Annie and LJ exited the grand entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum, still buzzing from the captivating lecture on the latest research in food science they had just attended. The museum, nestled in the heart of South Kensington in London, showcased human creativity from centuries past. As they stepped onto the cobblestone courtyard, warm sunlight bathed the museum’s ornate facade – massive stone arches framed the entrance, adorned with intricate carvings that seemed to tell forgotten tales of ancient empires and artistic revolutions. They were drawn to the museum’s garden, a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city. Seated on a bench surrounded by blooming flowers and ancient sculptures, the scent of roses mixed with the distant hum of traffic, creating a peaceful blend of past and present.

“LJ, that was an eye-opener! I’m particularly happy to learn more about the long-term benefits of eating clean, mainly whole food.”

“Yeah, learning the newest insight in food science and how the right nutrients can impact our well-being is game-changing. We’ve always focused on a healthy lifestyle, but this takes it to a new level.”

“Annie opened her water bottle and sipped, “Did you catch the part about vitamin and mineral deficiencies? It’s a crucial topic that we should all be aware of. I was surprised to learn that we might still fall short despite our balanced diet.”

“I’m slightly frustrated because I thought we were doing so well. So, what did you hear? What are the top deficiencies we need to watch out for?”

“I know,” Annie sighed. “Well, according to the speaker, the big six are vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.”

“So, how do we address those deficiencies?”

“There are several ways, but she focused on incorporating plant-based sources.

For vitamin D, it’s as simple as getting some sunlight. For optimal vitamin D absorption, spending time in the sun around midday is recommended, particularly during summer. Around noon, the sun’s UVB rays are at their strongest since they are at their highest point in the sky. Experts suggest that exposing your legs for 10-30 minutes three times a week during this time should be adequate for individuals with lighter skin. If you have darker skin, you might need to stay outside for a little longer to achieve the same results.  Vitamin D supports bone health, mood, and immunity. Fatty fish and fortified foods help, too. The plant-based options include mushrooms and fortified plant milk.

“Next, she spoke about Vitamin B12 and said getting adequate amounts is tricky but crucial for nerve function and red blood cell formation. It’s almost exclusively found in animal-sourced foods – fish, meat, dairy, and eggs. For us, plant-loving foodies, nutritional yeast, nori seaweed, and shitake mushrooms are sources. Other options include fortified plant-based milk and fortified cereals, meat alternatives, and supplements.”

“She talked about iron, which makes me think of my grandmother’s iron skillet. She cooked amazing meals in that one pan,” said LJ, smiling at the memory. “Learning it’s essential for red blood cells because iron binds with hemoglobin and transports oxygen to our cells. Heme iron (from animal foods) is well absorbed, but non-heme iron (from plants) requires deliberate intention. Chickpeas, spinach, lentils, and pumpkin seeds are great sources. Vitamin C helps iron absorption, so squeezing lemon juice on spinach is a great way to maximize iron’s benefits.”

Annie got up to stretch. “What did you hear her say about Calcium?”

“Calcium for strong bones, got it.”

“LJ, she said more than that. Yes, calcium is necessary for bone health and teeth; it serves various bodily functions, including its essential role in muscle contraction for proper movement and flexibility. It is also necessary for nerve communication and cell transmission, supporting effective signaling throughout the body. Additionally, calcium assists in the formation of clots to prevent excessive bleeding and promote healing. Good sources of calcium include dark leafy greens, almonds, beans, lentils, grains, fortified cereals, and plant-based milk.”

“The new go-to for helping with sleep is magnesium,” said LJ. I was glad to hear her mention it. Magnesium plays a crucial role in energy production. It also supports muscle contraction and relaxation, enhancing physical performance. Magnesium contributes to bone health by maintaining density and strength and regulates nerve function and neurotransmitter release within the nervous system. For heart health, magnesium helps maintain a steady heartbeat and supports healthy blood pressure levels. Magnesium is also involved in protein synthesis and glucose metabolism. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens are the best sources.”

“I’ve always wondered about iodine. I read about how it was added to table salt to combat an iron deficiency in the US population in the early 1920s resulting in a high rate of goiters. Iodine is crucial for proper thyroid functioning and overall well-being. It assists in creating thyroid hormones such as T3 and T4, which play a role in regulating metabolism and hunger. Furthermore, iodine is critical for brain development and maintaining a strong immune system. Good sources include seafood, seaweed, potatoes with skin, and navy beans.”

“Annie, this mineral and vitamin deficiency lecture is timely. We need to pay attention and take action to improve our diet. Minerals and vitamins nourish our bodies and our minds.”

 

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

 

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