The Real Plug: Vitamins and Minerals
In our bodies we have enzymes, the catalyst for our chemical processes, that serve to build and restore function. These processes include growing hair, muscles, and strengthening the immune system. Enzymes need co-factors (co-enzymes) to trigger reaction. This is where the real plug comes into play: vitamins and minerals.
I will list the vitamins and minerals in their respective categories with popular sources and plug actions.
Water Soluble: Dissolve in water and with the exception of vitamins B6 and B12, have to be replaced in the body consistently.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1): Found in beans, lentils, spinach, whole wheat, sunflower seeds and tuna.
Plug Action: Carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Common sources are yogurt, eggs, almonds, mushrooms and soy/tempeh
Plug Action: Assist in carbohydrate, amino acid and lipid(fat) metabolism
Niacin (B3): Common sources include brown rice, sweet potato, green leafy veggies, carrots, and lean cuts of meat.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Common sources include whole wheat, brown rice, banana, spinach, salmon, peanut butter
Plug Action: Protein metabolism, red blood cell production, glycogenolysis (converting stored glycogen to glucose), tryptophan to niacin and immune system function. This vitamin is a major key. Now, you do not need to go crazy and consume tons of B6, you will intake plenty with the sources above.
Folate (B9): Common sources include folic acid (supplement form of folate), broccoli, leafy green veggies, brussel sprouts, avocado, peanuts, banana
Plug Action: DNA production, red and white blood cell production, and metabolism of amino acids.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): common sources include salmon, eggs, fortified cereals, liver, oyesters, clams, milk
Plug Action: Ensure normal function of cells in bone marrow, nervous tissue, and gastrointestinal tract
Biotin: Common sources include leafy green veggies, nuts, banana, salmon, and egss
Plug Action: Makes sure the other B vitamins (folic acid, B12, and pantothenic acid) are functioning properly
Pantothenic Acid: Common sources include just about all plant and animal food sources
Plug Action: Metabolism of fatty acids, carbohydrates, and amino acids
Vitamin C: Common sources include kiwi, cantaloupe, orange, sweet potato, pineapple, various citrus fruits
Plug Action: Serve as an antioxidant, help in the formation of collagen, improve iron absorption, and resist infections
Your water-soluble vitamins will look something like this
Moving Forward, let's talk about the Fat Soluble vitamins that dissolve in fat and are stored in fat for later usage.
Vitamin A: Common sources include sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, beef, eggs, peaches
Plug Action: Maintenance of vision, growth, development of epithelial tissue.
Vitamin D: Common sources include sunlight, mushrooms, sardines, eggs, supplements
Plug Action: Vitamin D gets more love since it is extremely important. First, Vitamin D is not really a vitamin since it functions more as a steroid prohormone. The body typically converts cholesterol into vitamin D (which is why eggs, animal proteins and sunshine are a major key) for utilization. There are two sources, D2 (plant sources) and D3 (sunlight & animal proteins) which are structurally similar but need to be converted in the body. Vitamin D is key in calcium and phosphorus absorption but also plays a major role in athletes in terms of muscle recovery and adaptation, fatigue, and insulin sensitivity.
Vitamin E: Common sources include green leafy veggies, avocado, tomatoes, seeds & nuts, olives, almonds
Plug Action: Metabolism of all cells and protect and against oxidative stress. You need this.
Vitamin K: Common sources include green beans, asparagus, carrots, brussel sprouts, cabbage
Plug Action: Blood clotting. If you do not have enough of this you will bleed too much. This sounds pretty intense but deficiency is very rare but this is the main function of the vitamin.
Fat-Soluble vitamins will look something like
Macrominerals: We need more than 100mg daily
Calcium: Common sources include legumes, green leafy veggies, sesame seeds, milk
Plug Action: Outside of being the most abundant mineral, calcium is huge in muscle contraction, bone mineralization, blood clotting, blood pressure control, and immune function. Calcium is a major key.
Phosphorus: Common sources include nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, seafood, whole grains
Plug Action: Filter out waste, energy production by contributing to the break down of the macronutrients, and growth of all tissues in cells. Major key.
Magnesium: Common sources include nuts, seeds, fruit, whole grains, avocado
Plug Action: Protein production, muscle contraction, healthy teeth and bone mineralization
Sulfur: Common sources include poultry, meat, fish, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower
Microminerals: We need less than 20mg daily
Iron: Common sources include brown rice, beans, almonds, beef, chicken, pork
Plug Action: Regulates cell growth and differentiation. Very important in carrying oxygen to exercising muscles. Athletes, women in particular, have high incidences of deficiency here that can deter athletic performance.
Iodine: Common sources include iodized salt, eggs, strawberries, leafy green veggies
Plug Action: Essential for proper thyroid function.
Selenium: Common sources include salmon, brazil nuts, eggs, walnuts, various plant foods
Plug Action: Serves as an antioxidant and essential in thyroid function
Zinc: Common sources include pumkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, oysters, fish, poultry, milk
Plug Action: Promotes healthy immune function, wound healing, strengthens taste and smell senses
Chromium: Common sources include potatoes, nuts, oats, whole grains
Plug Action: Key in effectiveness of insulin and glucose metabolism
Copper: Common sources include green leafy veggies, soybeans, cashews, oysters
Plug Action: Aids in the formation of red blood cells, collagen formation, aids in absorption of iron
Vitamins and minerals are immensely important to not only effectively reach your goals, but for normal day to day health. Understanding the functions of these vitamins and minerals will give you the underlying basics of why you need a whole food diet. Reading through you will see common occurences of the need to eat beef, poultry, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to maintain proper function. There are multiple outlets to get your vitamins and minerals but just remember, if you want to reach the level of performance that you seek your plug is the vitamins and minerals listed above.