“Come and get it!”… (Insert ringing dinner bell HERE.)
March has been declared National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in honor of one our nation’s favorite pastimes—food! Let’s use this celebration as a time to refocus our attention from stampeding the table for a delicious meal, to the actual nutrients we're obtaining when we get there…and in turn, the series of metabolic activities we set in motion as a result.
Why the change of focus, you ask? Because of the immense bearing nutrition has on our overall health, of course!
As the famous gastronome, Brillat-Savarin, once suggested, we are indeed what we eat! Let’s face it…our body tricks us into thinking our motivation to eat is simply to satisfy the hunger monster that growls deep within our bowels and, oh boy, when that little monster gets angry, it’s easy to grab the first thing we can get our hands on (a greasy burrito, a donut or two, perhaps a 52 oz cola).
Unfortunately, what this voiceless wisdom really desires is a high-quality assortment of nutrients to feed cellular cycles, build cells and tissues, detoxify metabolites, harvest energy, synthesize hormones and neurotransmitters, and ultimately, to sustain the life of the human organism. Therefore, the quality of the ingredients entering our mouths absolutely deserves our highest attention. Without proper nutrition, optimal functioning of these essential life events simply does not occur and, further, we’re paving the way for health decline and potential disease processes—ugh, bring on the Pepto, I just lost my appetite!
No need to dismay, however. Let’s dissect one piece of the nutrition puzzle, the fat soluble nutrients: A, D, E, K, and CoQ10. And we’re not referring to frank deficiency states, that’s old news…yes, vitamin A deficiency is a common cause of blindness throughout the world; D deficiency may lead to osteoporosis; vitamin K deficiency is a detriment to the clotting cascade, et cetera.
Let’s consider the gray zone, the tricky area wherein flagrant, full-on deficiency is not at play, levels are merely less than optimal, but retain the capacity to invoke health decline all the same:
Less than optimal vitamin A levels have been linked to poor immune function, anorexia, anemia, and a number of skin conditions.
Sources of vitamin A: spirulina, carrot juice, wheat grass, collard greens, or add sweet potato into the mix to ramp up levels.
Less than optimal vitamin D, must I go there? Thankfully, we’re learning a lot more by way of vitamin D’s expansive role within the body beyond bone health…increased cancer risk, mental/emotional dysfunction, and autoimmune conditions.
Sources of vitamin D: halibut, cod liver oil, sardines, mushrooms—and of course sunshine, but that’s not a food!
Less than optimal vitamin E may increase risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological disease, in addition to poor skin health.
Less than optimal vitamin K not only hinders the ability to clot, it negatively affects bone density and increases fracture risk.
Lastly, less than optimal CoQ10 has been correlated to poor cardiovascular function, muscular pain syndromes, poor energy, and mitochondriopathies (malfunctioning of the little “energy furnaces” in our cells).
So there you have it! By focusing on the nutrients we’re putting into our bodies and taking an inventory of our actual levels, we're able to pinpoint the root cause of various ailments or, better yet, prevent calamitous health effects before they take root.
Remember to check out the Fat Soluble Nutrients Panel in honor of National Nutrition Month…now, who’s hungry??
Best of Health ~ Dr. Rachel Marynowski