Practical Nutrition Science - Living longer through proper diet and exercise

The topic of nutrition seems daunting to the average Joe. After all, most macro and micro nutrients are practically invisible to the eye, and we don't know what happens inside our guts whenever we ingest food.

My goal here is to simplify nutrition science so that anyone can understand and apply its principles in our daily lives.

The best way to understand nutrition is to break it down into its components. So let's start out with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

There are around 50 vitamins, minerals and antioxidants out there, and each of them have a specific function and role in nutrition. Some people, especially those living in under-developed countries seem to think that taking vitamins and minerals is optional because they feel that they already get everything they need from the food they eat. Those of us who are more enlightened know and realize that modern farming and food processing techniques have stripped away most of the essential vitamins and minerals from our food long before it gets to our table.

For example, the bleaches that we use on vegetables and fruits to clean them up leaves behind organochlorine carcinogenic compounds on our food. No wonder colon cancer is so prevalent in this modern day. Simply cleaning with water and brushing removes most of the bacteria and residues. Canning, which began with glass jars and was invented in 1795 by a French chef (Nicolas Appert) who was challenged by Napoleon to find a way to preserve food for the military, is starting to produce side effects in people. Most canned goods contain lots of sodium, salt, and sugar as preservatives, aside from the chemical preservatives that they use these days. These have a long-term effect on our bodies.

So, what are these vitamins and minerals, and what part of the body do they affect? Let me enumerate them:

NAME
CLASSIFICATION
GOOD FOR
SOURCES
Carnosine
antioxidant
beauty
chicken, beef, pork
Superoxide Dimustase
antioxidant
beauty
vegetables
Alpha Carotene
vitamins
beauty
fruits, vegetables
PABA
vitamins
beauty
liver, grains
Vitamin A
vitamins
beauty
milk, eggs, fish
Vitamin B7
vitamins
beauty
milk, eggs, grains
Zinc
minerals
beauty
fish, beef
Taurine
antioxidant
body
eggs, fish, beef
Glutathione
antioxidant
body
fruits, vegetables
Glutamine
antioxidant
body
vegetables
DHEA
antioxidant
body
pills
Vitamin D
vitamin
body
sun
Lutein
antioxidant
body
eggs, vegetables
Zeaxanthin
antioxidant
body
fruits, vegetables
Curcumin
antioxidant
body
spices
Boron
mineral
body
fruits, vegetables
Calcium
mineral
body
milk, vegetables
Magnesium
mineral
heart
vegetables
Copper
mineral
heart
beef, fish, grains
Gingko Biloba
vitamin
heart
tea
Vitamin B6
vitamin
heart
beef, fish, chicken
Iron
mineral
heart
vegetables, grains
Resveratrol
antioxidant
heart
wine
Vitamin B12
vitamin
heart
beef, eggs, milk
Co-enzyme Q10
antioxidant
heart
fish, vegetables
Vitamin K
vitamin
heart
vegetables
Choline
vitamin
brain
beef, eggs, vegetables
Vitamin B1
vitamin
brain
fish, vegetables
Vitamin B5
vitamin
brain
liver, eggs
Vitamin B2
vitamin
brain
milk
Vitamin B3
vitamin
brain
beef, chicken
DMAE
antioxidant
brain
fish
Vitamin C
vitamin
immunity
fruits, vegetables
Acetylcisteine
antioxidant
immunity
fruits, grains
Lycopene
antioxidant
immunity
fruits, vegetables
Pycnogenol
antioxidant
immunity
pills
Genetein
antioxidant
immunity
vegetables
Germanium
antioxidant
immunity
aloe vera, fruits, tea
Catalase
antioxidant
all
liver, vegetables
Alpha-lipoic Acid
antioxidant
all
liver, vegetables
Chromium
mineral
all
milk, vegetables
Manganese
mineral
all
vegetables, grains
Selenium
mineral
all
vegetables, grains
Inositol
vitamin
all
fruits, grains
Vitamin E
vitamin
all
grains
Vitamin B9
vitamin
all
beef, vegetables

The Importance of Supplementation

Looking at the table above and analyzing it, you'll immediately realize one thing - you need to eat a variety of foods in order to get the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For example, vegetarians need to supplement their diet with vitamin B12, which is found in beef, eggs and milk, but rarely in vegetables. So if you prefer a certain group of foods, chances are you're missing out on certain nutrients.

If you don't eat much fruits and vegetables, then you're most likely deficient in Vitamin C. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have either minor or severe symptoms. British sailors during the early 1800's sucked on limes to prevent scurvy, which was a common killer on long sea voyages. They realized that fruit with a high citrus content would prevent scurvy. Hence the term 'limey', which is slang for British guy.

The human stomach can only hold as much as 2 to 3 liters of food. This means you won't be able to get all these vitamins and minerals if you depend on food alone. This is where supplementation comes in. Modern supplements have such a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they can actually make up for the deficiencies in our daily diet.

When I was into bodybuilding, I carefully monitored my food and vitamin intake to make sure that I had enough nutrients to sustain my strenuous workouts without pigging out on food. A typical daily 'cocktail' of vitamins included:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid amino acids (basic protein for the muscles)
  • 4 to 5 tablets of brewer's yeast - a by-product of beer fermentation; this contains high quantities of the B vitamins. These vitamins are water soluble, so there's no danger of overdose since it passes thru our body during urination and sweating.
  • Wheat germ oil - contains lots of D-alpha tocopherol, which is natural vitamin E. This vitamin helps prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular disease by improving blood oxygen circulation.
  • Lecit-E - a capsule that contains vitamin E and lecithin, which has several benefits: liver and cell function, fat transport and fat metabolism , reproduction and child development, treatment for gallstones, Improvement in memory, learning and reaction time, healthy hair and skin, cell communication,physical performance and muscle endurance, and relief from arthritis.Wow! That's a lot of benefits from just one nutrient. Eggs, soy beans, and fish are rich in lecithin.
  • A B-complex tablet.
  • A multivitamin-mineral tablet like Centrum.
  • Enzyplex - a mixture of different digestive enzymes. Helps break down food into micro nutrients.
  • Ginseng.

I took this mega-supplement cocktail for many, many years. Maybe that's why I don't look old at 49 years and can still beat my 16-year-old son at pingpong (a sport requiring lots of speed and stamina) on any given day.

Nowadays I only supplement with wheat grass (more on this later), Centrum, and maybe Circulan (aids in blood circulation), and Korgivit-E (Korean ginseng with vitamin E). I bowl twice a week, walk several miles a week, play ping pong at least twice a week, and sometimes lift weights when time permits. I'd swim daily if I had access to a heated pool here in Baguio, which I don't :-(

NEXT: Understanding your body type.

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Comments 3 comments

mvallar profile image

mvallar 5 years ago from Angeles City, Philippines Author

thanks for your kind comments. I intend to add more to this particular hub, drawing from my more than 10 years of weight training and nutrition experience. Hope it continues to enlighten the readers.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A very well informed and presented hub.

I am sure many will benefit from reading this hub.

Take care and enjoy your day.

Eiddwen.


peramore20 profile image

peramore20 5 years ago from Turtle Creek, PA

I do a lot of writing about nutrition, so its always been kind of a passion of mine. You present some very interesting facts. Great hub!

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