Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals

These are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy and repair cellular damage.

  • There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients and getting too much.
  • Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need.
  • Although they are all considered micronutrients, vitamins and minerals differ in basic ways. Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air, or acid. Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure.
  • Minerals in soil and water easily find their way into your body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids you consume.
  • Vitamins from food and other sources are harder to get into your body because cooking, storage, and simple exposure to air can inactivate these fragile compounds.
  • Vitamin D enables your body to pluck calcium from food sources passing through your digestive tract rather than harvesting it from your bones. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron.
  • The interplay of micronutrients isn’t always cooperative; vitamin C blocks your body’s ability to assimilate the essential mineral copper and even a minor overload of manganese can worsen iron deficiency.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

These are packed into the watery portions of the foods you eat. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins; excess goes out in urine.

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  • B vitamins: Biotin (vitamin B7), Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9), Niacin (vitamin B3), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Thiamin (vitamin B1), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C

Here are some examples of how different vitamins help you maintain health: Generally, water-soluble vitamins should be replenished every few days.

  • Release energy. Several B vitamins are key components that help release energy from food.
  • Produce energy. Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin for energy production.
  • Build proteins and cells. B6, B12, and folic acid metabolize amino acids; help cells multiply.
  • Make collagen. One of many roles played by vitamin C is to help make collagen, which knits together wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms a base for teeth and bones.
  • Can stay in the body for long periods of time; several years’ supply of vitamin B12 in your liver; folic acid and vitamin C stores can last more than a couple of days.
  • Very high doses of B6—many times the recommended amount of 1.3 milligrams (mg) per day for adults—can damage nerves, causing numbness and muscle weakness.

Fat-soluble vitamins

These gain entry to the blood via lymph channels in the intestinal wall and travel through the body only under escort by proteins that act as carriers. These include: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. Together this vitamin quartet helps keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system in good repair. Here are some of the other essential roles these vitamins play:

  • Build bones. Bone formation is impossible without vitamins A, D, and K.
  • Protect vision. Vitamin A also helps keep cells healthy and protects vision.
  • Interact favorably. Without vitamin E = difficult to absorb/store vitamin A.
  • Protect the body. Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body for long periods; toxic levels can build up most likely when taking supplements, rare to get too much of a vitamin just from food.

Major minerals

These are no more important to your health than the trace minerals; they’re just present in your body in greater amounts. Travel through the body in various ways. Potassium, for example, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates freely and is excreted by the kidneys, much like a water-soluble vitamin. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a carrier for absorption and transport. Major minerals include: Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Sulfur.

One of the key tasks of major minerals is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body. Sodium, chloride, and potassium take the lead in doing this. Three other major minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—are important for healthy bones. Sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including some of those that make up hair, skin, and nails. Having too much of one major mineral can result in a deficiency of another. Here are two examples:

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  • Salt overload: Calcium binds with excess sodium in the body and is excreted when the body senses that sodium levels must be lowered: too much sodium through table salt or processed foods means losing needed calcium as your body rids itself of the surplus sodium.
  • Excess phosphorus: can hamper your ability to absorb magnesium.

Trace minerals

Their contributions are just as essential as those of major minerals, they include: Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium and Zinc. Trace minerals carry out a diverse set of tasks. Here are a few examples:

  • Iron is best known for ferrying oxygen throughout the body.
  • Fluoride strengthens bones and wards off tooth decay.
  • Zinc helps blood clot, is essential for taste and smell, and bolsters the immune response.
  • Copper helps form several enzymes; assists with iron metabolism and the creation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

Too much of one can cause or contribute to a deficiency of another. Here are some examples:

  • A minor overload of manganese can exacerbate iron deficiency.
  • Too little iodine thyroid hormone production slows, causing sluggishness and weight gain as well as other health concerns. The problem worsens if the body also has too little selenium.

The difference between “just enough” and “too much” of the trace minerals is often tiny. Generally, food is a safe source of trace minerals, but if you take supplements, it’s important to make sure you’re not exceeding safe levels.

Antioxidant

A term for any compound that can counteract unstable molecules such as free radicals that damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells. Your body cells naturally produce plenty of antioxidants to put on patrol. The foods you eat—and, perhaps, some of the supplements you take—are another source of antioxidant compounds. Carotenoids (such as lycopene in tomatoes and lutein in kale) and flavonoids (such as anthocyanins in blueberries, quercetin in apples and onions, and catechins in green tea) are antioxidants. The vitamins C and E and the mineral selenium also have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are able to neutralize marauders such as free radicals by giving up some of their own electrons.

Free radicals

Are a natural byproduct of energy metabolism and are also generated by ultraviolet rays, tobacco smoke, and air pollution. Free radicals have a well-deserved reputation for causing cellular damage. When immune system cells muster to fight intruders, the oxygen they use spins off an army of free radicals that destroys viruses, bacteria, and damaged body cells in an oxidative burst. Vitamin C can then disarm the free radicals.

Eating Right, Not Dieting

Consider the prospect of never having to diet again. Simply by eating nutritious foods and avoiding counting calories. Consider some nutrition facts below.

Nutrition

The process of breaking down food and substances taken in by the mouth to use for energy in the body. Now more focused on the steps of biochemical sequences through which substances inside us and other living organisms are transformed from one form to another – metabolism and metabolic pathways.  Nutrition also focuses on how diseases, conditions and problems can be prevented or lessened with a healthy diet. In addition, nutrition involves identifying how certain diseases, conditions or problems may be caused by dietary factors, such as poor diet (malnutrition), food allergies, metabolic diseases, etc.  The human body consists of elements and compounds (nutrients) ingested, digested, absorbed, and circulated through the bloodstream to feed the cells of the body.

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Nutrients

There are six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. These nutrient classes can be categorized as either macro-nutrients (needed in relatively large amounts) or micronutrients (needed in smaller quantities).

  1. The macronutrients include carbohydrates (including fiber), fats, protein, and water. The micronutrients are minerals and vitamins. The macronutrients (excluding fiber and water) provide structural material (amino acids from which proteins are built, and lipids from which cell membranes and some signaling molecules are built) and energy. Some of the structural material can be used to generate energy internally, and in either case it is measured in Joules or kilocalories.
  2. Other micronutrients include antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are said to influence (or protect) some body systems.

Nutrient Dense Foods

These are fresh, unprocessed foods that were grown or raised in the best, most natural conditions.  They possess and provide the most nutrients per ounce of food; the nutrients are combined within in a way to promote proper utilization within the human body.  In other words, they contain a variety of nutrients in specific combinations necessary for proper digestion, absorption, and use within the body.  When foods are processed, their molecular structure is broken down and certain components are lost, especially delicate vitamins and minerals, thus making processed foods empty calories that have little nutritional value. 

Diet and Physical Health

A nutritious diet is essential to promote and maintain overall physical health for any age.  The body needs nutrients in their naturally occurring forms to function and heal appropriately.  A diet full of nutrient dense foods provides the most effective nutrient combinations for promoting optimal physical health and helping the body to maintain its strength and integrity, defeat infection, and deter cancer development.  The best diet for health is one composed of wholesome and fresh foods that are prepared by hand and not processed for ease of consumption.  Avoiding white flour and high fructose corn syrup as much as possible can help to greatly decrease inflammation and promote joint health. 

Guidelines for Healthy Eating:

  • Aiming for regular, balanced meals and snacks, every day.
  • Hitting most of the major food groups each day to meet your needs for growth and health. 
  • Balancing nutrition-rich foods with small to moderate amounts of other foods like sweets or fast foods. 
  • Eating when hungry and stopping when full.
  • Learning about nutrition, but keeping your food as just one important part of your life, not obsessing over what you eat. 

Healthy eating habits are essential to maintaining a healthy weight and a person’s weight is the result of several factors:

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  • How much and what kinds of foods you eat.
  • Your physiologic and genetic make-up.
  • Your age and health status.
  • Whether your lifestyle includes regular physical activity.
  • Whether you use food to respond to stress and other situations in your life.

Reading Labels

A big part of healthy eating is understanding what is in the packaged foods you’re buying.  Understanding labels and product contents is very useful for planning a healthy menu.  Reading product labels is a simple habit to establish that can ensure you are purchasing the least processed foods containing the least amount of chemical additives possible.  If you cannot pronounce what is on the label then you should not be eating it. 

Eating to Lose Weight

Nutrition

What does nutrition have to do with weight loss? If we understand nutrition, then we can make choices that naturally lead to healthy and permanent weight loss. Healthy, nourished bodies naturally retain less unhealthy ‘white’ body fat overall.

Nutrition is the process of breaking down food and substances taken in by the mouth to use for energy in the body. Now more focused on the steps of biochemical sequences through which substances inside us and other living organisms are transformed from one form to another – metabolism and metabolic pathways. 

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Nutrition also focuses on how diseases, conditions and problems can be prevented or lessened with a healthy diet. In addition, nutrition involves identifying how certain diseases, conditions or problems may be caused by dietary factors, such as poor diet (malnutrition), food allergies, metabolic diseases, etc. 

The human body consists of elements and compounds (nutrients) ingested, digested, absorbed, and circulated through the bloodstream to feed the cells of the body.

Nutrients

There are six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. These nutrient classes can be categorized as either macronutrients (needed in relatively large amounts) or micronutrients (needed in smaller quantities). The macronutrients include carbohydrates (including fiber), fats, protein, and water. The micronutrients are minerals and vitamins.

The macronutrients (excluding fiber and water) provide structural material (amino acids from which proteins are built, and lipids from which cell membranes and some signaling molecules are built) and energy. Some of the structural material can be used to generate energy internally, and in either case it is measured in Joules or kilocalories.

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Other micronutrients include antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are said to influence (or protect) some body systems.

Nutrient Dense Foods

These are fresh, unprocessed foods that were grown or raised in the best, most natural conditions.  They possess and provide the most nutrients per ounce of food; the nutrients are combined within in a way to promote proper utilization within the human body.  In other words, they contain a variety of nutrients in specific combinations necessary for proper digestion, absorption, and use within the body. 

When foods are processed, their molecular structure is broken down and certain components are lost, especially delicate vitamins and minerals, thus making processed foods empty calories that have little nutritional value. 

Diet and Physical Health

A nutritious diet is essential to promote and maintain overall physical health for any age.  The body needs nutrients in their naturally occurring forms to function and heal appropriately.  A diet full of nutrient dense foods provides the most effective nutrient combinations for promoting optimal physical health and helping the body to maintain its strength and integrity, defeat infection, and deter cancer development. 

The best diet for health is one composed of wholesome and fresh foods that are prepared by hand and not processed for ease of consumption.  Avoiding white flour and high fructose corn syrup as much as possible can help to greatly decrease inflammation and promote joint health. 

Guidelines for Healthy Eating:

  • Aiming for regular, balanced meals and snacks, every day.
  • Hitting most of the major food groups each day to meet your needs for growth and health. 
  • Balancing nutrition-rich foods with small to moderate amounts of other foods like sweets or fast foods. 
  • Eating when hungry and stopping when full.
  • Learning about nutrition, but keeping your food as just one important part of your life, not obsessing over what you eat. 

Healthy eating habits are essential to maintaining a healthy weight and a person’s weight is the result of several factors:

  • How much and what kinds of foods you eat.
  • Your physiologic and genetic make-up.
  • Your age and health status.
  • Whether your lifestyle includes regular physical activity.
  • Whether you use food to respond to stress and other situations in your life.

Honey VS Sugar

Honey vs Sugar

Honey and sugar are the two most common sweeteners used in America today. Honey is often considered to be the healthier option. Is this true?

Honey and sugar are both carbohydrates, consisting of the two types of sugar: glucose and fructose. Both fructose and glucose are broken down quickly by the body and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

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Table sugar is sucrose, which is made up of two molecules bonded together. When we eat table sugar, our stomach has to use its own enzymes to separate the molecules apart before we can use the sugar’s energy. Honey is quite different. The bees have added a special enzyme to the nectar that divides the sucrose into glucose and fructose — two simple sugars for our bodies can absorb directly.

The proportions of glucose and fructose in honey and sugar are different:

  • sugar is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose
  • honey contains 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose

The remainder of honey consists of:

  • water
  • pollen
  • vitamins
  • minerals, including magnesium and potassium
  • amino acids
  • antioxidants
  • enzymes

These additional components may be responsible for some of the health benefits of honey.

Honeycomb on wooden board with honey spoon and flowers

Honey

Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) or from secretions of other insects (such as honeydew), by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. Bees store honey in wax structures called honeycombs. The variety of honey produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the best-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping.

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But honey has slightly more calories than sugar, although it is sweeter, so less may be required. Both sweeteners can lead to weight gain if overused. Also, honey is less processed than sugar as it is usually only pasteurized before use. Raw honey is also edible and contains more antioxidants and enzymes than pasteurized varieties.

Enzymes are biological molecules present in all living things, that serve a purpose of speeding up chemical reactions, like digestion. The following three enzymes are the most commonly found in raw honey: diastase (amylase), invertase, and glucose oxidase.

Diastase speeds up the process of transforming starches into maltose and, ultimately, glucose. With a lack of diastase in your system, you might suffer from partial digestion, which can prohibit your body from extracting all the nutritional value out of consumed food and leave you feeling bloated. As you age, the body begins to slow the natural production of enzymes, therefore the elderly and people who consume a lot of processed foods can greatly benefit from a bump in the amount of diastase in their diet.

Invertase assists in the breakdown of sucrose (table sugar) into its components of glucose and fructose. Invertase is critical to the prevention of toxic fermentation, ulcers, and other digestive diseases by reducing the stomach toxicity by quickly creating pre-digested simple sugars from sucrose which prevents the fermentation process from occurring. Fermentation in your stomach can often result in the fostering of bacteria and disease in the digestive tract.

Glucose oxidase assists in the breakdown of glucose into hydrogen peroxide and gluconolactone. The production of hydrogen peroxide within the body is critical, as hydrogen peroxide is often the first weapon the white blood cells (immune system) in your body will deploy to fight parasite, bacteria, toxins, and viruses.

Raw, unpasteurized honey contains trace amounts of local pollen, which may help desensitize allergic reactions. Honey also provides additional health benefits:

  • It may help kill off germs because it has antimicrobial properties.
  • When used as a salve in gel form, it may help promote healing in wounds and minor burns.
  • It may also help ease coughing and sore throats.
  • Alleviates allergies with pollen content.
  • Is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant

Sugar

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. The various types of sugar are derived from different sources. Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, and galactose. “Table sugar” or “granulated sugar” refers to sucrose, a disaccharide of glucose and fructose. In the body, sucrose is hydrolyzed into fructose and glucose.

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Sugar is higher on the glycemic index (GI) than honey, meaning it raises blood sugar levels more quickly. This is due to its higher fructose content, and the absence of trace minerals.

As a carbohydrate, sugar is a potential source of fast fuel. Your brain needs 130 grams of carbohydrate daily to function. This naturally occurring substance is also low in calories, with a teaspoon containing about 16 calories.

Eating too much sugar can increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sugar is a common ingredient in many processed foods, so you may eat more of it than you realize. This can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Sucrose: It is obtained commercially from sugarcane, sugar beet (beta vulgaris), and other plants and used extensively as a food and a sweetener. Sucrose is derived by crushing and extraction of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) with water or extraction of the sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) with water, evaporating, and purifying with lime, carbon, and various liquids. Sucrose is also obtainable from sorghum. Sucrose occurs in low percentages in honey and maple syrup.

Sucrose is used as a sweetener in foods and soft drinks, in the manufacture of syrups, in invert sugar, confectionery, preserves and jams, demulcent, pharmaceutical products, and caramel. Sucrose is also a chemical intermediate for detergents, emulsifying agents, and other sucrose derivatives. Sucrose is widespread in seeds, leaves, fruits, flowers and roots of plants, where it functions as an energy store for metabolism and as a carbon source for biosynthesis.

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The annual world production of sucrose is in excess of 90 million tons mainly from the juice of sugar cane (20%) and sugar beet (17%). In addition to its use as a sweetener, sucrose is used in food products as a preservative, antioxidant, moisture control agent, stabilizer and thickening agent.

Conclusion

So, as you can see honey is the healthier option because sugar (sucrose) undergoes chemical processing while raw honey is typically only filtered, if that. This provides for a more nourishing and environmentally friendly product for sweetening. Raw honey simply has more micronutrient activity than sugar. And don’t forget, the more honey we collect, the more bees there are out there to make it. Sugar cane does not feed bees and it is always coated in pesticides.

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317728.php
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/honey-vs-sugar
  3. https://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-vs-sugar.html
  4. http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/loveridge/index-page3.html
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814615013941
  6. https://www.beeculture.com/the-chemistry-of-honey/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar
  8. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/sucrose
  9. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-642-41609-5_30-1
  10. https://sites.google.com/site/sssavettthebbbees/honey-vs-sugar
  11. https://www.neighborhoodhive.com/pages/honey-vs-sugar