Introducing Iodine

Are You Eating Enough Iodine-Rich Foods?

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Iodine, essential mineral, nourish notesThe body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. In addition, this mineral  is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. As an integral part of thyroid hormones it regulates body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, nerve and muscle function and more. By controlling the rate at which the cells use oxygen, these hormones influence the amount of energy released when the body is at total rest. Approximately 70 to 80% of the body’s iodine is found in the thyroid.

The Primary Sources of Iodine

Most foods have low iodine content however, iodized salt, seafood, plants grown in iodine-rich soil and animals fed those plants or feed containing iodine are good sources. Additional foods may be sources of iodine if iodized salt is used in their preparation (e.g. bread).

Iodine, nourish notes, primary sources, essentila mineral

Bioavailability of Iodine

Normally, the absorption of iodine from foods is very high (>90%). Some foods (e.g., cassava, millet, lima beans, cabbage) contain substances called goitrogens. These substances inhibit the transfer of iodine to the thyroid gland and disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. If foods containing goitrogens are consumed in large quantities, they may limit the absorption and use of iodine by the body. In general, most people can tolerate higher intakes of iodine from food and supplements.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Iodine

Iodine deficiency has adverse effects at all stages of development but is most damaging to the developing brain. In addition to regulating many aspects of growth and development, thyroid hormone is important for myelination of the nerves, which is most active before and shortly after birth. Thus during pregnancy, diets deficient in iodine may result in higher risk for mental retardation. Thyroid enlargement, or goiter, is one of the most visible signs of iodine deficiency.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate iodine into your next evening meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Garlic & Chilli Prawns*


Garlic, prawns, recipe, jamie Oliver8 large raw shell-on king prawns , from sustainable sources
3 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chilli
a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
50 ml olive oil , ideally Spanish
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 lemon


Peel the prawns, removing the heads and leaving the tails on. Run the tip of a knife down the backs of the peeled prawns and pull out and discard the dark vein. Peel the garlic and finely chop with the chilli (deseed if you like). Pick and finely chop the parsley leaves. Next, drizzle the oil into a shallow heatproof terracotta dish or a small frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30 seconds to flavour the oil, before stirring in the paprika. Add the prawns and fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through, adding most of the parsley when you turn the prawns.
Squeeze half the lemon juice into the dish, then remove from the heat and sprinkle over the remaining parsley and a pinch of sea salt.

*Adapted from Jamie Oliver Recipes



Introducing Chromium

Boosting the Metabolism

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Chromium is an essential mineral required in small amounts by the body and plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Of significance is the finding that individuals with adequate dietary chromium have improved control over blood glucose and a better blood lipid profile. Chromium helps maintain blood glucose levels by enhancing the activity of the hormone insulin. Like iron, chromium assumes different charges. Cr3+ is the most stable form and is commonly found in foods.

The Primary Sources of Chromium

Chromium is commonly found in egg yolk, whole grains, high-bran cereals, green beans, broccoli, nuts, and brewer’s yeast. A diet rich in simple sugars may actually increase urinary excretion of chromium due to enhanced insulin secretion.

Bioavailability of Chromium

The low pH of the stomach enhances chromium availability. Vitamin C enhances chromium absorption.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Chromium

Chromium deficiency in humans is very rare. Cases of chromium deficiency have been described in a few patients on long-term intravenous feeding who did not receive supplemental chromium in their intravenous solutions.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate chromium into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Eggs Florentine Pizza*

Base Ingredients
125ml milk
1 tsp golden caster sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
500g ‘00’ pasta flour or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp olive oil

Topping Ingredients
4 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
small bunch oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
80g bag baby spinach
50g parmesan (or Vegetarian alternative), grated
125g ball mozzarella, torn into pieces
4 large eggs


To begin, pour 150ml boiling water into a jug with the milk and sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and leave to stand for 10 mins or until frothy. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and 1 tsp salt, then make a well in the centre. Then, pour in the olive oil, followed by the yeast mixture. Stir well, then knead together in the bowl to form a soft dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 10 mins. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 1 hr. 

Peel the tomatoes by scoring the skins with a cross, putting them in a bowl and pouring over just-boiled water. Drain the water after 2-3 mins and the skins will peel away easily. Coarsely grate the tomatoes, then stir in the garlic and oregano. Blanch the spinach by drenching it in boiling water in a colander over the sink. Leave the spinach until it’s cool enough to handle, then squeeze out any excess moisture. 

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Divide your dough into 4 and shape each piece into a ball. Roll the bases out flat to about 25cm diameter and dimple the surfaces with your fingers. Spread each one with the tomato paste, season, then divide the cooked spinach between the 4 pizzas. Top with grated Parmesan and torn mozzarella. 

Slide the pizzas directly onto hot oven shelves or baking sheets. Bake 2 at a time for 5 mins, then nudge the toppings away from the centre slightly to create a gap in which to crack the eggs. Return the pizzas to the oven to finish cooking – they should take another 6-7 mins, depending on how you like your yolk.

*Recipe thanks to BBC Good Food

Introducing Calcium

Building Strong Bones

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We have all heard the phrase ‘those bones need calcium’ and it is essential advice for all of us! An adequate intake of calcium is one of a number of factors important for acquiring bone mass and attaining peak bone mass. Diets containing insufficient amounts of calcium may lead to lower bone mineral density, which may have implications for bone health, notably risk of osteoporosis later in life. Our bones are gaining and losing minerals continuously in an ongoing process of remodeling. Calcium forms crystals on a matrix of the protein collagen. This process is called mineralization. During mineralization, as the crystals become denser, they give strength and rigidity to the bones. Most people achieve a peak bone mass by their late 20s, and dense bones best protect against age-related bone loss and fractures.

Calcium is in fact the most abundant mineral in the body. Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium exists in the bones and teeth. It is an integral part of bone structure and calcium found in the bones also serves as a bank from which the body can withdraw calcium to compensate for low intakes. The remaining 1% of the body’s calcium is in the body fluids, where it helps regulate blood pressure and muscle movement. Calcium is important at all life stages, and most especially during periods of linear growth, infancy, childhood and puberty, as well as pregnancy and lactation. In the blood, calcium helps to maintain normal blood pressure. Calcium is also involved in the regulation of muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, secretion of hormones and activation of some enzyme reactions.

The Primary Sources of Calcium

Calcium is most commonly found in milk and milk products as well as small fish (with bones), calcium-set tofu (bean curd), legumes, spinach, Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli.

Bioavailability of Calcium

Calcium absorption by the body is enhanced by the presence of vitamin D and decreased in the presence of oxalic and phytic acid in foods. Thus, foods with high content of calcium that are also rich in oxalic acid (e.g., spinach, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans) or phytic acid (e.g., seeds, nuts, grains) will result in a lower absorption of calcium compared to foods with no inhibitors, such as milk and milk products. Diets high in sodium or phosphorus (e.g., cola beverages) also negatively affect calcium levels in the bone.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Calcium

Because calcium is critical to muscle contraction and nerve impulses, the body tightly regulates blood calcium levels. If calcium intake is low, the body will draw on calcium in the bones. Poor chronic intake in calcium results in osteomalacia, in which bones become weak owing to lack of calcium. Insufficient calcium in bones can also result from an inadequate supply of vitamin D, which is essential for absorption of calcium and its deposition in the bones. Thus, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is vital for bone integrity and for bone growth.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate calcium into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Cheese & Spinach Penne with Walnut Crumble*


500g pack penne
2 large leeks, sliced
85g butter
85g plain flour
2 tsp ready-made English mustard
good grating nutmeg
1l milk, plus a bit extra
350g pack mature cheddar, grated
4 slices French bread, diced
85g walnut piece
400g bag spinach


Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/ gas 5. Boil the pasta with the leeks for 10 mins, then drain.

Meanwhile, put the butter, flour, mustard, nutmeg and milk in a large pan with some seasoning. Gently heat, stirring all the time, until bubbling and thickened, then cook for 2 mins more, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in two-thirds of the cheese. Toss the remaining cheese with the bread and walnuts.

Cook the spinach in the microwave, or pour a kettle of boiling water over it to wilt, then squeeze out the excess water. Stir into the sauce with the pasta, leeks and some seasoning. If necessary, add a little extra milk to loosen. Divide between 2 ovenproof dishes and scatter the bread mixture on top. If eating straight away, bake for 40 mins until golden, or cool to freeze.

*Adapted from BBC Good Food 







Introducing Choline

An Essential Nutrient Overlooked

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Strictly speaking, choline is not a vitamin, but an essential nutrient that is often grouped under the B-vitamins. While many of us know about the importance of folic acid in pregnancy the value of choline is often overlooked. We now know that choline is especially important during pregnancy as it is involved in fetal brain development.

Although the body can make choline, dietary intake of choline is necessary to meet the body’s needs for this nutrient. Choline is important in many metabolic processes including those of liver, heart and brain. Its functions include fat and cholesterol metabolism, cell structure and cell integrity, cellular signaling, neurotransmission, and gene expression.

The Primary Sources of Choline

Choline can be found in many foods, mainly in milk, eggs and peanuts. It is also part of lecithin, which is used as an emulsifier in food processing.


Bioavailability of Choline

There is no information on bioavailability.

Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Choline

A varied diet should provide enough choline for most people, but strict vegetarians (who consume no milk or eggs) may be at risk of inadequate choline intake. Inadequate intake of choline can lead to liver dysfunction and muscle damage. During pregnancy choline is especially important as it is involved in fetal brain development. There is some data to suggest that maternal choline status might be related to neural tube defects. Choline biosynthesis declines in women during the menopause. Recent research has linked low choline blood levels to an increased risk of stunting (short-for-age) in children from Malawi. Choline and folate interact at the level where homocysteine is converted to methionine. If the metabolism of one of these methyl donors is disturbed, it disrupts the metabolism of choline. Excess intake of choline is rare but can result in a fishy body odor, vomiting, salivation, hypotension and liver toxicity.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate choline into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Spanish Omelette*


500g potatoes
1 onions, preferably white
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
6 eggs


Start with scraping the potatoes or leave the skins on, if you prefer. Cut them into thick slices. Chop the onion. Next, heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the potatoes and onion and stew gently, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are softened. Strain the potatoes and onions through a colander into a large bowl (set the strained oil aside). Then beat the eggs separately, then stir into the potatoes with the parsley and plenty of salt and pepper. Heat a little of the strained oil in a smaller pan. Tip everything into the pan and cook on a moderate heat, using a spatula to shape the omelette into a cushion. When almost set, invert on a plate and slide back into the pan and cook a few more minutes. Invert twice more, cooking the omelette briefly each time and pressing the edges to keep the cushion shape. Slide on to a plate and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food