How to recover the proper nutrition?

Trace elements and other useful elements in the food

   Recovering the healthy nutrition depends on us. First of all, we have to know in what we are departing from the proper nutrition. As soon as we discover these points, we can recover them easily. For this we need to know what the body needs and why. This web site helps you in this. After this summary you won't have any trouble regarding healthy nutrition.

   Carbohydrates are the most frequent organic molecules in the nature. They contain only three elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen). They are the most important energy resources for the organism; 50-70 percent of the energy taken in the organism derives from carbohydrates. Their other important functions are: they are part of the build up of the determiner of the inherited qualities, the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the ribonucleinic acid (RNA), and they are also part of the build up of the indispensable amino acids, fatty acids and connective tissue, and help the defense of mucous membrane. So you can see that they are very useful, but you can't feed one only with carbohydrates bacuse the organism stores the exceed as fat. The organism obtains its resources from fat. The wrong nutrition urge the body "to store", and this is the way to put on weight.

    The carbohydrates of the food which cannot be digested (starch, cellulose), as a matter of fact, do not give energy, but the bacterium of the intestines break down some part of them, so they are utilized in a small degree. But as fibre they have an important role: they help peristaltic movement, they have a good effect on the absorption of a lot of elements, they make you feel you're full. But in an extreme degree they are disadvanatageous: they inhibit the absorption of minerals and trace elements, and they produce too much gas in the intestines.

How many carbohydrates do we need?   

   To maintain the balance of the metabolism our food needs to contain at least 50 g carbohydrate. If we take in 200 g carbohydrates per day, the glucose stores of the body fill up. The brain, which has the glucose as basic energy resource, uses 140 g glucose per day. If we take in carbohydrates in sufficient quantity, it helps the body to "save" proteins.

   If the glucose stores are filled up, the glucose intake transforms into fat in the liver. Too much carbohydrate causes overweight. But if we take in carbohydrates propotionally, they do not cause overweight. The carbohydrates need to be transformed into fat first, which needs a lot of energy. Almost quarter of the carbohydrate intake is consumed in the process of this transformation, so this wont't result in fat. Fat can be stored without any energy cost. 

  Fats can give the most energy to the body. According to the rules of healthy nutrition you would be well advised to take in 30 percent of the energy intake from fats. But beside of these facts, the quality of fat taken in is also important to the proper nutrition.

    Fats can be divided into several groups on the basis of the structure of their main element, the fatty acid. Saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are ditinct in their quantity of hydrogen. This means that unsaturated fats contain the less hydrogen. In our nutrition unsaturated fats are the most important, mainly those of vegetable origin.

   You should know that however particular products (butter, margarine, semi-finished products, ready-made products) are made from vegetable oils, during the production they are hydrogenated, which changes the origin structure of the fatty acids.

Harmful fats

    Fats rich in saturated fats are mainly animal fats, such as lard (pig fat), butter and their most obvious feature that they are solid at room temperature. They can be also found in cold cuts, tinned meals as so-called hidden fats. Saturated fats can be also found in vegetables (coconut oil, palm oil). These fats give energy but beside this they aren't of much use. Consuming of them in a great quantity increase the risk of coronary heart disease, because they settle, they close the blood vessels and increase cholesterol level.

Useful fats

    The other group of fats is unsaturated fats, which is composed of monosaturated fats ands polysaturated fats. Fruits and vegetables are rich in unsaturated fats. Mainly apple and pear (particularly their peel) contains a lot. They can also be found in olive oil, rape oil and oily seeds. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in most of oils and fish oils. They are liquid at room temperature and help the funtion of the nerve system, they produce hormones and increase the fat metabolism.

    Proteins are organic macromolecules composed of linear polimers (a chain of the same molcules one after the other) of amino acids.

   Proteins are of high importance as they participate in every process going on in a cellular. A lot of protein is a catalyst of some kind of a biochemical process. Several kinds of proteins exists; amino acids, enzymes, hormones, etc. are composed of them.

   The organism obtains amino acids from the proteins of the food and uses them for building up its proteins and other elements contaning nytrogen. So protein necessity means amino necessity, The protein level in the human body is 14-16% and the level of free amino acids is around 0,1%.

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Trace elements
At the birth they compose 0,1 percent of the body - which is only 4 g in case of a 4 kg baby. However their presence is very important. Our health and tend to illnesses depends on them.

  Beside these positive characters you should watch not to fall victim to take in pills without selecting, because the too much intake of one trace element or the other could have a bad effect on the adsorption of another. This applies mainly on the products containing a huge quantity of metal trace elements. The popular products which contain trace elements in a combined quantity are not a source of worry.

The long-running consequence of iron deficiency can be anaemia (condition in which there are too few red cells in your blood).

In this case:
- the physical efficiency lessens
- not only the groving of the child retards but their cognitive and motoric (relating to movement) development will be slowed down significantly 

   This is a defect which occurs between the age of 12-18 months and can't be prevented or reversed with inceased iron intake. These children at the age of 6-7 years will be still behind their contemporary in the field of study and memory.

   Under normal circumstances the iron taken in with the food is sufficient to the protection and maintenance of the ideal iron quantity. For children and pregnant women it is advisable to take in iron but only under control of the doctor. Iron is used with therapeutic purposes in case of increased loss of blood: strong mentruation, bleeding gastric or duodenal ulcer.

   Lack of cupper is rarer than lack of iron. Although Menkes disease (also called the kinky hair disease) is the evidence of the importance of this trcae element. This disease can also attack children suffering from lack of cupper and because of it their bones are getting more fragile and they have growing disorders.

   Usually we don't take in too less zinc but zinc deficiency can happen if we don't take care of taking in natural zinc.
Good to know: The body needs 15-20 mg of zinc per day, which can be found in 200 g of liver of calf or 300 g of lentil or 120 g of wheat germ. Other legumes, fully ground cereals, egg yolks and certain cheeses are also very good zinc sources.

   Zinc deficiency slows down various metabolism process, such as healing of injuries, blood formation, immune processes and insulin production. Also a lot of nerve function depends on the supply of zinc. Zinc deficiency occurs quite often during pregnancy or the period of intense growing, and also during the period of intake of less food - such as a diet - and playing production oriented sports.

   As opposed to iron, the organism can't store zinc; this vital trace element keeps excreting by the bile. So we have to take it in again and again.

   Zinc pills are often used to cure acne, herpes, certain spots, and the latest studies assert that zinc pills help to get over the flu faster.

    Regarding the intake of trace elements you would be well advised to consult a doctor or a pharmacist because the exaggerated intake of a trace element or an other could have a bad effect on the absorption of another.

   Regarding trace elements and our health, the proper nutrition consists of: fruits, vegetables, legumens, fully ground cereales and low-fat milk products. A lot of minerals and trace elements leave when we cook or steam a vegetable. Some mineral water also contains certain trace elements.

Interactions of calcium (Ca)

   Lactose (a type of sugar found in milk), fructose (a type of natural sugar in fruit juices and honey), acidic environment and vitamin D help the absorption of calcium. Fibre (cellulose), for example, worsens its absorption. Fatty acids with Ca make soap, so this way both can't be absorbed. Too much phosphorus also worsens the absorption of calcium (the proper Ca/P rate is 2:1). Too much vitamin C (more than 1500 mg) washes out calcium from the organism. The best way to take in calcium is in form of natural products (such as milk). Let's not take in supplements containing calcium meanwhile eating.

Interactions of magnesium (Mg)

   Magnesium is a well-known antioxidant. It affects in synergy with vitamin E. Magnesium helps making use of the most of trace elements. Increased phosphate intake prevents the use of magnesium. Vitamin B helps its absorption. You would be well advised to take in calcium with magnesium as they help the absorption of each other.

Interactions of iron (Fe)

   Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), sugar and amino acids help the absorption of iron. Tea and coffee, bran, Calcium compounds, milk proteins and soya proteins disturb the absorption of iron. But it can be well absorbed from meal. Regarding iron it is advisable to take in milk with flour, and cereales with meal. In the presence of too much ascorbic acid, the copper level lessens; and the damaged iron metabolism can cause anaemia. If someone takes is iron and folic acid (vitamin B9) for a long time, it can cause zinc deficiency. (Women have to take care of this during pregnancy.) Too much zinc can cause selenium (Se) deficiency. Selen is needed for the utilization of iodine (I). The level of selenium depends on vitamin E. Vitamin E increases the absorption of vitamin A and defends the body against overdose.

   Because of this complex relation the take in of minerals is recommended from trustful origin and together with vitamins.

   Vitamins are vital organic compounds which are required in tiny amounts for the organism. These (except vitamin D) cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by the organism, so we have to get them from the food.

   Overdose of some vitamins (mainly the overdose of fat-soluble vitamins) can be as damaging as the lack of a vitamin. For example, overdose of vitamin A can cause loss of hair, dryness of skin, lack of appetite, vomit, or in more serious cases even psychical disorders or liver damage. If we keep in the proper proportion of vitamins, nothing wrong will happen.

   Some vitamins are antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against the bad effect of the oxidation processes. During the oxdiation processes in the body, certain elements can form which could damage DNA, proteins, carbohydrates and so they may cause cancer or coronary heart disease.

   Vitamin A (retinol) is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fish oil, butter, egg yolk, cream are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency can cause eye disorders.

   Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble prohormones. Two major forms of it are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and it is also needed for bone growth. Milk, cream, cod-liver oil are rich in vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 can be found in mushroom and yeast.

   Vitamin E is the most important fat-soluble antioxidant. It protects cell membranes from oxidation. Vegetable oils, almonds, nuts, avocado, seeds, spinach are rich in vitamin E. Overdose can cause diarrhoea, vomit, swelling.

   Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a water-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in cell metabolism. It can be found in grain, yeast, nuts. Vitamin B1 deficiency causes beriberi (disease of the nervous system, emotional disturbances) or - in case of heavy deficiency - heart failure. If there is too less in the organism it can also cause nightmares. If you do a lot of mental work, you would be well advised to take in some vitamin B1.

   Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)  is a water-soluble vitamin and the lack of it can cause defects of the mucous membrane. Seeds, vegetables, cheese, egg, yeast are rich in vitamin B2.

   Vitamin B3 (niacin, niacinamide) is a water-soluble vitamin and plays an important role in the energy producing processes of the organism. Vitamin B3 deficiency causes pellagra (problems with the skin and the central nervous system). It can be found in meals and vegetables..

 Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin, which is vital for the metabolism and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Small quantities of pantothenic acid are found in nearly every food. Its name refers to this as it is derived from the Greek pantothen, which means "from everywhere". Whole-grain cereals, legumes, eggs and  meat are rich in vitamin B5.

    Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps the body in the balancing of sodium and potassium and also in promoting red blood cell production. Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause sores in the mouth, anaemia, nerve damage, seizures and skin problems. In 30% of chronic alcoholics lack of vitamin B6 can be showed. Vitamin B6 can be found in meals, liver, soya bean, grains and vegetables. During the boiling (cooking) the food losses from its vitamin B6 content. Overdose can cause poor coordination, tiredness, staggering, decreased sensation to touch, temperature, and vibration

   Vitamin B7 (biotin) is a water-soluble vitamin and it can be found in meals and egg yolks.  It helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level and it assists in various metabolic reactions and also helps to transfer carbon dioxide. Lack of vitamin B7 can only occur in special cases such as under artificial fed.

    Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) can be found in every food which stems from animals. Lack of vitamin B12 can cause memory loss and other cognitive deficits. It is most likely to occur among elderly people. It can also cause symptoms of mania and psychosis.

   Inositol is not considered a vitamin itself because it can be synthesised by the body, but it is part of the vitamin B complex. It can be found in many foods, in particular, in cereals with high bran content, beans, nuts and fruits (especially cantaloupe melons and oranges).

  Choline is an organic compound, a water-soluble essential nutrient which is usually grouped within the vitamin B complex. The organism  needs it for some functions of the cell membranes. Egg yolks, soya and cooked beef, chicken, veal and turkey livers are rich in choline. The most often available choline dietary supplement is lecithin.

   Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin, an important antioxidant. There are experiments that are testing the role of antioxidants in the fight against cancer. Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy which leads to the formation of liver spots on the skin, spongy gums and bleeding from all mucous membranes.

   Vitamin C can be found in fruits (rose hips and acerola are extremely rich in it), vegetables, but meanwhile cooking it dissolves. In spring and winter fruits and vegetables contain less ascorbic acid. The body can only store a certain amount of vitamin C. Overdose of vitamin C can cause kidney stones. It is advisable to take in vitamin C with calcium or with other supplements. The best way to take in vitamins are those complex forms, where the dose of each other is determined relating to the others.

More information

   We take in most vitamins with our food. The body can produce only vitamin D, K and  biotin (or vitamin B7) from other sources. Vitamins are not energy sources as carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but they are essential to various processes of the body.

  In case of healthy nutrition lack of the fat-soluble vitamin E can't occur. However, in case of fat absorption disorder this vitamin is absorbed in minor quantity, and it affects the nerve system.


    From the desciption above you can see what the body needs and what our food needs to contain. To make it easier to change the proper products, you just need to study the information on a certain product, and later on you just take that brand. Meanwhile cooking take care of the proportion of proteins and carbohydrates. You can take in vitamins in various forms (tablets, drink mixes, crystals in capsules or naked crystals). And in you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, you don't have to bother with trace elements.

Trace elements
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Author: László Bartha
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