Nutrient Boosters

Nutrient Boosters ~ Vitamins

There's no question in our minds, you can protect yourself from illness and disease by making your diet, vitamin and mineral rich.

Our bodies rely on a steady diet to keep healthy.

In fact, a growing number of studies show that even a modest vitamin shortfall can be harmful to our health.

What's more, they may lower our risk for heart disease, cataracts and breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

Since our bodies don't make vitamins and minerals on their own, it's important to get enough from the foods we eat.

The following strategies will help you pack a powerful nutritional punch.

A carrot a day provides a healthy dose of vitamin-A that fights infection, allows you to see well at night, and helps maintain healthy skin, hair and bones.

In fact, one medium carrot has six times the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin-A and is loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant that may protect against certain types of cancer, including cervical and lung cancer.

And don't forgo the veggie dip because a "little" fat helps your body absorb these two nutrients more efficiently.

For an injection of vitamin-C, skip the diet soda and down a glass of low sodium tomato juice or tomato based vegetable cocktail instead.

Just a cup (250 mL.) provides more than 50 per cent of your daily quota.

Here's the bonus, tomato based foods are rich in lycopene, a natural plant chemical that may protect against prostate cancer.

Eat avocado for a hit of vitamins-E and B6.

Both are essential for keeping the immune system healthy and may help prevent hardening of the arteries.

You can add slices of this fruit to sandwiches, salads, omelets and tacos.

Make spinach the green of choice to increase your folate intake.

This B vitamin helps prevent birth defects and may also protect against heart disease and breast cancer.

Adults need 400 micrograms of folate each day (600 micrograms if you're pregnant).

One half cup (125 ml.)of spinach packs 139 micrograms of folate.

Add spinach leaves to sandwiches, wraps, salads, pasta sauces and soups.

Or steam it and eat it on its own.

Enjoy a low fat latte (preferably decaf) for an excellent source of bone building calcium.

This energy-boosting midday snack not only adds 300 milligrams of calcium to your diet, it also provides a healthy dose of vitamin-D, another important bone protector nutrient.

If you don't like coffee, try a Chai tea instead, a delicious blend of Indian spices, black tea and steamed milk.

Top your next bowl of hot cereal with black-strap molasses for a boost of iron.

One tablespoon (15 mL.) provides 3.2 milligrams of iron which is almost 20 per cent of a young woman's daily iron requirement, and 40 per cent of the daily iron requirement for women in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

You'll also get 144 milligrams of calcium.

Boost your intake of key minerals such as magnesium, chromium, selenium and zinc by adding two tablespoons (30 mL.) of wheat germ to yogurt, breakfast smoothies, muffin batters and casseroles.

Magnesium and chromium help the body generate energy.

Selenium may protect against cancer, especially prostate cancer and zinc is important for a healthy immune system.

A handful of peanuts each day (or two Tbs./30 mL. of peanut butter) provides almost 50 per cent of your daily requirement for copper, an important mineral needed to maintain bone mass and prevent anemia.

A regular intake of nuts may also ward off heart disease.

Add a quarter cup (50 mL.) of peanuts to a stir-fry, a bowl of yogurt or a green salad.

Quench your thirst with water, the forgotten nutrient.

Water transports other nutrients and oxygen to cells and removes waste products from the body, and it helps muscles cool down during exercise.

Keep a filled water bottle handy on your desk at work, in your car and at the gym.

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