health begins in the gut

Guide To Eating For Optimal Health (Food Sources Of Vitamins And Minerals)

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway

In functional medicine (of which functional nutrition is the core), we often use supplements to enhance our health status, and doing so can be necessary to help replete nutrient deficiency, and to help address underlying metabolic imbalances and blocked biochemical pathways (for example).

 

It is important to keep in mind that while supplements can be helpful, they cannot and should not replace whole, real food sources of nutrition. Food is medicine and is our first line of defense against illness and disease. Food is also the primary vehicle for fueling our bodies with the nutrients we need to function.

 

Below are food sources of vitamins and minerals. This is not an exhaustive list, these are examples of foods containing these important nutrients. Do take into account your individual food allergies, sensitivities and tolerances, and health needs. Everyone is different, there is no one size fits all approach!

 

Incorporating food sources of vitamins and minerals into your diet daily is important for overall health and wellness, as well as for combating illness and disease. 

 

Vitamins: Biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K

Minerals: Calcium, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc

Essential amino acids (essential means you need to get them from your diet, your body doesn’t make them): Lysine, histidine, threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan

Other nutrients: Choline, essential fatty acids (need to get them from your diet, your body doesn’t make them), fiber

 

Vitamins

 

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches

Niacin (B3): Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

Pantothenic acid (B5): Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

Riboflavin (B2): Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

Thiamin (B1): Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach  

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Vitamin K: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver,  sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria

 

Minerals

 

Calcium: Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans (white, red, pinto), lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), broccoli, amaranth, dried figs, orange, yogurt, cheese, milk

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), nuts (cashews), seeds (sunflower seeds), garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans, raw kale, oysters, avocado

Fluoride: Canned crab, rice, fish, chicken

Iodine: Cod, shrimp, milk (cow's), boiled egg, navy beans, baked potato with skin, turkey breast, seaweed

Iron (heme iron is found in animal products and nonheme iron is found in some plant foods): Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna, mussels, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, white beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Magnesium: Fatty fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel), spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans, dark chocolate (70% and higher), nuts and seeds, legumes, tofu, buckwheat, quinoa, bananas, leafy greens

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Molybdenum: Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, and grain products and nuts

Phosphorus: Salmon, yogurt, milk, halibut, turkey, chicken, beef, lentils, almonds, cheese (mozzarella), peanuts, egg, whole-wheat bread

Potassium: Bananas, potatoes, prune juice, prunes, oranges, tomatoes, raisins, artichoke, lima beans, white beans, black beans, edamame, tomato paste, spinach, acorn squash, butternut squash, almonds, sunflower seeds, molasses, avocados, sweet potatoes, watermelon, coconut water, dried apricots, Swiss chard, beets, pomegranate

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (yellowfin), oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, crab, pork, beef, chicken, brown rice, sunflower seeds, milk

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

 

Essential Amino Acids

Lysine: Meat, eggs, soy, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, black beans

Histidine: Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, whole grains

Threonine: Wheat germ, cottage cheese

Methionine: Eggs, grains nuts, seeds

Valine: Cheese, peanuts, soy, mushrooms, vegetables, whole grains

Isoleucine: Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts, seeds

Leucine: Dairy, soy, legumes, beans

Phenylalanine: Meat, poultry, fish, soy, dairy, beans, nuts

Tryptophan: Cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, wheat germ

Other Nutrients

 

Choline: Beef liver, wheat germ, egg, beef, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, Atlantic cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, milk, peanuts and peanut butter

Essential fatty acids (Omega 3s/DHA and EPA): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

FiberLegumes (navy beans, split peas, lentils, kidney beans), cereals/grains (oats, bulgur, oat bran, quinoa, rice), vegetables (artichoke hearts, spinach, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, mushrooms), fruit (prunes, berries, apples), nuts and seeds (almonds, pistachios, pecans, peanuts)

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, lycopene (pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots, tomatoes), beta-carotene (peaches, apricots, papayas, mangoes, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, beet greens, spinach, kale), lutein (spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, papayas, oranges)

 

Avoid high mercury fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting


General recommendations

 

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.


Guide To Eating For Insulin Resistance And Diabetes

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

Deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals that play important roles in glucose metabolism and insulin signaling pathways may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Shifting from a diet that is nutrient-poor to one that is nutrient-dense, low glycemic and high fiber is important, and a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals can help you avoid nutrient deficiencies that are associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. A diet rich in plant foods including fresh whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains (like a Mediterranean style diet) can improve how genes that control insulin function and obesity work (where obesity is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes). Along with eating a nutrient-dense diet to resolve nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle modification (including stress management), engaging in interval training and physical activity, and the appropriate use of dietary supplements can enhance mitochondrial function (energy production) and reduce oxidative stress, where these factors are important for improved glycemic (blood sugar) control.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help manage insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

Nutrients important for managing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes: Vitamin B3, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, inositol, carnitine, glutamine, CoQ10, glutathione, cysteine, lipoic acid, zinc, magnesium, chromium, vanadium, quercetin, resveratrol, omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA), PABA, GABA, antioxidants

Foods containing nutrients for the management of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice

B12: Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Inositol: Inositol is found in cereals and vegetables as phytic acid (combination of inositol and phosphorus). Lecithin granules, beef heart, desiccated liver, wheat germ, lecithin oil, liver, brown rice, citrus fruits, nuts, leafy green vegetables, molasses

Carnitine: Beef steak, ground beef, pork, whole milk, cod, chicken breast, avocado, asparagus

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Lipoic acid: Broccoli, spinach, red meat, organ meat, Brussels sprouts, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, Brewer's yeast

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Chromium: Brewer's yeast, mussels, oysters, pears, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, tomatoes, broccoli, egg yolk, prunes, herring, dried basil, turkey breast, cheese, organ meats. Food rich in vitamin C (red peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries) can improve absorption of chromium.

Vanadium: Mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsely, dill weed, beer, wine, whole grains, tomatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, garlic, radishes, onions, cabbage

Quercetin: Apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, raw asparagus, raw red onion, olive oil, black and green tea, beans/legumes, cocoa

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

DHA and EPA: (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats) Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): Whole grains, folate rich vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches), Brewer's yeast

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): Fermented foods (kimchi, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt). Flavonoid phytonutrients may enhance GABA function (berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, tea, cocoa, wine).

Antioxidants: Virtually all plant foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, kidney beans, dark chocolate

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.


Guide To Eating For Larger Bodies

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

There are greater metabolic needs, and certain nutrients more likely to be deficient if you are living in a larger body.

These include vitamin D, chromium, B vitamins (including folate, B12 and biotin), and antioxidant vitamins (vitamin A, E and C). As well, coppermagnesiumselenium, iron, zinc, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Omega 6/omega 3 fat ratio can be high. This is inflammatory so balancing this ratio is important by reducing your intake of omega 6 fats and increasing intake of omega 3 fat foods.

In addition to nourishing your body with foods rich in these nutrients, nutrient supplementation can be helpful for restoring imbalances to a more optimal state. Talk to a professional about what supplements may be right for you. Everyone is different and has different needs.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet

Nutrients for larger bodies: B complex vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, chromium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, beta-carotene, lycopene, omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA)

Foods containing these nutrients

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Beta-carotene: Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), squash, sweet red peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, dried apricots (high in sugar)

Lycopene: Guava, watermelon, tomatoes (cooked has higher content), papaya, grapefruit, sweet red peppers (cooked has higher content), asparagus (cooked has higher content), mango, purple cabbage, carrots

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil.

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

  • Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

  • Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.