In the cartoon Pop-Eye the Sailor, Pop Eye is famous for eating all his spinach. Spinach is an excellent source of both calcium and iron. However, it turns out Pop Eye may be getting his strength from other sources. The combination of certain foods and nutrients can greatly impact our body’s ability to receive the benefits of these nutrition powerhouses.
Vitamin D is an increasing thing. You can actually get all the vitamin D you need from the sun. It gets absorbed through the skin, converted in the liver, and then the kidneys into the active form of vitamin D your body needs. On average, it only takes about 15 minutes of unobstructed skin and sunlight exposure to meet your daily vitamin D needs. However, dermatologists stress that this is too much sun exposure given the possible damage to the skin and risk of skin cancer. Another way to get vitamin D is through calcium sources that are enriched with vitamin D. Many sources of dairy are fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D also in fact helps you bring in more calcium. Consuming active vitamin D with your calcium helps the intestines more readily absorb the calcium. It’s a win-win situation right there!
Feeling sick? Most of us immediately reach for extra vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the immune system. It helps repair the body in numerous ways. Another purpose of vitamin C is to aid in iron absorption. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this is particularly true for non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plants versus animal products. Consuming iron-rich planted foods such as kale or black beans along with vitamin C-rich foods such as lemon increases the bioavailability of iron in your body tremendously.
Turmeric is a spice that ancient cultures have been using in medical practices for centuries. There are many claims of turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The concern is over its limited bioavailability. A recently published research study looked at ways to improve the absorption of medical-grade turmeric. For us at home, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-and-black-pepper it has been shown the consuming turmeric with a bit of piperine increases the absorption of turmeric by as much as 2000%! Even better news, piperine is black pepper! Daily Crunch Snack’s Golden Goodness includes this essential pinch of pepper so you can feel good knowing you are getting maximum turmeric absorption.
Over the last couple of decades, we have learned more and more about antioxidants. Antioxidants have been found to be instrumental in helping fight and ward off cancer. Lycopene has been suggested to help prevent prostate cancer. Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene. However as often comes up on these blogs in the importance of bioavailability. Lycopene is actually more easily absorbed when the tomatoes have been cooked become to when they are raw. Sometimes cooking or processing decreases nutrient content and availability but in the case of lycopene and tomatoes, it actually aids in the process. Studies have shown they olive oil may further enhance lycopene absorption from tomatoes. So if you are trying to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, grandma’s famous pasta sauce or summertime roasted heirloom tomatoes are a good way to go.
Iron and calcium are both essential minerals. Iron is great for growth and development and helps our blood transport oxygen throughout our bodies. Calcium is not only critical for bone strength but also plays an important role in muscle movement, heart, and nerve function. However, calcium and iron don’t get along well when consumed together. Iron and calcium are absorbed in the body via the same chemical pathway. This means that if you consume them together, they are competing for absorption. This decreases the bioavailability of both of them.
As aforementioned, if you are trying to increase your iron stores, take it with a vitamin C source such as a portion of citrus food. However, stay away from dairy or any calcium source at the same meal or snack as your iron source.
Calcium requirements are recommended by age and gender. For women, it is especially important to meet your calcium requirements before you age out of adolescence (usually around 25 years old). After your mid-twenties, as a female, your body will no long deposit calcium into your bones. So if you under-consume calcium one day but over-consume the next, you are still at a net loss. Any day you under-consume, your body removes calcium from your bones.
What’s tricky however is that you can’t just take a massive calcium pill or eat a highly calcium-rich breakfast and think you are set. Calcium is only absorbed in about 500 mg at a time maximum but daily requirements can be up to 1500 mg. This means you need to divide your portions of calcium-rich sources up throughout the day.
It can often be hard for many women to meet their recommended calcium intake. For most women, I generally recommend a 400 mg calcium supplement in the form of calcium citrate, the most bioavailable form of calcium supplement that includes 500 IU of vitamin D.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are the four fat-soluble vitamins. This means they dissolve in fat and oils and are best absorbed by our bodies when consumed alongside fats or oils. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in our body’s fat tissue and our liver. Having adequate fat-soluble vitamin stores is great for your hair, skin, and nails. More so, deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins may increase one's risk of certain types of cancer. It is important though to use caution when taking non-prescribed fat-soluble vitamins supplements as they can reach toxicity thresholds quicker than other nutrients. Instead, consuming healthy fat sources like nuts with your carrots is a good way to max out your Vitamin A absorption. Almonds on their own pair healthy fats with vitamin E.
I love tea! All forms, herbal, sweet, black, green, all of it. Tea provides many physical and mental health benefits. Unfortunately, not everything about tea is beneficial. Black and dark-colored teas contain high levels of tannins. Tannins have been shown to block iron absorption. Herbal teas are believed to contain tannins as well but their effect on iron absorption is less known. The tannins found in darker tea may also cause you a bad stomachache if consumed on an empty stomach. If you’ve ever gotten a bad pain after drinking a glass of iced tea while waiting on your lunch to come out, you can most likely blame it on the tannins.
Phytic acid is a substance found in many plant-based foods. Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus in many plants, including beans, seeds, and nuts. While phytic acid protect the seeds and nuts prior to germination, it also hinders our bodies from absorbing much of the essential nutrients. Many refer to phytic acid as an “anti-nutrient” as it blocks the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, chromium, and manganese. Limiting your consumption of beans, seeds, and nuts can help to reduce your intake of phytic acid. However, if you are anything like the Daily Crunch team, reducing your nut consumption is a tough/near impossible task! Fortunately, Daily Crunch’s process that provides you the uniquely crunchy texture also sheds the phytic acid from the nuts. These means the micronutrients in our snacks are readily available for your tummies!
Nutrition is a complicated and tricky subject. Sometimes you just want to sit relax and enjoy your meal. Other times you are trying to be more mindful of how you nourish your body. Hopefully having these tips helps you in those moments. Regardless of which situation you are in, keep in mind that Daily Crunch Snacks does its best to take the guesswork out for you. We purposely sprout our snacks and pair our ingredients to increase nutrient absorption when possible.
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