Many people do not obtain all of the vitamins and minerals their body needs from food alone. Especially if they eat an unhealthy or inadequate diet, or they experience great amounts of stress.
In these cases, the recommendation to take a vitamin or mineral supplement can be very useful. However, the healer must know the action each has on the body and how much is required in terms of normal usage because overdose of vitamins can cause adverse effects.
To that end, it is important to stress that taking particular vitamins daily on a permanent basis is actually detrimental to the body. This is not only because the body can become overdosed on a certain vitamin (depending on dosage) but also because the body becomes dependant on the supplement, and ceases to extract or produce the vitamin or mineral itself.
Eating a well-balanced diet is essential to maintaining the body’s adequate vitamin and mineral levels. You may often find yourself in the position of nutritionist and having to advise people on what they should be eating, so this is important to know as well as for your own, and your family’s health.
A balanced diet consists of foods rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and some fats. An example of a balanced diet is the following:
Spinach, broccoli, red and green peppers, potatoes, kumera, parsley, dill, grapes, bananas, apples, oranges, raisins, cheese, brown rice, red kidney beans, lima beans, soya beans, lentils, almonds, hazelnuts, whole wheat bread.
You can add or supplement other types of protein like; milk, fish, tofu, red meat or chicken. Fish and chicken have a better absorption rate in terms of the body’s ability to extract vitamins and minerals. Lean meats are best because you can end up with too much ‘bad’ cholesterol which clogs the arteries.
Other nuts and seeds that are highly nutritious are: pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts (in moderation), cashew nuts (higher in fat).
I make a tasty snack with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a few cubes of firm tofu soaked in Tamari (highly refined soy sauce) and a little lemon juice and toasted under the grill. It’s highly addictive!.
Avocado is also highly nutritious, but it needs to be eaten in moderation because it is quite high in fat. I like to have it on toast on top of spread Tahini (sesame spread) with a little lemon squeezed on, or maybe some beetroot chutney.
The general rule of thumb in terms of how much of anything you eat is just to do everything in moderation; i.e. not eating the same things every day or every other day, but varying as much as you can. Keep portions to about the size of your closed fist on the plate. If you snack on dried fruit and nuts during the day, not only does this help to maintain your energy levels, but it also stops you craving things that are not so good for you.
Drinking lots of water is always necessary. It helps to hydrate the body and keep all organs functioning as they should (including the brain) and flushes out any toxins. When you are healing you may find you get thirstier and need more water because your body utilizes it as a conductor for energy, so a lot of the fluid will ‘burn’ away when you are working.
Another invaluable supplement which I recommend to many people is Spirulina. This comes from an algae which has very high chlorophyll levels (the element that makes the plant green) which is synthesized by sunlight. Use of spirulina in smoothies or sprinkled on food or in sauces helps to energize and balance the body. The body uses the chlorophyll as food and the energy of the sunlight from the plant also helps to energize.
Many kelp-based products are also excellent. Edible kelp is very high in essential vitamins and minerals, and also helps the body to neutralize free radicals (toxins). Products like sushi, and adding dried kelp flakes into sauces, hot pots and soups is excellent. It also gives food a nice sea-salt flavour.
Note that use of vitamin and mineral supplements can have beneficial effects over varying time periods, depending on whether you are treating a chronic (long term) deficiency, or just a temporary reduction. On an average, improvements usually take place within one week.
Here are the basics of Vitamin and Mineral properties:
Vitamin A: Comes in the form of retinol in animal products like liver, eggs, butter, and cod liver oil, and beta-carotene, which our body converts into vitamin A when we need more. Halibut or fish oil capsules are a good source of Vitamin A.
Functions: Anticarcinogenic (helps prevent cancer), prevents aging of skin, improves vision and prevents night blindness, improves body’s ability to heal, promotes growth of strong bones, hair, teeth, skin, gums, may help in the treatment of hyperthyroidism.
Vitamin B1: Thiamin is involved in all metabolic processes in the nervous system, heart, blood cells, and muscles. Brown rice is an excellent source of B1.
Funtions: Protects against imbalances caused by alcoholic consumption, may help in the treatment of neurological disease, may help to prevent anaemia, may improve mental agility.
Vitamin B2: Riboflavin is a water-soluble member of the B-complex family of vitamins. Hard cheese is a rich source of riboflavins.
Functions: Helps to metabolize fats, protein and carbohydrates, aids vision, promotes healthy reproductive function, boosts athletic performance, protects against anaemia.
Vitamin B3: Niacin is one of the water-soluble B-complex vitamins, and it is essential for the synthesis of sex hormones and a healthy nervous system. Avocados are rich in B3, as well as many other vitamins.
Functions: Prevents and treats schizophrenia, aids in cell respiration, produces energy from sugar, fat and protein, maintains healthy skin, nerves, tongue, and digestion. May lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease, reduces high blood pressure.
Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble member of the B-complex of vitamins which helps to maintain normal growth and the health of the nervous system. Molasses is rich in vitamin B5.
Functions: Encourages healing of wounds, encourages the immune system, prevents fatigue, lowers cholesterol levels and protects against heart disease, prevents and treats arthritis.
Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin which is necessary for the production of antibodies and white blood cells. Cabbage is a good source of B6.
Functions: Boosts immunity, helps to control diabetes, assimilates proteins and fats, treats symptoms of PMS and menopause. Reduces muscle cramps and spasms, acts as a natural diuretic, protects against cancer.
Vitamin B12: Cobalamin is a water-soluble member of the B-complex vitamin family, and it is the only vitamin that contains essential minerals. Liver is a good source of B12.
Functions: Necessary for maintenance of the nervous system. Improves memory and concentration, required to utilize fats, carbohydrates and proteins, may protect against cancer, protects against allergens and toxic elements.
Folic Acid: Water soluble part of the B-complex. Is also known as vitamin Bc. Found in many varieties of legumes.
Functions: Improves lactation, natural analgesic, increases appetite, builds up resistance to infection in infants, essential for genetic code transmission, prevents spina bifida.
Vitamin C: Rosehips, Blackcurrants, broccoli, citrus fruits and all fresh fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is water soluble so any excess is excreted in the urine. This means it will only last for 24 hours in the body. Vitamin C is needed as a carrier for Iron in the blood and must be taken in conjunction with Ferrum (iron) if there is an iron deficiency.
Functions: Antioxidant, speeds up healing of wounds, maintains healthy bones, teeth and sex organs, acts as a natural antihistamine, may help to overcome male infertility, reduces the duration of colds and other viruses.
Vitamin D: Is a fat soluble vitamin which is found in foods of animal origin. It is known as the sunshine vitamin. Found in mackerel and all oily fish.
Functions: Protects against osteoporosis, may help in the treatment of psoriasis, boosts the immune system, may be useful in the treatment of cancer, necessary for strong teeth and bones.
Vitamin E: Also known as tocopherol. Fat-soluble and one of the key antioxidant vitamins. Fresh wheatgerm and wheatgerm oil are rich sources of Vitamin E, but are of little value if the oil is rancid.
Functions: Antioxidant, protects against neurological disorders, protects against cardiovascular disease, reduces symptoms of PMS, treats skin problems, aids in the prevention of miscarriage.
Biotin: Not a true vitamin, but it works with B-complex vitamins and is often called vitamin H, or co-enzyme R. Brewer’s yeast and egg yolks are rich in biotin, which may help to prevent Eczema. Other sources are nuts, fruits, beef, liver, milk, kidneys, unpolished rice.
Functions: Prevents hair from graying, eases muscular aches and pains, treats eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions. Helps to prevent baldness.
Calcium: Works to create healthy bones and teeth. Promotes a healthy nervous system. Food sources include dairy, leafy green vegetables, salmon, canned sardines, and tofu.
Functions: Treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Prevents cancer. Helps to prevent heart disease. Treats arthritis. Keeps skin healthy. Eases leg cramps. Encourages heartbeat. Helps the body to metabolize iron.
Chromium: Important regulator of blood sugar. Whole wheat bread contains chromium.
Functions: aids in the control and production of insulin. Aids metabolism. Controls blood cholesterol levels, stimulates the synthesis of proteins. Increases resistance to infection.
Copper: Trace mineral needed for the act of respiration. Sources are; most shellfish, nuts, fruit, oysters, kidneys, and legumes.
Functions: May help to prevent cancer. Boosts the immune system. Acts as an antioxidant.
Iron: Essential for human health. Sources include; shellfish, brewer’s yeast, wheatbran, offal, cocoa powder, dried fruits and cereals, parsley, spinach, leafy green vegetables.
Functions: Improves physical performance. Anticarcinogenic. Prevents learning problems in children. Boosts energy levels.
Potassium: One of the most important minerals in the body, working with sodium and chloride and other important substances to form ‘electrolytes’, or the essential electrically-charged ions which make up our body fluids. Bananas and raisins are good sources of potassium. Sweating, chronic diarrhea and diuretics cause loss of potassium.
Functions: Maintains water balance within cells. Stabilizes internal structure of cells. Helps to conduct nerve impulses. May protect against strokes. Improves athletic performance. May help treat and prevent cancer.
Magnesium: A mineral which is absolutely essential for every biochemical process in our bodies, including metabolism and the synthesis of nucleic acids and protein. Sources include; brown rice, brewer’s yeast, wholewheat flour, and legumes.
Functions: Helps to prevent kidney and gallstones. Useful in treatment of high blood pressure. Useful in treatment of prostrate problems. Repairs and maintains body cells required for hormonal activity.
Manganese: An essential trace element which is necessary for the normal functioning of the brain, and is effective in the treatment of many nervous disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Sources include cereals, tea, green leaf vegetables, wholewheat bread, legumes and nuts.
Functions: Necessary for normal bone structure. Important in the formation of thyroxin. Necessary for reproduction. Necessary for glucose metabolism.
Phosphorus: A mineral which is essential to the structure and function of the body. Appears in many foods – in particular, yeast products, wheatgerm, hard cheeses, canned fish, nuts, cereals, milk and eggs. Excess quantities will throw off mineral balance and decrease calcium levels.
Functions: Forms bones and teeth. Burns sugar for energy. Acts as a co-factor for many enzymes and activates B-complex vitamins. Forms RNA and DNA.
Selenium: An essential trace element. Kidneys provide the richest source of dietary selenium. Sources also include; wheatgerm, bran, tuna fish, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, and wholewheat bread.
Functions: Prevents many cancers. Maintains healthy eyes and eyesight. Maintains healthy skin and hair. Protects against heart and circulatory diseases. Can detoxify alcohol, many drugs, smoke, and some fats. Increases male potency and sex drive.
Zinc: One of the most important trace elements in our diet. It is required for more than 200 enzyme activities within the body. Found in offal, meat, mushrooms, oysters, eggs, whole grain products, and brewer’s yeast.
Functions: Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Prevents degenerative effects of aging. Prevents blindness associated with aging. Increases male potency and sex drive. Treats and prevents infertility. Maintains senses of taste, smell and vision. Prevents hair loss. Treats acne and other skin problems.