By: Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H.
I have said this before and it is plastered all over my clinic. The method by which I believe health is best attained is to detoxify the body first then replace what the body needs. Pretty simple concept. After detox, refill the tank. Here is where the nutritional supplements come in. It is a rescue, if you will and replenishes that which you need. Once full, I much prefer to maintain the level of health with diet. Couple of problems. First, the nutrient you may need, may not be available in today’s food (or at least in adequate amounts). Second, to exclusively utilize a diet is not as easy as it seems. It takes time and effort. Start slow and work meal prep into your life style and schedule. Try it, it works. Then keep it there. I much prefer a good diet rather than a nutritional supplement. I also don’t want to exchange a traditional prescription pill for a nutritional pill. So, to use a diet as the source of your nutrients, the question is, what do I need to eat to get the nutrients I need. Over the next couple weeks, I will list some vitamins and minerals. You will see where they are found and what their assignment is in the body (sorry, a little science). Please remember these lists are not complete but do hit the major points. Today we’ll start with the vitamins.
Vitamin A (retinol): It is essential for vision, fetal development and child growth. It helps produce mucous and is an excellent antioxidant. Retinol is found in cabbage, carrots, butter, barley, liver, spirulina and whole milk.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine): It is vital in creating energy in the body, helps in the digestion of carbohydrates and is needed for the nervous, cardiac and muscular systems to work properly. Thiamine is found in liver, brown rice, legumes, salmon, spirulina, wheat germ, milk, poultry and nuts. Also, it can be found in lamb, navy beans, pork, and most whole grain cereals.
Vitamin B2(riboflavin): It is needed for the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, helps form antibodies and red cells, maintains good skin, hair and nails and is essential for good vision. Riboflavin is found in almonds, eggs, chicken, liver, dark green leafy vegetables and milk. It is also found in peppermint leaves, spirulina and wheat germ. Last but not least it is found in my favorite vegetable, asparagus.
Vitamin B3 (niacin): It improves circulation and lowers cholesterol. B3 helps to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates and maintains a healthy digestive system as well as a healthy tongue and skin. It can help reduce high blood pressure. Niacin is found in almost all fish, chicken white meat, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, nuts, and sunflower seeds. It is also found in brewers’ yeast as well as turkey, veal and raspberries.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): It takes the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and proteins a step further and helps produce energy. It assists almost every other vitamin. It builds antibodies and helps the body deal with stress. It helps in the building and the maintenance of the immune and nervous systems. Pantothenic acid is found in eggs, organ meats, liver, legumes, molasses, peas, rice, all vegetables, rice, whole grain cereals and lobster. It is also found in blue cheeses and brewers’ yeast.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): This works to aid the building and use of amino acids and essentially all proteins. It helps the body use fats and carbohydrates. It helps produce antibodies. It reduces muscle spasms and leg cramps as well as maintaining healthy skin. It helps in the normal working of the nervous system and helps reduce hand stiffness and numbness. It has been used in cases of carpal tunnel. In addition, it helps reduce premenstrual fluid retention. Pyridoxine is found in avocados, bananas, bran, brewers’ yeast, carrots, poultry, legumes, liver, rice, all deep cold water fish (including herring, halibut, salmon and shrimp), walnuts, wheat germ and whole wheat cereals.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid/ folate): An incredibly important vitamin, it is vital for DNA and RNA to be made. It also is essential for the formation of red blood cells as well as the body’s use of amino acids. Folate is found in barley, beets, beans, liver, brewers’ yeast, egg yolks (yes they are good for you), lentils, peas, oranges, wheat germ and whole wheat. It is also found nicely in dark green leafy vegetables, fruits and always a favorite, garbanzo beans.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): It is vital in the formation of red blood cells. Lack of B12 will cause an anemia. It helps with fat, protein and carbohydrate use in the body and is important in child growth. It is needed for mineral absorption and increases energy. It is found in beef, dairy, clams, eggs, fish liver, herring, organ meats, swiss cheese, sardines and blue cheese.
Now, don’t go out and buy a boat load of these supplements. The point is to show you how to get them in your diet. Next week more vitamins. Remember, the smart health care consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H. can be found at the Balance of Life Clinic