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Healthy Aging- Protect Yourself Part 2

5. Protective Nutrients

In this two part series, we are focusing on the types of nutrients that we consider protective.  Last time, we covered the first three, omega 3 fatty acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. In this post, we will cover functional nutrients, fiber and clean, filtered water

What are Functional Nutrients? Functional nutrients are nutrients that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Of course, all nutrients are functional because they provide varying levels of metabolic protection and energy to sustain growth or support vital processes. However, functional nutrients are generally considered to offer additional benefits that may reduce the risk of disease or promote optimal health.

How they function?

-Zinc: an essential nutrient and has physiologic functions that are directly related to normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and immune system

-B Vitamins: associated with a decreased risk of vascular disease in patients with cardiovascular diseases

-Vitamin D: helps improve muscle strength and immune function, reduces inflammation, promotes the absorption of calcium and helps maintain adequate blood levels of the calcium and phosphate needed for bone density maintenance and repair

-Magnesium:  increases high density lipoprotein (HDL), improves blood sugar control and decreases risk of stroke

-Calcium: helps protects bone health and has been found to be a protective factor related to obesity

-Iron: required for oxygen transport, DNA synthesis

-Fiber: aids in digestion, helps prevent constipation, and can be used for the treatment of diverticulosis, diabetes, and heart disease

-Water: adequate hydration helps maintain the balance of bodily fluids, helps kidneys remove toxins and improves bowel function

Sources of Functional Nutrients:

-Zinc: oysters, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, chocolate, chicken and beans

-B Vitamins: salmon, tuna, halibut, cod, lamb, beef, poultry, shellfish, eggs, dairy products avocado, pomegranate, dates, watermelon, leafy greens, bok choy, and fortified cereal

-Vitamin D: sunshine, fish, fish oil, fortified dairy products, egg yolk, liver and mushrooms

-Magnesium: whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, yeast, avocado, broccoli, leafy greens and apples

-Calcium: low-fat dairy products, broccoli, figs, tofu, blackstrap molasses, dark leafy greens

-Iron: beef, eggs, fish, liver, yeast, fortified cereal, whole grains, nuts, beans, beets, dates

Sources of Fiber: whole grains, bran, seeds, many fruits and vegetables

Sources of clean, filtered water: Look up the National Drinking Water Database to evaluate the safety of your tap water:

Easy Ways to Functional Nutrients in your diet: Consume a varied diet consisting of many fruits, vegetables and whole grains in order to assure adequate intake of these protective, functional nutrients

Tip: The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

Liquid in soups, coffee and tea can be counted towards your daily water intake


Look up Farmer’s Markets near you:

Center for Science in the Public Interest Nutrition Action Newsletter:

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