The Need for Nutrients
We are not all alike. The needs for your particular lifestyle must be adequately covered, preferably through eating more of the appropriate kinds of foods. In cases where nutritional deficiencies are causing health problems, the use of nutritional supplements may also be helpful. For example, if you smoke and drink alcohol frequently your nutritional needs will be higher. If you are pregnant, if you live in a polluted environment, if you have a high stress occupation or are suffering emotional stress, if you suffer from allergies, if you have any sort of disease, degenerative illness or inherited weakness - all of these factors may increase your needs.
The poor nutritional quality of many purchased foods is another factor. Depleted soils and lengthy storage, as well as toxicity from pesticides, antibiotics, additives, and so on can make an apparently healthy food of little value. Tests have shown that, for example, most people do not obtain adequate zinc, folic acid or the essential fatty acids in their diet, and health (physical and mental) suffers - the weakest link of the inter-acting bodily systems inevitably gives way.
Deficiency of any of the essential nutrients (below the RDA amount) will, over a period of time, result in illness. Recent research has shown that most of the population in Western countries is deficient in at least a few nutrients (the most common being zinc, selenium, B and C vitamins) and literally on the edge of illness.
Moreover, individual nutritional needs are frequently higher than the RDA amounts, and to reverse the effects of decades of poor diet and the resulting toxicity, yet alone to attain optimum health, larger amounts are required - preferably as part of an improved diet but if necessary, through supplements as well.
An Optimum Nutrition Formula
Vitamins and minerals are essential for almost every function of the body. They are vital for energy and they protect you from premature ageing and degenerative diseases. And because they work together they are best digested and absorbed as natural and wholesome foods, in the context of a balanced and varied diet, not just in isolation in the form of nutritional supplements.
Nevertheless, supplements can play a role to prevent the risk of deficiencies occurring and to remedy health symptoms caused by long-standing deficiencies due to inadequacies in our diet - all too common with cultural bad eating habits and over-processed foods. If you are suffering from significant health problems caused by dietary deficiencies, it is best to obtain personal professional guidance for remedial therapy from a nutritional consultant, who will work in liaison with your doctor.
The question is, how much do you need of the various vitamins and minerals? There's a big difference between the amount required to prevent deficiencies that would lead to serious degeneration, and the amount of each vitamin and mineral you need for optimum health. A few years ago, scientists at the University of Alabama worked this out for every nutrient and called the amounts Suggested Optimal Nutrient Allowances or SONAs. The following formula is based on SONAs and gives the amount of each essential vitamin and mineral that you need contained in your diet (with supplementation if necessary) for optimal health.
including the deficiency symptoms for each nutrient
An excellent, varied diet will go a long way to providing the nutrients needed every day, and will supply the many factors that enable proper digestion and help to detoxify the body. Eat fresh, locally-grown, in-season organic produce. Eat slowly and chew your food well. A healthy, nutritional diet includes the following:
- Fruits: apple, banana, grapefruit, orange, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, cherry, grape, fig, pear, plum, peach, melon, plantain, papaya, pineapple, coconut...
- Vegetables: potato, tomato, carrot, onion, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, avocado, asparagus, zucchini, scallion, parsley, spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, squash, radish, okra...
- Whole grains: kasha, basmati rice, wild rice, wheat, oats, barley, kamut, spelt, quinoa, rye, millet...
- Unsweetened whole grain bread and pasta.
- Whole milk, cheese, and butter.
- Unsalted roasted nuts: peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia...
- Unsalted seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax, psyllium...
- Nut and seed butters.
- Beans (cook well): kidney, pinto, navy, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, black turtle beans, lima beans...
- Grain-fed eggs, cooked well.
- Fresh fish, especially salmon.
- Plain non-iodized sea salt in moderation.
- Extra-virgin olive oil in moderation.
- Herbs and spices in moderation (use hot spices sparingly): garlic, ginger, basil, dill, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, sage, fennel, red pepper, black pepper, cumin, chili powder...
An excellent example of a complete, balanced diet is described by Dr Hugh Mann at OrganicMD.org.
By Susun S. Weed - voice of the Wise Woman Way
A particular individual may need more of the nutrients in which he or she has been deficient or on the edge of deficiency for many years. A guide to this requirement is the deficiency symptoms listed on the SONA chart. Other important factors include essential fatty acids, enzymes and special complex carbohydrates that can aid the digestive system, beneficial bacteria and the many phytochemicals that are found in live plant foods (exemplified by the many valuable herbal remedies) that play an important role. These factors can be provided by an optimum diet, but as with vitamins and minerals, supplements may be helpful to remedy ailments or balance deficiencies in the diet. This is best done in liaison with a nutritional consultant, naturopath or nutritionally-aware doctor, who is best qualified to determine your personal needs.
I recommend to everybody who is genuinely interested in achieving optimum health, as well as those who are suffering from deficiency symptoms, that they obtain professional advice. There really is no substitute for this, even if you feel just fine - the expert's advice will help you to stay that way! Following a detailed personal analysis you will know which particular nutrients are needed, and in what precise amounts (and what foods or supplements are best to supply them), to correct deficiency symptoms or states of ill-health such as hypoglycemia, Candida, chronic fatigue, poor digestion, high toxicity, trace element pollution, etc. as well as possible allergic responses that need handling. If you are being prescribed medication by a doctor, it is essential that this also be taken into account.
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