Introducing Selenium

An Important Mineral for Human Health

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selenium, nourish notesSelenium is an important component of the body’s antioxidant system, protecting the body against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a natural by-product of the body’s metabolism. There is now considerable evidence that selenium plays a key role in the functioning of the immune system, in thyroid hormone metabolism and oxidative reduction reactions of vitamin C. Selenium, along with vitamin E, work to reduce the free radicals that are generated through cellular processes.

The Primary Sources of Selenium

Selenium is found in seafood, meat, whole grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. The selenium concentration of plants is determined by the content and availability of the element in the soil in which they are grown. The selenium content of plant foods, therefore, varies from country to country and there are also regional variations. The amount of selenium in animal foods reflects the feeding patterns of livestock.

selenium, nourish notes

Bioavailability of Selenium

Selenium from food sources is highly bioavailable.

Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Selenium

Overt selenium deficiency is very rare. Some endemic diseases in parts of Russia and China such as Keshan and Kashin-Beck disease are related to low selenium intakes. Individuals at risk for low selenium intakes are vegans who eat foods grown in low-selenium areas. Selenium is toxic in high doses and causes loss and brittleness of hair and nails, garlic breath odor and nervous system abnormalities.

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

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

Brown Soda Bread*

brown soda bread, recipe
Photo Credit: Liz Parsons

Ingredients

1-3/4 cups (225g) whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
1-3/4 cups (225g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
3 tablespoons (50g) mixed seeds, such as sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower, or golden flax seeds (linseeds) (optional)
2 tablespoons (25g) butter, softened (optional)
1 egg
About 1 2/3 cups (375–400ml) buttermilk or soured milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and mix in the seeds (if using). Add the butter (if using), and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Make a well in the center. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk and pour most of the liquid into the flour mixture. Using one hand with your fingers outstretched like a claw, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more of the buttermilk mixture, if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky. Turn onto a floured work surface and gently bring the dough together into a round about 1 1/2 inches (4cm) thick. Cut a deep cross on top and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.

*Adapted from Rachel Allen Recipes

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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*

Ingredients

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

Method

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

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Introducing Iron

An Important Role in the Body

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Iron, essential mineral, nourish notes, FeFeeling tired? No energy? Maybe you are not getting enough iron in your diet! Iron is essential for the formation of haemoglobin in red blood cells; haemoglobin binds oxygen and transports it around the body. Iron also serves as a cofactor to enzymes in oxidation/reduction reactions (i.e., accepts or donates electrons). These reactions are vital to cells’ energy metabolism. Iron requirements fluctuate throughout the life course. Iron needs increase during menstruation, pregnancy, and periods of rapid growth such as early childhood and adolescence.

The Primary Sources of Iron

Iron can be found in red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, legumes, grains, and dried fruits.

Iron, nourish notes, primary sources, meat, mineral

Bioavailability of Iron

Iron is carefully regulated by the body and absorption rates vary by the size of a person’s iron stores. The more iron-deficient a person is, the better the absorption rates. Conversely, in healthy individuals iron absorption shuts down when iron stores have been maximized. Many factors affect the absorption of iron. Heme iron from animal-source foods is absorbed, on average, twice as well as inorganic iron (from plant sources). The absorption rates for inorganic iron are also influenced by the meal composition and the solubility of the iron form.

Factors that enhance absorption of inorganic iron are vitamin C and animal protein. Factors that inhibit inorganic iron absorption include phytates (found in grains), polyphenols (found in teas and red wine), vegetable protein, and calcium (which also affects the absorption of heme iron). Food processing techniques to reduce the phytate content of plant-based foods, such as thermal processing, milling, soaking, fermentation, and germination, improve the bioavailability of inorganic iron from these foods.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Iron

A lack of dietary iron depletes iron stores in the liver, spleen and bone marrow. Severe depletion or exhaustion of iron stores can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Certain life-stages require greater iron intake and if these are not met, the risk for iron deficiency is increased. For example, pregnancy demands additional iron to support the added blood volume, growth of the fetus and blood loss during childbirth. Infants and young children need extra iron to support their rapid growth and brain development. Because breast milk is low in iron, infants exclusively fed breastmilk may also be at risk for iron deficiency. Similarly, the rapid growth of adolescence also demands extra iron.

Due to iron’s role in energy metabolism, depletion of body iron stores may result in reductions of the available energy in the cell. The physical signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, headaches, apathy, susceptibility to infections, and poor resistance to cold temperatures.

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

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

Fillet Steak with Peppercorn Sauce*

Steak, Jamie Oliver, recipe, nourish notes

Ingredients 

175 g fillet steak , ideally 3-4cm thick
olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Peppercorn Sauce (enough sauce for 2 steaks)
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
40 ml brandy
125 ml dry white wine
100 ml concentrated organic beef stock
30 ml double cream
1 teaspoon unsalted butter

Method

Place a medium frying pan over a high heat to warm-up. Season the steak with sea salt and drizzle with a little oil, then rub all over. Place the steak into the hot pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare, searing it on its edges for an even crust. If you prefer your steak medium (5 to 6 minutes) or well done (8 to 10 minutes), adjust the cooking time to your liking. Remove the steak to a plate, reserving the pan of juices. Top the steak with the butter, cover with tin foil, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar, then sieve and remove the powder, leaving the chunker bits to cook with. Add the chunky white peppercorns to the pan of meat juices and cook over a low heat for 30 seconds. Pour in the brandy to deglaze the pan, then carefully tilt the pan to catch the flame (or light with a match) and let it flambé for 30 seconds – stand back! When the flames subside, add the wine, turn the heat up to high and reduce by half, then add the beef stock and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, or until thick and delicious. Turn off the heat, stir in the cream, add the butter and any resting juices, and stir to combine. Serve the steak with a drizzle of peppercorn sauce.

*Adapted from Jamie Oliver recipes

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Introducing Zinc

Playing Key Roles in Human Body Function

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ZincThat cut on your finger not healing? Maybe you are not getting enough zinc? Zinc plays a vital role in wound healing as it is required for the functioning of the immune system and in the structure and function of the skin. Almost all cells in our body contain zinc and it is a vital nutrient for growth and development. The highest concentrations are found in muscle and bone. The body tightly regulates zinc levels. For example, stress and infections cause plasma zinc levels to fall. 

Zinc has a key role as a catalyst in a wide range of reactions and is, in fact, a catalyst for about 100 enzymes. It is important in the structure of cell transport proteins such as vitamins A and D. Zinc regulates gene expression; stabilizes cell membranes, helping to strengthen their defense against oxidative stress; participates in the synthesis, storage, and release of insulin; interacts with platelets in blood clotting; and influences thyroid hormone function. It is necessary for visual pigments; normal taste perception; sperm production; fetal development; and behavior and learning performance.

The Primary Sources of Zinc

Zinc can be found in meats, a selection of  shellfish, legumes, mushrooms whole grains, and some fortified cereals.

Zinc Sources

Bioavailability of Zinc

Like iron, zinc absorption will depend on the zinc body pool, with those having poorer zinc status able to absorb zinc more efficiently in the gut. Foods rich in phytate lead to previously absorbed zinc being lost in the feces. High intakes of calcium, phosphorus, or iron also decrease the absorption of zinc. Protein may enhance absorption of zinc.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Zinc

Individuals consuming unprocessed or minimally processed diets consisting of unrefined whole grains or unleavened whole bread and little animal-source foods are at greater risk for zinc deficiency. Zinc needs are higher in periods of growth and development, such as infancy, childhood, pregnancy and lactation. Zinc deficiency can occur even with only modest restrictions to zinc intake. Impaired growth velocity is the main clinical feature of zinc deficiency. Immune system functions and pregnancy outcomes improve with zinc supplementation. For example, zinc is often given as an adjunct therapy for diarrhea.

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

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

Beef stroganoff with herby pasta*

Ingredients

Beef Stroganoff4 tbsp olive oil
500 g mushrooms, sliced
1.5 kg stewing beef, cut into 3cm cubes
350 ml beef stock
3 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150 ml dry white wine
100 ml brandy
300 ml double cream

For the beurre manié
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp plain flour

Method

Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 3. Then, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole and lightly fry the mushrooms in batches in the olive oil until golden brown. Tip onto a plate and set aside. Brown the meat in the same pan in small batches, adding more oil as necessary and removing each batch from the pan. Now fry the onions until softened and lightly coloured, adding the garlic towards the end and using a little more oil, if necessary. Next, pour 150ml of the stock into the pan and bring to the boil, stirring to deglaze. Return the mushrooms and meat to the pan, then pour in the wine, brandy and remaining stock. Add seasoning to taste, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover with the lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is tender. Make the beurre manié by putting the butter and flour onto a plate and mixing to a paste. Set aside. When the meat is cooked, carefully strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan. Keep the meat and mushrooms warm in the covered casserole. Pour the cream into the cooking liquid and boil, uncovered, for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly and has a good flavour. Adjust the seasoning to taste, if necessary. With the liquid still boiling, add the beurre manié 1 teaspoon at a time and whisk vigorously until the sauce thickens slightly. Now pour the sauce over the meat and mushrooms and stir gently to mix. Keep the stroganoff warm until you are ready to serve. 

*Adapted from the BCC Good Food website. 

 

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Introducing Copper

A Necessary Essential Mineral

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CopperAfter iron and zinc, copper is the most abundant dietary trace mineral. It is a component of many enzymes and is needed to produce red and white blood cells. Copper-dependent enzymes transport iron and load it into hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen through the blood.

Copper-dependent enzymes also provide a natural defense against free radicals that damage the body; manufacture collagen (required by skin and bone); inactivate histamine, which is responsible for allergic reactions; and degrade dopamine into a neurotransmitter so cells can “talk” to each other. Copper is also thought to be important for infant growth, brain development, the immune system and for strong bones. 

The Primary Sources of Copper 

Copper is often found in seafood, nuts, whole grains, seeds and legumes, as well as organ meats (offal). 

Copper Sources

Bioavailability of Copper  

Copper absorption depends on copper intake; absorption rates are approximately 50% when intakes <1 mg/day (which is approximately the recommended intake for adult males). High iron intake may lower the absorption of copper.  

Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Copper  

Copper deficiency in healthy humans is very rare. However, those at risk for copper deficiency are individuals with a rare genetic disorder, Menke’s disease, and children who are malnourished, those with prolonged diarrhea, or who are fed only cow’s milk. Because copper is needed to transport iron, clinical signs of copper deficiency include anemia. Other clinical signs are osteoporosis and other abnormalities of bone development, loss of pigmentation, neurological symptoms, and impaired growth. Excessive intakes of copper from foods are unlikely. 

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

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

Crunchy Nutty Granola* 

Ingredients

125g butter Crunchy Nutty Granola
150ml honey 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
500g oat flakes 
100g flaked almonds 
100g chopped cashew nuts 
100g desiccated coconut 
100g pumpkin seeds 
100g sunflower seeds 
200-300g mixed dried fruit, such as chopped pitted dates, figs, apricots, raisins, sultanas 
 
Method 
Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Place the butter, honey and vanilla in a small pan, and put over a gentle heat to melt together. Next, mix the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit, in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter mixture and mix well. Spread out in a large roasting tray and bake for 25 minutes, or until the nuts and grains are a pale golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes so it browns evenly. Then remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool, stirring the mixture in the tray occasionally. (If you transfer it to a bowl while it’s still warm, it will go soggy.) When it has cooled down, add the dried fruit, stir, and put into an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to a month.  

*adapted from Rachel Allen Recipes 

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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

Method

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*

Ingredients

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

Method

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 

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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.

Choline

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*

Ingredients

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

Method

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

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Introducing Vitamin B7

What are the Benefits of this Water-soluable Vitamin?

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Look at the ingredients in cosmetic products and you may be surprised to see that vitamin B7 or biotin is a key component! Thanks to vitamin B7’s role in a multitude of cellular reactions, particularly interactions keeping your hair, finger nails, and skin healthy, it is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. Vitamin B7 is involved in metabolism as a coenzyme that transfers carbon dioxide, an important step in breaking down food including carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. This role is critical.

The Primary Sources of Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7 can be found in: vegetables; cereals; nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts; yeast; and soybeans. It is also sourced from animal products such as eggs, milk, liver, and kidney or synthesized by intestinal bacteria.

Bioavailability of Vitamin B7

In foods, biotin is found as the free form or bound to dietary proteins. The bioavailability of biotin depends on the ability of protein enzymes in the stomach to convert protein-bound biotin to free biotin. Biotin is not sensitive to light, heat, or humidity.

Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Vitamin B7

Experts have yet to quantify the amount of biotin in natural foods. Deficiency due to lack of dietary intake is rare in healthy populations. Symptoms of deficiency include general fatigue, nausea, neurological problems, poor skin, and hair quality. No adverse effects have been reported with excessive intakes of biotin.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here. Here is a delicious way to incorporate biotin into your diet – enjoy!

Banana and Walnut Loaf*

Ingredients

100g softened butter plus a little extra for greasing
140g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 very ripe bananas
85g chopped walnuts
50ml milk

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan) and 160C (gas). Grease a 2lb loaf tin with some butter and line the base with baking parchment, and then grease this as well.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, and egg together and then slowly mix in flour and baking powder. Peel, then mash the bananas. Now mix everything together, including the nuts. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack before removing from the loaf tin. The loaf can now be wrapped tightly in cling film and kept for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost and warm through before serving. Serve in thick slices topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a little chocolate sauce for a dessert.

*Adapted from BBC food Online
 

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