Part 2 : Micronutrients & You

“Let Food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”- one of the very popular saying from Hippocrates. Don’t you agree ?

Not to the hilt haaaan……I gotcha and the vehemence of dubiety is surfacing you with suspicion, that how anyone can in this genetically modified world radically can hinge on food with sobriety, where the whole shebang is made up of chemicals- be it any crop, fruits, veggies, milk etc; are overwhelmed with the warmth of pesticide formulations, insecticide, antibiotic residues, synthetic flavours, preservatives, soil fumigants etc. And if am gonna shepherd you all on so called “Healthy-diet” gyaan, then we again rejoin the world of deficiencies- cheers to “prime mover of adulteration”.

Somehow I also acknowledge the same that up until you boast a reliable source in conjunction with organic foods which are free from any chemicals and from which our body can absorb the maximum nutrients at the best is the safest option. But when this approach seems quite difficult then don’t you think we should at least increase our knowledge on the best possible ways to eat at least seasonal foods, local foods, diversified diet with an active lifestyle and if we still have to thrive on supplements for combating deficiencies then we have to upgrade our supplements etiquette so that they do their actual work rather than keep depositing as toxicities which further worsen our problem with a outcome in the form of serious ailments.

Here am endowing my full-blown scientific exploration to this perplexity which transparently gonna aid us in a certain way so that we at least take the optimum measures for a healthful living in this “chemically jammed era”.

Their involvement and social interplay:

Understand the nutrients enter to our circulatory system from the gastrointestinal tract and in order for vitamins and minerals to reach the blood stream, they must dissolve in stomach or intestines and diffuse across the membrane lining of the digestive tract. Now the nutrients that fail to absorb (which is discussed below) may pass through digestive tract and be excreted in the valuable faeces and urine, thus providing no nutritional value.

Now the salient diegesis which we should be aware that some nutrients which we gain from our food, works together to combat any deficiencies in the body but for some nutrient, to work in pair is dainty and they estrange each other’s path which results to occurrence of diseases in body for eg:

  • Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption, you can’t acquire good bone Health status without it.
  • Vitamin C is required for Iron absorption but on the other hand it inhibits body to assimilate mineral copper.
  • Excess sodium interferes with the natural ability of blood vessels to relax and expand, while also encouraging the body to hold on to water, thus blood volume increases. Now this Uptight blood vessels with more blood flowing through them is abracadabra for cardiovascular related problems. But if our diet have potassium then it encourages the kidneys to excrete sodium, thus counters the harmful cardiovascular effects of sodium surplus.
  • Zinc is a little more familiar as an edible substance, partly because people take zinc lozenges in the belief that extra zinc shortens the duration of a cold. Copper and zinc compete for absorption sites in the small intestine. If there’s a lot of zinc around, copper tends to lose out and a copper deficiency may develop.
  • Vitamin A and Vitamin E together lead to increase the antioxidant capabilities, protect against some forms of cancer, prevent obesity but the High levels of Beta carotene (a precursor of Vitamin A) decreases the serum levels of Vitamin E.
  • Several Vitamin A deficiency can decrease the uptake of iodine and impact thyroid metabolism. Problem worsens when body has too little selenium.

These are just a few interesting interaction which I think are enough to understand why I mentioned in my previous blog to seek a professional guidance when you planning to thrive on supplements.

The story has just begun:

See with the advent of supplement industry there are numerous products in the market and I agree that these industries are marketing for the good cause but when we gulp them without any professional advice then we might be hollow them in over abundance (more than the adequate levels required for our body) or may be they are not absorbing well to our system because we don’t know how actually to take them ( their dosage, their interaction with drugs, etc) which results in toxicities, like:

  • Excess Vitamin A can be toxic to developing foetus, chronic toxicity in children (bone pain, lethargy, itching, ringing in ears, scaly rashes, etc), chronic toxicity in adults (vomiting, skin changes, weakness, psychiatric disorders, hair loss, drying of skin, loss of appetite etc).
  • Excess Vitamin D can cause excess calcium in body, blood, slowed mental & physical growth, decrease appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, constipation etc.)
  • Excess of B-complex Vitamins can lead to headache, hypotension, weakness, anaphylaxis, wheezing, diarrhoea, jaundice, abnormal liver function, yellow-orange urine, sleep problems, rectal bleedings etc.
  • Excess of Vitamin E may pose a hazard to people taking blood thinning medications.

I hope now you’re able to correlate with many things of how difficult is it to assemble them in our diets and a minor up down can customise the bed full of diseases. Don’t loose hope I will discuss the major tips to align them but I insist you without any medical advice don’t try to pop them in the form of doses.

Should we take supplements or not

If you are trying to substituting your food with supplements then it’s a big no. Understand a balanced food is nutritionally preferable to pills (supplements) as it upkeep our spirits by providing a natural combination of different nutrients with fibre which you can’t get from capsules, provided you have to work a little hard to plan them in an efficient manner.

Don’t take multivitamins to fix poor diet, rather eat a balanced diet of fresh, wholesome foods.

So if we bring a few modifications in our lifestyle like: eat fresh, seasonal, local, homemade cooked meals with our traditional touch at right time then at least we are suistaining our body with wholesome nutrients but if our body still called for some ancillary support to keep deficiencies at bay then we can seek supplements advice.

Eligibility norms for supplements:

  • Those who are unable to consume wide variety of foods, for eg: people who are allergic to some foods or with certain diseases,eg: Celiac Disease, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes etc.
  • Those are vegans and vegetarians – why? See firstly it’s not completely right to say that being vegetarian means you are left with few options with essential nutrients to incooperate in your diet. Secondly, what happen when we have poor knowledge of how and in which possible way to gain essential nutrients in our diet then it becomes a mess especially for Vitamin B12 because it’s only found in animals food ( and to your surprise in your fermented foods also) so after taking advice from doctors we can take them as additional source.
  • Older adults.
  • Pregnant &breast feeding women.
  • It improves the health of overall population who is weak and inconsistent.

Best ways to take them.

Before proceeding further I would like to tell you that there are certain estimates set up by every country for the nutrients to be consumed daily to ensure the requirements of all individual in a given population. So it’s better to go through with these values which were updated, revised on the basis of newer research. Currently the RDA (Recommended dietary allowance) requirements for Indians is revised and published in 2020 by ICMR).

  • There are particular timings of taking supplements because some of them absorb well with food (remember fat soluble vitamins) like Vitamins A, D, E, K go with fat from a meal.
  • The water soluble vitamins- Vitamin C, B-complexes, can go well either with or without food with one exception of Vitamin B12- they absorb better with meal. Note: if you take Vitamin C supplements also then keep 2 hours gap between them.
  • Vitamin C and Iron are good friends as stated earlier that Vitamin C is needed for iron absorption, but do take calcium in a balanced way in your diet as it interferes with iron.
  • Large doses of mineral can compete with each other to be absorbed. According to research don’t take Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium supplements at the same time.
  • Supplements can interfere with many common medications which we might be taking or vice-versa. So the better approach is to stop taking your supplements for short term medications but for long term usage, consult your doctor for the proper understanding.
  • Try to go through the ingredients of your supplements are having, understand there is no standard Multi vitamin formula as FDA (Food and Drug administration) doesn’t regulate supplements so look for brand that is verified.
  • If you do need a supplement in your diet, look for supplement that contains the vitamins or minerals as there are lot of unnecessary ingredients also there which aren’t required and which is close to your RDA’s of vitamins and minerals.
  • Many people thrive on herbal supplements also but these should be taken with balanced approach like: Ginger (excess amount can cause problems with blood clot, heart rhythms, blood sugar levels etc); Aloe (Excess amount can cause kidney problems, abnormal heart rhythms, can lower blood sugar levels if you have diabetes, etc); Black Cohosh (Excess amount can lead to liver problems etc).

Moral of the story:

Incessantly check with a Healthcare practitioner to figure out which vitamins and minerals you may need and what’s the best way to consume them rather than becoming an autonomous medico.😊

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