I should know this!

This weekend I will be meeting one of my sisters and my two nieces in Minneapolis. From there we will be driving to North Dakota to visit family for a few days. I haven’t been back to visit in at least 5 years!

We planned this trip because I will be in St. Paul for a “Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management” (that’s a mouthful) 9/8-9/10 and I decided to make it into a vacation!

In doing the readings for the seminar and tracking my intake on Cron-O-Meter I’ve realized that I should be better able to identify which foods are a good source of nutrients that most people aren’t consuming enough of. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has identified the following nutrients to be shortfall nutrients:

Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and, for adolescent and pre-menopausal women, iron.

If you would like to find out how much of these nutrients you need you can find the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) here. I love the Cron-O-Meter app because it tracks micronutrients as well as macronutrients which has shown me that I, like many Americans, am not eating enough iron, folate, vitamin E, vitamin D, and potassium! Crap!

So why are these nutrients important and what foods can we eat more of to meet our needs? I will post this info in a series of blog posts, starting with Vitamin A!

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A plays a role in

  • Regulating gene expression
  • Growth and specialization of cells in the body aka differentiation
  • The visual system and eyesight.
  • Normal function of the immune system (side note: this may be one reason that I get sick much less often since beginning a cod liver oil supplement)
  • Prenatal and postnatal development- because vitamin A is responsible for cell differentiation it plays a significant role in fetal development of heart, eyes, ears, lungs, limbs, and other visceral organs.
  • May also play a role in red blood cell production (erythropoeisis)

Nutrient interactions:

  • Zinc deficiency is thought to interfere with vitamin A metabolism is several ways but health consequences of this have yet to be determined
  • Iron deficiency and vitamin A deficiency often coexist and increase risk for iron deficiency anemia. “The combination of supplemental vitamin A and iron seems to reduce anemia more effectively than either supplemental iron or vitamin A alone”

Deficiency:

  • Occurs with inadequate vitamin A intake. Other individuals at risk include those with impaired fat absorption (vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin) such as individuals with IBD like Crohn’s disease (dz) or Celiac dz.
  • Is a major cause of preventable blindness. An early sign of deficiency is night blindness.
  • May increase risk for infection.”vitamin A deficiency can be considered a nutritionally acquired immunodeficiency disease”
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Sources

  • Yellow and orange colored vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, squash)
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collards)
  • Beef liver (I tried to stomach it a few times.  Will try again later…)
  • Cod liver oil (I like this stuff– lemon flavor though. Unflavored is nasty)
  • Fortified cereal
  • Cow’s milk
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango

Stay tuned! Next up will be Folate, because I’m doing this alphabetically and Folate is a B vitamin. Tr-tr-tr-tricky!

 

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