rhubarb

·         Fish

·         Calcium-fortified foods

·         Transmitting nerve impulses

·         Muscle contraction

·         Hormone secretion

·         Forming teeth and bone

·         Acting as a co-factor for enzyme

·         Poor bone metabolism

·         Muscle stiffness/cramps

·         Low blood pressure

·         Nausea and/or vomiting

·         Constipation

·         Dry mouth and thirst

·         Kidney problems

·         Calcium Deposits in the wrong places such as soft tissue

 

Chloride

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Almost any whole food ·         Maintaining electrochemical gradient across cell membranes

·         Digestion and absorption of many nutrients

·         Vary Rare usually due to excessive fluid loss ·         Rare

 

Chromium

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Broccoli

·         Mushrooms

·         Potatoes

·         Oats

·         Prunes

·         Nutritional yeast

·         Beer/red wine

·         Aged cheese

·         Beef/organ meats

·         Glucose and fat metabolism

·         Lipoprotein metabolism and oxidation of macronutrients

·         Rare ·         Mostly from industrial exposure

*High sugar diets can increase chromium excretion in urine

**Vitamin C improves chromium absorption while antacids and NSAIDS can decrease it

Cooper

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Cacao

·         Mushrooms

·         Nuts and seeds

·         Beans and legumes

·         Beef liver

·         Seafood, (oysters)

·         Oxidation-reduction reactions and free radical scavenging

·         Cellular energy production

·         Synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters and myelin

·         Regulating protein synthesis

·         Anemia

·         Low white blood cell count

·         Loss of skin and hair color

·         Nausea and/or vomiting

·         Abdominal pain

·         Diarrhea

·         Liver Damage

 

Chloride

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Almost any whole food ·         Maintaining electrochemical gradient across cell membranes

·         Digestion and absorption of many nutrients

·         Vary Rare, usually due to excessive fluid loss ·         Rare

 

Iodine

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Saltwater fish and seafood

·         Seaweed

·         Iodized salt

·         Dairy

·         Eggs

·         Forming T3 and T4 thyroid  hormones ·         Impaired growth and neurological development

·         Decreased production of thyroid hormones, enlarged thyroid

·         Burning mouth/throat/stomach, fever

·         Diarrhea

·         Enlarged thyroid

 

 

Iron

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Non-heme food sources (plants)

·         Beans and legumes

·         Dark leafy greens

·         Molasses

·         Olives

·         Jerusalem artichokes

·         Raisins

·         Peppers

·         Potatoes

·         Seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and tahini

·         Prune Juice

·         Heme food sources

·         Fish

·         Shellfish

·         Organ meats

·         Red meats

·         Dark poultry

·         Forming hemoglobin and myoglobin; oxygen transport and storage

·         Forming red blood cells and blood vessels

·         Producing anaerobic energy

·         Forming cytochromes involved with cellular energy production and drug metabolism

·         Making up hundreds of proteins and enzymes

·         Anemia

·         Behavioral abnormalities in children

·         Spoon-shaped nails that curl

·         Low immunity

·         Nausea and vomiting

·         Shock; potential death

·         Increased risk of CVD, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases

*one of the most common deficiencies worldwide.

**Vitamin C, organ meats and meat enhance iron absorption

***Zinc, calcium, phytates and plypenois inhibit absorption

**** Women are at risk for deficiency while men are more likely to have excess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnesium

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Beans and legumes

·         Dark leafy greens

·         Nuts and seeds

·         Cacao

·         Whole grains

·         Potatoes

·         Carbohydrate and fat metabolism

·         DNA and Protein synthesis

·         Active Transport of ions across cell membranes

·         Phosphorylation of second messengers

·         Cell migration and wound healing

·         Over 300 enzymatic reactions

·         Muscle Cramps and twitching

·         Nausea and loss of appetite

·         Abnormal heart rhythms

·         Problems with thinking , moods and memory

·         Diarrhea

·         Weakness and sleepiness

·         Very low blood pressure

·         Shortness of breath

 

Manganese

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Tea

·         Whole grains

·         Nuts

·         Cacao

·         Seaweed

·         Peppers

·         Garlic and Onions

·         Mushrooms

·         Beans and legumes

·         Dark leafy greens

·         Okra

·         Berries

·         Pineapple

·         Anti-oxidation

·         Carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism

 

·         Rare as it is found in most foods ·         Rare and limited to industrial exposure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molybdenum

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Legumes

·         Almonds and peanuts

·         Oats

·         Yogurt

·         Potatoes

·         Bread

·         Green vegetables

·         Carbon, nitrogen and sulfur metabolism

·         Nucleotide breakdown

·         Metabolism of drugs/toxins

·         RareAdd New ·         Rare

 

Phosphorus

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Beans and legumes

·         Nuts and seeds; peanuts

·         Cheese, esp ricotta

·         Fish

·         Beef and Beef liver

·         Eggs

·         Bone formation

·         Energy transfer

·         Hormone production

·         Enzyme production

·         Cell Signaling

·         Buffering acidity

·         Helps regulate oxygen delivery from hemoglobin

·         Rare ·         Rare

 

Potassium

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Vegetables

·         Potatoes

·         Beans and legumes

·         Fruits

·         Fish

·         Whole Grains

·         Maintaining an electrochemical gradient across cell membranes

·         Enzyme Activity

·         Cardiac Arrhythmia (possibly leading to cardiac arrest)

·         Muscle cramps

·         High blood pressure

·         Glucose Intolerance

·         Kidney stones

·         Bone loss

·         Tingling of extremities

·         Muscle Weakness

·         Nausea and/or vomiting

·         Diarrhea

·         Cardiac Arrhythmia

 

Selenium

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Brazil Nus

·         Sunflower Seeds

·         Whole Grains

·         Fish and seafood

·         Poultry

·         Red meat

·         Eggs

·         Working with selenoproteins, selenium-dependent enzymes

·         Anti-oxidation

·         Diodination of T4

·         Excess oxidation/free radical production

·         Juvenile cardiomyopathy

·         Inflammatory arthritis

·         Acne

·         Skin problems

·         Brittle hair and nails

·         GI upset

·         Fatigue

·         Nervous System abnormalities

·         Garlic odor on skin and breath

 

Sodium

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Most foods have sodium

·         Processed foods have a lot of sodium

·         Absorbing chloride, amino acids, glucose and water

·         Regulating extracellular fluid status, blood volume, and blood pressure.

·         Maintaining the electrochemical gradient.

·         Nausea and vomiting

·         Headache

·         Cramps

·         Fatigue

·         Disorientation

·         Increased fluid volume and edema

·         Nausea and/or vomiting

·         Diarrhea and or abdominal cramps

 

Sulfur

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Protein-dense foods( eg: meat, seafood, eggs)

·         Garlic and onions

·         Cruciferous vegetables

·         Acid-base balance

·         Antioxidant

·         Liver detoxification

·         Collagen synthesis

·         Rare ·         Rare

 

 

 

Zinc

Sources Involved Functions Deficiency Excess
·         Beans and legumes

·         Nuts and seeds

·         Whole grains

·         Seafood

·         Beef

·         Lamb

·         Pork

·         Poultry

·         Eggs

·         Wild game

·         Mushrooms

·         Growth and development

·         Neurological function

·         Reproduction

·         Immunity

·         Apoptosis

·         Acting as a catalyst in chemical reactions

·         Cell structure and health

·         Gene Expression

·         Cellular signaling and hormone release

·         Nerve impulse transmission

·         Delayed growth and sexual maturation

·         Poor wound healing

·         Low immunity

·         Skeletal Abnormalities

·         Night Blindness

·         Hair loss

·         Loss of appetite

·         Acne

·         Dry Eyes

·         Nausea and/or vomiting

·         Abdominal pain

·         Diarrhea

·         Blocking copper absorption

 

**All micronutrient information taken from “The Essentials of Sports and Nutrition” John Berardi PHD, CSCS: Ryan Andrews MS, MA, RD: Brian St Pierre MS, RD, CSCS; Krista Scott-Dixon PhD; Helen Kollias PhD, CSCS; Camille DePutter

 

Phytonutrients, myconutrients and zoonutrients

In addition to vitamins and minerals food has other valuable organic nutrients called phytonutrients, myconutrients and zoonutrients. These tiny chemicals potentially have potent benefits for us.

  • Phytonutrients- come from plants
  • Myconutrients-come from fungi like mushrooms
  • Zoonutrients- come from animal foods

Phytonutrients and myconutrients can do many things:

  • Perform as antioxidants
  • Influence hormonal function
  • DNA Repair
  • Fight bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens
  • Lower inflammation
  • Lower blood clotting and coagulation
  • Inhibit fat synthesis and storage

Zoonutrients perform these functions:

  • Suppress tumor growth
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Support healthy brain function
  • Build stronger more powerful muscles
  • Lower oxidation
  • Prevent glycation of blood cells

 

Covering the bases

As you can see micronutrients, while small, are mighty and essential to our long term health. And quite frankly that is a major concern for us here at CrossFit West Houston. It is the main reason why we have the “Evolve to Your Strongest Self” motto. The stronger you are the more resilient and healthy you are.

So how do you cover your bases?

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

    • Eat some at every meal.
    • Eat the Rainbow Red, orange, yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
  • Vary your protein sources eggs, meat, poultry, fish and pork

  • Include fungus like mushrooms ( this is a hard one for me)

  • Assess yourself by getting micronutrient testing if it is feasible financially

It’s likely that you recognize some of the symptoms, conditions and body processes that are mentioned above. It’s also very likely that there were many you’ve never heard of. That’s ok. What’s important to understand is that these functions and processes of the body are important and crucial for long term health. You probably also noticed there are a lot of food options that provide those nutrients. Foods we don’t always consider or maybe care for. Therefore, it’s critical to get a variety and rotate these foods into your diet.

Now go forth and eat a complete food spectrum. Feel good. Be awesome. And evolve to your strongest self!

 

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