B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid aid in the maintenance of the nervous system and red blood cells. The B-complex vitamins found in leeks aid in the balancing of homocysteine which in turn aids in the maintenance of heart health.
Biotin (Vitamin B-7), the hair, nail and skin vitamin, is a water-soluble vitamin in the B-complex family. It promotes healthy neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and digestive functions which, in turn, leads to an increase in energy levels, balanced blood sugar levels (thereby aiding in the treatment of diabetes), healthy hair, skin and nails, reduction in acne, enhancement in neurotransmitter activity (thereby preventing memory loss and other cognitive impairments due to ageing), a decrease in the risk of heart diseases and inflammation, a reduction in bad cholesterol levels (when consumed with chromium-containing foods), proper thyroid health, and improved maintenance and proper formation of tissues and muscles.
Butylphthalide is a chemical compound found in celery which aids in the reduction of bad cholesterol in the blood. According to a study carried out by Chicago University (which was profiled by the New York Times), the amount of butylphthalide found in four stalks of celery can reduce the bad cholesterol found in the blood by up to 7%.
Calcium is one of the two minerals most responsible for bone health. Gramme for gramme, chia seeds contain more calcium than dairy products with a percentage per ounce of approximately 15% compared to 2.8%, respectively, of the recommended amount for a person consuming 2,000 calories a day.
Choline is a water-soluble macronutrient that can be compared to (and occasionally works with) the B-complex vitamins. It aids in the creation and maintenance of cell membranes by promoting the absorption of fat from foods consumed thereby supporting brain development and growth. It also supports the movement of muscles by improving nerve signaling via the activation of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Due to choline’s importance in nerve signaling and the creation and maintenance of cell membranes, it aids in preventing memory loss and lack of focus and concentration especially due to ageing as levels of acetylcholine naturally diminish as a person gets older. By supporting the absorption of fats to make cell membranes, choline prevents harmful fat build-up, such as that from triglycerol and cholesterol, in the liver. It also aids in the metabolisation of homocysteine (an amino acid formed by the body as a byproduct of methionine, which usually obtained from animal (by)products) to benign products thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases, heart attacks and strokes. Like vitamin E, choline is also essential during pregnancy in order to support the formation of the brain, nerve channels and cell structures of a foetus/foetuses.
Chromium is a mineral which is important for metabolic actions which control blood sugar levels and transport glucose to cells where it will be used for energy. This particular function of chromium has multiple benefits for the body starting with the obvious – preventing and aiding in the treatment of diabetes. This function also prevents or reduces the risk of glaucoma which is an increase of pressure in the eye due to a buildup of fluid and can result in blindness. Chromium is also known to promote the health of the arteries and aid in the metabolisation of fat thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases. It also aids in the reduction of fat accumulation in the body thereby reducing the rate at which weight (due to fat) is gained. This mineral has also been linked to a reduction in the rate at which calcium is lost therefore preventing or aiding in the treatment of osteoporosis and other bone-related disorders. Lastly, it promotes healthier hypothalamic functions (in turn improving the health of the autonomic nervous system) therefore aiding in the control of hunger, fatigue, mental health and body temperature.
Copper promotes the absorption and utilisation of iron from food and encourages red blood cell formation thereby maintaining a healthy red blood cell count and preventing or aiding in the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia by aiding in the oxygenation of the various organs in the body. In addition to this, copper promotes the health and protection of the body’s connective tissues and myelin sheath. Copper prevents premature ageing by supporting the production of collagen and elastin in connective tissues in order to maintain the flexibility of the skin and, in turn, prevent wrinkles and bags.
Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B-12) is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that is responsible for the health of red blood cells, nervous system, digestive system and cardiovascular system as well as other systems and cells in the body. Cyanocobalamin, aids in the formation of the myelin sheath which is a fatty substance that forms a protective layer over the nerves thereby supporting proper nerve signalling which, in turn, reduces the risk of memory loss and difficulties in concentrating and aids in muscle movements. As cyanocobalamin maintains the health of red blood cells, it also promotes the transportation of oxygen around the body, therefore, preventing vitamin-deficiency anaemia and symptoms of anaemia such as a decrease in energy levels, chronic fatigue and headaches. Lastly, it aids in keeping hormones balanced thereby promoting proper metabolic function, hair and skin health and preventing symptoms of PMS. It is popularly believed that the only source of this vitamin is meat. However, although you can obtain it from meat, cyanocobalamin is actually naturally occurring in soil (which is where grass and crop-fed animals initially obtained it). Due to modern practices resulting in a depletion in the cyanocobalamin contents of the soil, animals are now injected with this vitamin prior to being killed for food. It should be noted that animal products and byproduct are, in fact, not the only sources of cyanocobalamin nowadays. It can be found naturally occurring in edible marine algae such as seaweed and in cereals, plant milks (such as almond, soy, hemp, cashew and coconut milk) and in nutritional yeasts which have been “fortified with B12”.
Ergocalciferol (vitamin D-2) is a fat-soluble vitamin which the body produces by exposure to sunlight, but can also my obtained from food when there is an inadequate amount of sunlight available. Vitamin regulates the absorption of the bone minerals, calcium and phosphate, thereby preventing or treating osteoporosis, osteomalacia, rickets, familial hypophosphatemia and Fanconi syndrome. It is also believed to support the immune system and muscle strength and normalise glucose levels in the blood. Ergocalciferol can be found in tofu, mushrooms and fortified plant milks and cereals.
Fibre, such as calcium pectate, which is found in carrots, may lower blood cholesterol and reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood. Also, fibre, alongside liquids, such as water, aid in the regulation of bowel movements.
Flavonoids such as kaempferol, anthocyanins, dihydroflaonols and isorhamnetin found in leeks and onions, have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, they enhance heart health, support neurological health and improve insulin resistance thereby protecting against diabetes and lowering blood glucose levels for diabetics.
Flavonoids such as luteolin and triterpenoids found in celery and apples, respectively, have remarkable anti-cancer properties especially when it comes to the prevention and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in the pancreas, liver, breasts and colon.
Iron aids in the metabolisation of proteins and production of haemoglobin and myoglobin which carry oxygen through the body aiding in both muscle function and brain health. It also prevents, and is essential in the treatment of, iron-deficiency anaemia thereby decreasing levels of fatigue and weakness and reducing the intensity and frequency of headaches.
Linoleic acid see Omega Fatty Acids
Lutein and zeaxanthin, popularly known for their vision-boosting properties, are antioxidants from the carotenoid family. These antioxidants reduce the risk of blindness by protecting the eyes from short-wavelength UV light and preventing the formation of cataracts. They also prevent skin damage and skin cancer by reducing oxidative stress through protecting the skin from high-energy wavelengths of light. Lastly, some studies have shown that a combination of lutein and omega-3 fatty acids (especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) aids in preventing, controlling diabetes and biochemical changes caused by diabetes
Lycopene is the carotenoid which gives tomato its red colour. It has various health benefits which include the protection of cells from free radicals, inhibition of growth or prevention of some cancers and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have also shown that lycopene (in conjunction with vitamin A) has a rather therapeutic effect on asthma thereby reducing symptoms that occur as a result of exercise by improving lung function. More information concerning lycopene and asthma can be found here.
Magnesium aids in soothing and calming the nervous system which helps one sleep better and feel less stressed.
Manganese, like phosphorus, aids in the absorption of calcium and works with it to build and maintain bones, the metabolisation of carbohydrates and fats and formation of tissues. It also promotes thyroid health and regulates blood sugar levels by controlling insulin secretion and synthesis thereby preventing or aiding in the treatment of diabetes. Finally, manganese aids in the increase of superoxide dismutase in the body thereby soothing or preventing sprains and inflammation and preventing or reducing the symptoms of conditions such as arthritis.
Molybdenum is a mineral usually found legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables and grains. It aids in jump-starting and catalysing four essential enzymes in the body in order to boost the antioxidant capacity of the blood, metabolise amino acids containing sulphur and medication and remove toxins from the body. It also normalises copper levels in the body, which makes it effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, fibrosis and inflammation and prevents ailments such as liver and heart damage due to certain forms of medication. Some studies show that molybdenum is an important soil component in order to inhibit the growth of nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic/cancer-producing compounds)
Omega fatty acids (omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid)) are essential acids needed for the proper function and development of organs and systems in the body especially that of the brain, heart and immune system. The health benefits of omega fatty acids are extensive. These benefits include preventing cases of high cholesterol or cholesterol buildup by lowering triglycerides and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, lowering blood pressure due to hypertension, reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, increasing levels of calcium thereby improving bone health and preventing or treating osteoporosis, preventing cognitive decline due to ageing, reducing sensitivity to UV rays thereby aiding in the treatment of photodermatitis, supports the treatment of psoriasis alongside medication, prevents blindness caused by macular degeneration, reduced symptoms of PMS such as cramps and mood swings by balancing hormones and reducing the risk of some cancers such as colon, breast and prostate cancer.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It works with calcium, the most profuse mineral, to form and maintain bone health and strength. This mineral also aids in the formation and utilisation of proteins in the body in order to promote cell and tissue growth and maintenance. It also aids in the metabolisation of fats and carbohydrates which, in turn, aids in the maintenance and efficient use of energy by the body’s organs. In conjunction with vitamin B, phosphorus aids in the normalisation of kidney function (by helping to filter out waste from the body), muscle function (thereby preventing or reducing muscle pains) and nerve function. Lastly, phosphorus balances and aids in the utilisation of other minerals and vitamins in the body.
Phytonutrients such as polyphenolic compounds, which are found in apples are powerful antioxidants which boost the body’s immunity and provide protection from damaging effects of free radicals.
Phytosterols are phytosteroids (compounds naturally occurring in plants) that are similar, in composition, to cholesterol. They aid in lowering cholesterol levels by competing for absorption in the digestive tract, therefore, leading to a reduction in the risk of heart diseases, heart attacks and strokes. Due to their high antioxidant levels, they also inhibit the production and growth of cancer cells in the body while contributing to the destruction of already existing cancer cells.
Potassium and phthalides aid in the relief from stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, et cetera. In addition to this, potassium has been found to speed up the metabolism and enhance muscle strength.
Selenium is another mineral that naturally occurs in the soil and is then transferred to crops. Selenium protects the body from free radical damage, fights inflammation and increasing blood flow and antioxidant activity within the body thereby supporting proper function of the immune system and preventing early signs of ageing due to free radical damage and preventing cardiovascular diseases. It also prevents oxidative stress and degradation, therefore, protecting essential lipids in cell membranes and defending the body against some forms of cancer (especially in the liver, colon, lungs and prostate. Selenium protects the thyroid, catalyses the production of active thyroid hormones and controls the production of reactive oxygen with the thyroid thereby preventing thyroid disorders and symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and weight gain. It also works alongside medication to reduce the symptoms experienced by chronic asthma patients. Lastly, selenium also supports proper sperm motility conception, therefore, preventing or aiding in the treatment of infertility in men. Some studies show that selenium might reduce the risk of miscarriage, however, the amount of research done on this is insufficient.
Tocopherols (vitamin E) is a natural anti-ageing vitamin which slows down the ageing process by reducing and preventing damage caused by free radicals, reducing inflammation on an within the body, improving the skin’s flexibility and strengthening capillary walls. These also make vitamin E beneficial for cancer patients as it reduces the harmful or negative effects of radiation and dialysis such as hair loss and skin problems such as dryness or peeling. It balances hormones, therefore, preventing or minimising symptoms of PMS, anxiety, and fatigue while boosting energy levels, regulating the menstrual cycle and aiding in the maintenance of a healthy weight. Lastly, vitamin E is very crucial during pregnancy as it protects fatty acids needed for the proper brain and neurologic development of a foetus.
Vitamin A, the eye vitamin, aids in the maintenance of a good level of vision and eye health. One stalk of leek (approximately 89g) contains 29%, of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A for a person on a 2,000 calorie diet while a medium-sized carrot contains 203% of the daily recommended amount. Beta-carotene, which vitamin A is derived from in carrots, is said to slow the ageing process, reduce some health issues associated with diabetes and improve lung function. It has been found that one large stalk of celery and one large apple contain 5% and 2%, respectively, of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A for a person on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin) see B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) see B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) see B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid) see B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxamine) is a more important vitamin than people realise. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin B-6 creates antibodies which support the immune system thereby protecting the body from harmful bacteria and diseases. It also is excelled at aiding the metabolisation of nutrients in the food consumed. In the same way as iron, vitamin B-6 aids in the transportation of oxygen through the body thereby reducing and preventing anaemia (vitamin-deficient anaemia). This, in turn, reduces PMS and the severity of cramps. Vitamin B-6 also aids in the maintenance and balance of hormones which in turn minimises or prevents emotional disorders. Lastly, vitamin B-6 helps treat skin ailments such as dandruff, acne, dry skin, psoriases, eczema and maintain the health of the skin and scalp.
Vitamin B-7 see Biotin
Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid/Folate) see B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B-12 see Cyanocobalamin
Vitamin C, the most popular vitamin, boosts the body’s immunity against diseases, promotes iron absorption increases and protects the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Vitamin K is popularly known as the vitamin which aids in reducing blood loss due to injury. Vitamin K also acts to reduce and control blood clotting and prevent internal bleeding as well as provide relief from menstrual cramps by aiding in the proper functioning of hormones. This vitamin promotes the absorption of calcium which in turn encourages the formation and maintenance of strong and healthy bones.