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Do we know a complete list of nutrients that humans must ingest to live?

Do we know a complete list of nutrients that humans must ingest to live?


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When the people who are making "nutritionally complete" foods like Soylent are developing their product, how do they know that they've covered all their bases? You need to have protein, carbohydrates, fats etc., but what about vitamins or minerals?

Has science produced a commonly accepted list of all the nutrients that humans need to live?


For babies there is certainly a formula available for a complete menu for survival: formula*

Here are the nutrition facts from Nestlé's "Good Start":


Formula nutrition facts. source: Nestlé

Comparable lists are available for people that cannot eat normally (e.g. people in a comatose state) and are fed enteral or parenteral nutrition.

*. Remember though, breast is best :)


The most complete list of essential nutrients that I have found is here, together with some scientific references and some more "conditionally essential nutrients":

http://www.nutrientsreview.com/glossary/essential-nutrients

I'll reproduce the main list here:

Water

Vitamins

Vitamin A (retinol)

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Vitamin B5 (panthotenic acid)

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxin)

Vitamin B7 (biotin)

Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate)

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin D (vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol)

Vitamin E (tocopherol)

Vitamin K (naphthoquinones)

Choline (vitamin Bp)

Minerals

Calcium

Chloride

Chromium

Copper

Iodine

Iron

Magnesium

Manganese

Molybdenum

Phosphorus

Potassium

Selenium

Sodium

Zinc

Amino acids

Isoleucine

Histidine

Leucine

Lysine

Methionine

Phenylalanine

Taurine

Tryptophan

Threonine

Valine

Fatty acids

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

Linoleic acid


The Ultimate Guide to Vitamins and Minerals

We see cartons of juice and boxes of cereal trumpeting their vitamin and mineral content, but why are these microscopic nutrients so important? From helping the body turn food into fuel, to fortifying bones and eyesight, vitamins and minerals are health superstars for sure. While the average diet usually includes adequate amounts of the essential nutrients without issue, it doesn&rsquot hurt to be a little more aware of the vitamins and minerals that keep us living and smiling. But first, let&rsquos iron out some key terms.

Getting Started

Vitamins: Organic substances required for normal cell function, growth, and development. There are 13 essential vitamins. (More on that below)

Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Fat-soluble vitamins are those that bind to fat in the stomach and are then stored in the body for later use. We are less likely to become deficient in these vitamins (A, D, E, and K), but more likely to build up to toxic levels, usually due to extreme overconsumption or overzealous supplement use. (Or maybe just an unhealthy obsession with kale chips&hellip)

Water-Soluble Vitamins: The rest of the vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they can be absorbed directly by cells. When in excess, these vitamins are flushed out of our system with each bathroom break. The water-soluble vitamins &mdash biotin, vitamin C, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and the four B complex vitamins &mdash need to be restored more frequently, but the body can tolerate higher doses.

Minerals: Minerals are inorganic substances (meaning they contain no carbon), and all hold on place on the good ol&rsquo periodic table (flashback to 6 th grade chemistry class!). They&rsquore also necessary for normal body function and development. There are two groups of minerals: macrominerals (which the body needs in large doses) and trace minerals (only a pinch required).

RDA: Recommended Dietary Allowances, or RDAs, represent the average daily dietary intake of each vitamin and mineral a person needs to stay healthy and steer clear of deficiencies. The values, which are all backed by scientific data, are broken down by age and gender.

AI: For those vitamins for which an RDA has not yet been set (usually due to lack of scientific data), an AI, or adequate intake level, is used in place.

UL: The tolerable upper intake level (UL) is the maximum amount of daily vitamin or mineral dosage that is likely to be safe for the average person. Stay under the UL radar (especially when using supplements) to keep toxicities at bay.

The Measurements: Vitamins or minerals that are needed in larger doses are expressed in units of milligrams (mg). Trace minerals and vitamins are expressed in micrograms (mcg). There are 1,000 mcg in one milligram (no fancy math here). All of Greatist&rsquos recommendations for daily intake (&ldquoWhat You Need&rdquo) and limits (What&rsquos Too Much&rdquo) follow the RDA, AI, and UL guidelines.

The Key Players

Biotin (a.k.a. Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H): Like the rest of the water-soluble B-complex vitamins, biotin plays a huge role in cell growth and food metabolism Biotin. Zempleni, J., Wijeratne, S.S.,Hassan, Y.I. Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska. Biofactors, 2009 Jan-Feb35(1):36-46. . Metabolism is the process by which our bodies covert the food we eat into energy that can then be used to power everything we do, from thinking, to running, to hula-hooping. Deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare, but overdoing it on raw egg whites has been known to prevent biotin absorption (albeit, in a pretty old study) (we&rsquore looking at you, Rocky) A separation of the direct toxic effects of dietary raw egg white powder from its action in producing biotin deficiency. Peter, J.M. The British Journal of Nutrition, 196721(4):801-9. .

What You Need: 30 mcg How to Get It: Cooked salmon (4-5 mcg per 3 ounces) whole grains (0.02-6 mcg per slice of bread), eggs (13-25 mcg per large egg), or avocados (2-6 mcg per avocado) What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Calcium: Got milk? Guzzle a glassful to get the daily dose of calcium, a macromineral crucial for the healthy development of bones and teeth. But that&rsquos not all &mdash calcium also offers a helping hand in muscle function, blood clotting, nerve signaling, hormone secretion, and blood pressure Recommended intake of calcium and vitamin D. Positioning of the Nutrition Committee of the AEP. Martinez, S., Moreno, V.J.M., Dalmau, S.J., et al. Servicio de Salud del Principado de Asturias, Centro de Salud El Llano, Gijón, España. Annals of Pediatrics, 2012 Feb 14. . And alongside its sidekick, Vitamin D, calcium helps ward off osteoporosis Vitamin D with or without calcium supplementation for prevention of cancer and fractures: an updated meta-analysis for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Chung, M., Lee, J., Terasawa, T., et al. Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2011 Dec 20155(12):827-38. . While getting too much calcium from dietary sources is rare, taking too many calcium supplements may carry some risk for kidney stones formation or heart disease, though the research is inconclusive Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg). Li, K., Kaaks, R., Linseisen, J., et al. Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, Hirschengraben, Zurich, Switzerland. Heart, 2012 Jun98(12):920-5. .

What You Need:1,000 mg How to Get It: Quench calcium thirst with milk (300 mg per cup&mdashice cream counts too!), yogurt (300 mg per cup), cheddar cheese (303 mg per 1.5 ounces), tofu (258 mg per ½ cup), bok choy (79 mg per ½ cup), spinach (115 mg per ½ cup), and rhubarb (174 mg per ½ cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 2,500mg

Choline: Choline, another water-soluble B vitamin, is a building block of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for the nerve and brain activities that control memory and muscle movement. Choline also helps turn the food we eat and our stored energy (hello, love handles) into fuel Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Zeisel, S.H. and da Costa, K.A. Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Nutrition Reviews, 2009 Nov67(11):615-23. Choline: critical role during fetal development and dietary requirements in adults. Zeisel, S.H. Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Annual Review of Nutrition, 200626:229-50. . Vegetarians, vegans, pregnant women, and endurance athletes are at greater risk for choline deficiency, which is linked to fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis, neurological disorders, and impaired fetal development Choline deprivation: An overview of the major hepatic metabolic response pathways. Al-Humadi, H., Zarros, A., Kyriakaki, A., et al. Department of Pharmacology, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens , Athens , Greece. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2012 May 10. . Extremely high doses won&rsquot kill you, but consuming more than 10 grams per day can cause vomiting, increased sweating and salivation, and a fishy body order (and nobody wants that!).

What You Need: Men = 550 mg Women = 425mg How to Get It: Eggs (126 mg per egg), milk (38 mg per cup), cooked broccoli and Brussels sprouts (both 62 mg per cup), beef (67 mg per 3 ounces), and&mdashget excited&mdashmilk chocolate (20 mg per 1.5 ounce bar). What&rsquos Too Much: 3,500 mg

Chromium: You may have chrome wheels, but do you have chromium-dense meals? Though this trace mineral is thought to enhance insulin activity and the breakdown of the sugars that we eat, it&rsquos only needed in small amounts and is not considered &ldquoessential&rdquo Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Trumbo, P., Yates, A., Schlicker, S., et al. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies, Washington, DC, USA. Journal of the American Diabetic Association, 2001 Mar101(3):294-301. . Though some chromium supplements tout muscle building and weight loss benefits, there is no solid research evidence that backs up the claims A pilot study of chromium picolinate for weight loss. Yazaki, Y., Faridi, Z., Ma, Y., et al. Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Derby, CT, USA. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2010 Mar16(3):291-9. . In fact, overconsumption of chromium supplements could cause kidney damage Effects of chromium picolinate on glycemic control and kidney of the obese Zucker rat. Mozaffari, M., Abdelsayed, R., Liu, J., et al. Department of Oral Biology, School of Dentistry, Medical College of Georgia Augusta, Georgia, USA. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2009 Dec 106:51. . So shelf the supplement and try an absperiment instead for rock-hard abs.

What You Need: Men = 35 mcg Women = 25 mcg How to Get It: There&rsquos heavy metal (chromium metal, that is) in broccoli (22 mcg per cup), grape juice (7.5 mcg per cup), and whole-wheat products like whole-wheat frozen waffles (6.7 mcg per waffle) or whole-wheat English muffins (3.6 mcg per muffin). What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Copper: Don&rsquot be penny-pinching with this shiny mineral, which is an essential trace element and antioxidant. Frontline in the creation of red blood cells, copper is also important for proper energy metabolism, immunity, and nervous system function Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Trumbo, P., Yates, A., Schlicker, S., et al. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies, Washington, DC, USA. Journal of the American Diabetic Association, 2001 Mar101(3):294-301. . Though few and far between, copper deficiencies may manifest as anemia, a low white blood cell count, and bone deterioration The role of copper, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc in nutrition and health. Chan, S., Gerson, B., and Subramanjam, S. Quest Diagnostics Incorporated Nichols Institute, San Juan Capistrano, California. Clinics in Laboratory Medicine, 1998 Dec18(4):673-85. . While copper toxicity from dietary intake is rare, cases of acute copper poisoning (which leads to some not-so-nice tummy troubles) have occurred due to contaminated water supplies or leaching from copper containers A series of patients in the emergency department diagnosed with copper poisoning: recognition equals treatment. Gunay, N., Yildrim, C., Karcioglu, O., et al. Department of Emergency Medicine, Sahinbey Hospital, Gaziantep, Turkey. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2006 Jul209(3):243-8. .

What You Need: 900 mcg How to Get It: Instead of gnawing on pennies, try cooked liver&mdashyum! (4,049 mcg per ounce), oysters (670 mcg per medium oyster), crabmeat (634 per 3 ounces), nuts (cashews, for example, offer 629 mcg per ounce), raw mushrooms (344 mcg per cup), and semisweet chocolate (198 mcg per ounce). What&rsquos Too Much: 10,000 mcg

Fluoride: This non-essential trace mineral helps keep those pearly whites cavity-free and bones less breakable Dietary intake and bioavailability of fluoride. Rao, G.S. Annual Review of Nutrition, 19844:115-36. . Before snacking on some toothpaste, know that most tap water in the U.S. is already fluorinated, taking care of those elemental needs.

What You Need: Men = 4 mg Women = 3 mg How to Get It: Food sources include grape juice (0.05-0.64 mg per cup), canned sardines (0.2-0.4 mg per 3.5 ounces), and chicken (0.06-0.10 mg per 3.5 ounces). What&rsquos Too Much: 10 mg

Folic Acid (a.k.a. folate or folacin): Folic acid is such a key part of our diet that the U.S. government decided to fortify most commercial flour with this water-soluble vitamin. So what&rsquos all the hoopla over folic acid? Well, it&rsquos vital for pregnant women to ensure the baby&rsquos proper development, helping prevent birth defects in the brain and spine Folate and DNA methylation: a review of molecular mechanisms and the evidence for folate&rsquos role. Crider, K.S., Yang, T.P., Berry, R.J. et al. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, GA. Advances in Nutrition, 2012 Jan3(1):21-38. Folic acid supplementation for the prevention of neural tube defects: an update of the evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Wolff, T., Witkop, C., Miller, T., et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2009 May 5150(9):632-9. . No baby on board? Folic acid also helps create most all cells in the body and may reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer Effect modification by population dietary folate on the association between MTHFR genotype, homocysteine, and stroke risk: a meta-analysis of genetic studies and randomized trials. Holmes, M.V., Newcombe, P., Hubacek, J.A., et al. Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK. Lancet, 2011 Aug 13378(9791):584-94. .

What You Need: 400 mcg How to Get It: Look out for fortified grains and cereals (200-400 mcg per cup), asparagus (134 mcg per 6 spears), spinach (132 mcg per half cup), orange juice (83 mcg per cup), and lentils (179 per half cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 1,000 mcg

Iodine: Definitely dine with iodine: This essential trace mineral is a crucial component of thyroid hormones, which maintain our basal metabolic rate (BMR). Iodine also helps to regulate body temperature, nerve and muscle function, and plays a role in the body&rsquos growth and development What&rsquos happening to our iodine? Dunn, J.T. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1998 Oct83(10):3398-400. . Too little iodine can lead to thyroid dysfunction, developmental abnormalities, and even goiters, a swelling of the thyroid gland (that ain&rsquot pretty) Too much versus too little: the implications of current iodine intake in the United States. Lee, K., Bradley, R., Dwyer, J. et al. Frances Stern Nutrition Center, New England Medical Center, Boston, MA. Nutrition Reviews, 1999 Jun57(6):177-81. . Iodine is found in most table salt (it does say &ldquoiodized&rdquo on the container, right?). Now and then, an excess of iodine can cause hyperthyroidism, goiters, and in severe cases, GI discomfort and burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach, though rare.

What You Need: 150 mcg How to Get It: Add some iodine with cod (99 mcg per 3 ounces), shrimp (35 mcg per 3 ounces), canned tuna (17 mcg per half can), milk (56 mcg per cup), baked potatoes (60 mcg per medium potato), and (small amounts of) seaweed (more than than 4,500 mcg per ¼ ounce!). What&rsquos Too Much: 1,100 mcg

Iron: Pump some iron (&hellipinto your meals) to help hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells, and myoglobin (hemoglobin&rsquos counterpart in muscles) bring oxygen to all the cells that need it. Iron is also important in the production of amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Trumbo, P., Yates, A., Schlicker, S., et al. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies, Washington, DC, USA. Journal of the American Diabetic Association, 2001 Mar101(3):294-301. Intestinal iron absorption. Fuqua, B.K., Vulpe, C.D., and Anderson, G.J. Department of Nutrition and Toxicology, University of California, Berkeley, CA. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 2012 May 8. . Since this mineral is more easily absorbed from red meat and poultry, vegetarians and vegans may want to consider iron supplements, or at least consume more iron-rich fruits and leafy green vegetables Vegetarian diets : nutritional considerations for athletes. Venderley, A., and Campbell, W. Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Sports Medicine, 200636(4):293-305. . But don&rsquot go too crazy for iron: Acute overdose of iron can be lethal, and general excess can cause GI irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation Iron poisoning. Banner, W., and Tong, T. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 1986 Apr33(2):393-409. .

What You Need: Men = 8 mg Women = 18 mg How to Get It: Consider beef (2.32 mg per 3 cooked ounces), oysters (5.04 mg per 6 medium oysters), raisins (0.81 mg per small box), prune juice (2.28 mg per 6 fluid ounces), potatoes (1.87 mg per medium potato), cooked lentils (3.30 mg per half cup), tofu (2.15 mg per ¼ block), and cashews (1.89 per ounce). What&rsquos Too Much: 45 mg

Magnesium: Magnetically drawn to calcium, magnesium is a macromineral that partners with calcium to assist with proper muscle contraction, blood clotting, cell signaling, energy metabolism, blood pressure regulation, and building healthy bones and teeth Associations of dietary magnesium intake with mortality from cardiovascular disease: the JACC study. Zhang, W., Iso, H., Ohira, T., et al. Department of Social and Environmental Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan. Atherosclerosis, 2012 Apr221(2):587-95. ! Rest easy because magnesium deficiency is super rare and so are toxicities, unless popping magnesium supplements is your thing. If so, watch out for diarrhea, lethargy, heart rate disturbances, and muscle weakness Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Rosanoff, A., Weaver, C.M., and Rude, R.K. Center for Magnesium Education & Research, Pahoa, HI. Nutrition Reviews, 2012 Mar70(3):153-64. .

What You Need: Men = 400 mg Women = 310 mg How to Get It: Magnify magnesium intake with oat bran (96 mg per half cup), almonds (78 mg per ounce), brown rice (86 mg per cup), cooked spinach (78 mg per half cup), bananas (32 mg per banana), and molasses (48 mg per tablespoon). What&rsquos Too Much: There is no upper limit for dietary magnesium, but supplemental magnesium should not exceed 350 mg/day.

Manganese: Hailing from the Greek word for magic, manganese can be a double-edged sword. Though an essential trace mineral and antioxidant, it is also potentially toxic in excess Invited review: manganese superoxide dismutase in disease. Macmillan-Crow, L. and Cruthirds, D. Free Radical Research. University of Alabama at Birmingham, South Birmingham, AL. Pharmacology, 2001 Apr34(4):325-36. . Important for energy, bone development, and wound healing, overindulgence of this magic mineral &mdash usually a result of water contamination &mdash may cause a dip in intellectual function Manganese toxicity upon overexposure. Crossgrove, J. and Zheng, W. School of Health Sciences, Purdue University, IN. NMR in Biomedicine, 2004 Dec17(8):544-53. Manganese in drinking water and intellectual impairment in school-age children. Chen, H. and Copes, R. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011 Jun119(6):A240-1. .

What You Need: Men = 2.3 mg Women = 1.8 mg How to Get It: Get a limited portion of this potion with pineapples (0.77 mg per half cup), pecans (1.28 mg per ounce), oatmeal (0.99 mg per instant oatmeal packet), brown rice (1.07 mg per half cup), and green tea (0.41-1.58 mg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 11 mg

Molybdenum: Though we can&rsquot help with the pronunciation of this essential trace mineral, we can confirm that it&rsquos a necessary factor of many enzymes, which speed up the body&rsquos biochemical reactions that break down dietary and stored nutrients into energy Molybdenum absorption, excretion, and retention studied with stable isotopes in young men during depletion and repletion. Turnlund, J.R., Keyes, W.R., Peiffer, G.L., et al. Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Presidio of San Francisco, CA. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995 May61(5):1102-9. . Molybdenum deficiency has never been documented in healthy people, and toxicity is similarly rare.

What You Need: 45 mcg How to Get It: Grub rich in molybdenum includes legumes like black beans (130 mcg per cup) and split peas (148 mcg per cup), and nuts like almonds, chestnuts, and peanuts (all about 42 mcg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 2,000 mcg

Niacin ( a.k.a. Vitamin B3 or Nicotinic Acid): On the lookout for beautiful skin, hair, and red blood cells? Niacin is here to help! Like other water-soluble B vitamins, niacin is essential for converting food into energy. It&rsquos also central for the health of skin, hair, eyes, liver, and the nervous system, and is believed to lower risks of high cholesterol and heart disease Niacin: chemical forms, bioavailability, and health effects. Mackay, D., Hathcock, J., and Guarneri, E. Council for Responsible Nutrition, Washington, DC, USA Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, La Jolla, California, USA. Nutrition Reviews, 2012 Jun70(6):357-66. Mechanism of action of niacin. Kamanna, V.S., and Kashyap, M.L. Atherosclerosis Research Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Long Beach, CA. The American Journal of Cardiology, 2008 Apr 17101(8A):20B-26B. Niacin: an old drug rejuvenated. Kamanna, V.S., Ganji, S.H., and Kashyap, M.L. Atherosclerosis Research Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Long Beach, CA. Current Athersclerosis Reports, 2009 Jan11(1):45-51. . Extreme deficiencies in niacin may lead to pellagra, which is associated with the &ldquothe four D&rsquos&rdquo: dermatitis (skin irritation), diarrhea, dementia, and death (yikes!) Effectiveness of food fortification in the United States: the case of pellagra. Park, Y., Sempos, C., Barton, C., et al. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, Washington, DC, USA. American Journal of Public Health, 2000 May90(5):727-38. . But don&rsquot overdo it either: Pellagra is exceptionally rare. High doses of niacin can be toxic, and may cause rosy tingling &mdash the so-called &ldquoniacin flush&rdquo &mdash if doses exceed 50 mg per day A &ldquohot&rdquo topic in dyslipidemia management&ndash&ldquohow to beat a flush&rdquo: optimizing niacin tolerability to promote long-term treatment adherence and coronary disease prevention. Jacobson, T. Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Emory University, Faculty Office Building, Atlanta, GA, USA. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2010 Apr85(4):365-79. .

What You Need: Men = 16 mg Women = 14 mg How to Get It: Nosh on peanuts (3.8 mg per ounce), chicken (7.3 mg per 3 ounces), salmon (8.5 mg per 3 ounces), fortified cereals (20-27 mg per cup), and coffee (0.5 mg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 35 mg

Pantothenic Acid (a.k.a. Vitamin B5): This vitamin is important in food metabolism and helps synthesize neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, red blood cells, and more. Toxicity is virtually nonexistent, and while B5 deficiency is fairly rare (it tends to accompany severe malnutrition) neurologic symptoms such as burning feet may crop up Pantothenic acid in health and disease. Tahilliani, A.G., and Beinlich, C.J. Weis Center for Research, Danville, Pennsylvania. Vitamins and Hormones, 199146:165-228. .

What You Need: 5 mg (AI) How to Get It: Steer clear of tingling toes with foods like chicken (0.98 mg per 3 ounces), eggs (0.61 mg per large egg), whole grains (0.19 mg per slice of whole wheat bread), mushrooms (0.52 mg per half cup), sweet potato (0.88 mg per medium potato), avocados (1.99 mg per whole avocado), and yogurt (1.35 mg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Phosphorus: Keep bones and teeth prosperous with phosphorus, a macromineral that primarily builds and protects those choppers and your skeleton. Phosphorus is also a component of DNA and RNA, helps convert food into energy, and aids in shuttling nutrients to the organs that need them Dietary phosphorus in bone health and quality of life. Takeda, E., Yamamoto, H., Yamanaka-Okumura, H. et al. Nutrition Reviews. Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Health Biosciences, University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima, Japan. Nutrition Reviews, 2012 Jun70(6):311-21. . While the kidneys dislike phosphorus in excess, acute poisoning with phosphorus is virtually nonexistent. On the flipside, rare cases of phosphorus deficiency can lead to anemia, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, rickets (in children), and numbness and tingling in the legs Hypophosphatemic rickets. Jagtap, V., Sarathi, V., Lilia, A., et al. Department of Endocrinology, Seth G. S. Medical College, Parel, Mumbai, India. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2012 Mar16(2):177-82. .

What You Need: 700 mg How to Get It: Foods abounding in phosphorus include all-things dairy, like milk (257 mg per cup), yogurt (385 mg per cup) and cheese (131 mg per ounce). Not a dairy lover? Consider salmon (252 mg per 3 ounces), eggs (104 mg per large egg), beer (173 mg per 3 ounces), chicken (155 mg per 3 ounces), and&mdashget this&mdashcarbonated cola drinks (40 mg per 12 ounces). What&rsquos Too Much: 4,000 mg

Potassium: Our hearts beat for potassium, a macromineral and electrolyte that&rsquos essential for a steady heartbeat, the transmission of nervous system signals, and muscle function Sodium and potassium intake and mortality among US adults: prospective data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Yang, Q., Liu, T., Kuklina, E.V., et al. Division for Heart Diseases and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011 Jul 11171(13):1183-91. . Alongside sodium, potassium is also an MVP in balancing fluids by helping the kidney save fluids when we are dehydrated or excrete fluids that are in excess. And wait, there&rsquos more! Potassium is thought to lower blood pressure and benefit bones, too Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Whelton, P., He, J., Cutler, J., et al. Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 1997 May 28277(20):1624-32. . Short-term potassium deficiencies (often from prolonged vomiting or diarrhea) may cause fatigue, muscle weakness and cramps, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation &mdash thanks but no thanks Narrative review: evolving concepts in potassium homeostasis and hypokalemia. Greenlee, M., Wingo, C., McDonough, A. et al. University of Florida College of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville, Florida, USA. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2009 May 5150(9):619-25. ! But don&rsquot get too pumped up on potassium: consuming high doses (typically from supplements) can lead to muscle weakness, tingling in hands and feet, GI symptoms, and abnormal heart rhythms Hyperkalemia: a review. Evans, K., and Greenberg, A. Duke University Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Durham, NC, USA. Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, 2005 Sep-Oct20(5):272-90. .

What You Need: 4,700 mg How to Get It: Kick up your K (potassium&rsquos letter on the periodic table) with baked potatoes (926 mg per medium potato), artichokes (343 mg per medium artichoke), plums (637 mg per ½ cup), raisins (598 mg per ½ cup), and bananas (422 per medium banana). What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Flavorful riboflavin definitely has street cred. This water-soluble B vitamin helps convert food to fuel, encourages iron absorption in the intestines, and also enhances the health of hair, skin, muscles, eyes, and the brain Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and health. Powers, H.J. Centre for Human Nutrition, The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003 Jun77(6):1352-60. . And some research suggests that riboflavin may be effective at combating migraines, too Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Schoenen, J., Jacquy, L., and Lenaerts, M. Department of Neurology, University of Liège, CHR Citadelle, Belgium. Neurology, 1998 Feb50(2):466-70. . Riboflavin deficiency is uncommon, but is associated with a sore throat, cracks and sores around the lips, an inflamed &ldquomagenta tongue&rdquo (say what?!), and scaly skin Riboflavin status of adolescents in southern China. Average intake of riboflavin and clinical findings. Lo, C. The Medical Journal of Australia, 1984 Nov 10141(10):635-7. . While enormous intake of riboflavin may turn your pee bright yellow (a phenomenon called flavinuria), this side effect is harmless.

What You Need: Men = 1.3mg Women = 1.1mg How to Get It: Rev up riboflavin with milk (0.34 mg per cup), almonds (0.23 mg per ounce), cheddar cheese (0.11 mg per ounce), eggs (0.27 mg per large egg), and enriched grains and cereals (0.59-2.27 mg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Selenium: Selenium is a smooth-operator of thyroid hormone regulation, and also acts as an antioxidant Selenium and human health. Rayman, M.P. Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. Lancet, 2012 Mar 31379(9822):1256-68. . Antioxidants kick the &ldquobad-guy&rdquo cells (free radicals) out of the body in order to prevent them from damaging the &ldquogood-guy&rdquo cells. Chronic excess of this trace mineral (usually from supplements) is known to cause nausea, GI discomfort, and hair and nail brittleness, so supplement selenium in moderation Acute selenium toxicity associated with a dietary supplement. MacFarquhar, J.K., Broussard, D.L. Melstrom, P., et al. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010 Feb 8170(3):256-61. .

What You Need: 55 mcg How to Get It: Brazil nuts (544 mcg per six kernels) are sky-high in selenium, and shrimp (34 mcg per 10-12 shrimp), crabmeat (41 mcg per 3 ounces), salmon (40 mcg per 3 ounces), enriched noodles (38 mcg per cup), beef (16 mcg per 3 ounces), and pork (35 mcg per 3 ounces) have a decent slice of it too. What&rsquos Too Much: 400 mcg

Sodium Chloride (a.k.a. salt): Chemistry buffs know this pair of minerals as NaCl. The rest of us call it table salt. Before shaking it up, know that sodium chloride is found in high quantities in most meals, snacks, and even drinks. While it is essential for fluid balance, nerve signal transmission, muscle contractions, digestion, and blood pressure, it is possible to have too much of this savory mineral set Salt and hypertension: is salt dietary reduction worth the effort? Frisoli, T.M., Schmieder, R.E., Grodzicki, T., et al. St Luke&rsquos-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, New York, USA. The American Journal of Medicine, 2012 May125(5):433-9. . Excess sodium intake can raise blood pressure above normal limits, increasing the risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease down the road Effects of low sodium diet versus high sodium diet on blood pressure, renin, aldosterone, catecholamines, cholesterol, and triglyceride. Graudal, N.A., Hubeck-Graudal, T., and Jurgens, G. Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, 2011 Nov 9(11):CD004022. . Since the average daily diet already includes salt waaaay in excess, consider low-salt alternatives like olive oil (instead of butter), unsalted nuts in favor of salted ones, and fresh fruit!

What You Need: 500 mg of sodium 750 mg of chloride How to Get It: Sodium chloride can be soaked up from white bread (850 mg per two slices), pickles (800 mg per 1 spear), hot dogs (1,300 mg per one wiener&mdashhot diggity dog!), and canned goods such as chicken noodle soup (a striking 3,400 mg of NaCl per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 2,300 mg of sodium (the equivalent of 5.8 g of salt per day)

Thiamin (a.k.a. Vitamin B1): Another member of the water-soluble B pack, thiamin helps with food metabolism and boosts the health of hair, skin, muscles, and the brain A review of the biochemistry, metabolism and clinical benefits of thiamin(e) and its derivatives. Lonsale, D. Preventive Medicine Group, Westlake, OH. Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, 2006 Mar3(1):49-59. Thiamin(e): The Spark of Life. Lonsale, D. Preventive Medicine Group, Westlake, OH. Sub-cellular Biochemistry, 201256:199-227. . Toxicity has never been observed, and though thiamin deficiency (also known as beriberi) is rare in the U.S., it&rsquos not nonexistent. Symptoms affect the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, and gastrointestinal systems in a variety of ways Thiamine in nutrition therapy. Sriram, K., Manzanares, W., and Joseph, K. Department of Surgery, Chicago, IL, USA. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 2012 Feb27(1):41-50. .

What You Need: Men = 1.2 mg Women = 1.1 mg How to Get It: Dodge beriberi with a fair share of milk (0.10 mg per cup), lentils (0.17 mg per ½ cup), cantaloupe (0.11 mg per ½ fruit), enriched long grain white rice (0.26 mg per cup), and pecans (0.19 mg per ounce). What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Vitamin A (a.k.a. retinol, retinal, retinoic acid): So what&rsquos up with this vitamin, doc? Though known as being good for vision, vitamin A has many other vital tasks: It encourages red and white blood cell production and activity, keeps the immune system fit and blood vessels healthy, helps rebuild bone, regulates cell growth and division, and may reduce the risk for some cancers The role of retinoic acid in tolerance and immunity. Hall, J.A., Grainger, J.R., Spencer, S.P., et al. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Immunity, 201135(1):13-22. Overview of retinoid metabolism and function. Blomhoff, R. and Blomhoff, H.K. Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. Journal of Neurobiology, 2006 Jun66(7):606-30. . Retinoids, variations of Vitamin A, are also used in medications to treat various skin diseases and acne Systemic retinoids for chemoprevention of non-melanoma skin cancer in high-risk patients. Marquez, C., Bair, S., Smithberger, E., et al. Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, FL. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 2010 Jul9(7):753-8. . Though infrequent in the U.S., vitamin A deficiency is not unheard of in developing countries, and can cause night blindness and, in extreme instances, complete blindness. Vitamin A deficiency also plays a role in diarrhea and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases in developing countries Vitamin A metabolism and adipose tissue biology. Frey, S.K. and Vogel, S. Department of Medicine and the Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University, New York, NY. Nutrients, 2011 Jan3(1):27-39. . So make like Bugs Bunny and crunch on some carrots for high doses of beta-carotene, which is readily converted to vitamin A once digested The importance of beta-carotene as a source of vitamin A with special regard to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Strobel, M., Tinz, J., and Biesalski, H.K. European Journal of Nutrition. Nutrition and Food Security, Gronau, Germany. 2007 Jul46 Suppl 1:I1-20. Spinach or carrots can supply significant amounts of vitamin A as assessed by feeding with intrinsically deuterated vegetables. Tang, G., Qin, J., Dolnikowski, G.G., et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA. 2005 Oct82(4):821-8. .

What You Need: Men = 900 mcg Women = 700 mcg How to Get It: Consider kale (443 mcg per ½ cup), eggs (91 mcg per large egg) and cod liver oil &mdash ymmmm (1,350 mcg per teaspoon). And think orange: consider carrots (538 mcg per ½ cup) baked sweet potatoes (961 mcg per ½ cup), canned pumpkin (953 mcg per ½ cup), cantaloupe (467 mcg per ½ a melon), mango (79 mcg per fruit), and butternut squash (572 mcg per ½ cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 3,000 mcg

Vitamin B6 (a.k.a. pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine): Like a G6, this essential, water-soluble vitamin flies high above the others. Vitamin B6 helps out with the production of serotonin, a hormone that plays a hand in sleep, appetite, and mood Pyridoxine effect on synthesis rate of serotonin in the monkey brain measured with positron emission tomography. Hartvig, P., Lindner, K., and Bjurling, P., et al. Uppsala University PET Centre, Uppsala, Sweden. Journal of Neural Transmission, 1995102(2):91-7. . It also assists with manufacturing red blood cells and steroid hormones, influences cognitive and immune function, and is linked to reducing the risk of heart disease The effect of vitamin B6 on cognition. Malouf, R. and Grimley, E.J. Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group, Radcliffe Infirmary, Woodstock Road, Oxford, UK. Cochrane Database System Review, 2003(4). Vitamin B6: a molecule for human health? Hellmann, H. and Mooney, S. . Diets lacking B6 are rare, but evidence of seizures and other neurologic systems are observed in extreme deficiency. Adverse effects from high doses are primarily seen in people taking supplements, and include pain and numbness in the limbs How much vitamin B6 is toxic? Katan, M. Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences en Wageningen Universiteit, Humane Voeding, Wageningen. Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde, 2005 Nov 12149(46):2545-6. .

What You Need: 1.3 mg How to Get It: Foods soaring in vitamin B6 include salmon (0.48 mg per 3 ounces), chicken (0.51 mg per 3 ounces), bananas (0.43 mg per medium banana), baked russet potatoes with the skin (0.70 mg per medium potato), hazelnuts (0.18 mg per ounce), and cooked spinach (0.44 mg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 100 mg

Vitamin B12: Another water-soluble B vitamin, vitamin B12 offers a helping hand in the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids, cell creation, and the protection of nerve cells , and also may reduce the risk of Alzheimer&rsquos Folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12 and their function in the maintenance of nuclear and mitochondrial genome integrity. Fenech, M. CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, Australia. Mutation Research, 2012 May 1733(1-2):21-33. Vitamin B12 levels in Alzheimer&rsquos disease: association with clinical features and cytokine production. Politis, A., Olgiati, P., Malitas, P. et al. Division of Geriatric Psychiatry Department of Psychiatry, Eginition Hospital, University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece. Journal of Alzheimer&rsquos Disease, 201019(2):481-8. . Keep B12 close when it gets to those later, grey-haired years: deficiencies are common in the elderly and may cause memory loss, dementia, and anemia An update on cobalamin deficiency in adults. Dali-Youcef, N. and Andres, E. Universitaires de Strasbourg, Strasbourg Cedex, France. QJM: Monthly Journal of the Association of Physicians, 2009 Jan102(1):17-28. . Toxicities are not observed, and vegetarians and vegans may even need supplements.

What You Need: 2.4 mcg How to Get It: Binge on bivalves like clams (84 mcg per 3 ounces) and mussels (20.4 mcg per 3 ounces). Not into bottom-dwellers? Beef (2.1 mcg per 3 ounces), salmon (2.4 mcg per 3 ounces), poached eggs (0.6 mcg per large egg), skim milk (0.9 mcg per cup), and brie cheese&mdashfantastique! (0.5 mcg per ounce), are also buds of B12. What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Vitamin C (a.k.a. asorbic acid): As we go on, we remember&hellip that vitamin C is one of the best vitamins ever! Cartons of OJ are emblazoned with this famous vitamin&rsquos name &mdash and for a good reason. Vitamin C is thought to lower the risk for some cancers, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast Vitamin C and cancer: what can we conclude&ndash1,609 patients and 33 years later? Cabanillas, F. University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal, 2010 Sep29(3):215-7. . It also helps make collagen, an important tool in wound repair. And let&rsquos not forget its antioxidant properties and immune-boosting effects Six-year effect of combined vitamin C and E supplementation on atherosclerotic progression: the Antioxidant Supplementation in Atherosclerosis Prevention (ASAP) Study. Salonen, R., Nyyssonen, K., Kaikkonen, J., et al. Research Institute of Public Health, University of Kuopio, Finland. Circulation, 2003 Feb 25107(7):947-53. ! But before chugging that daily glass of Emergen-C to ward off a cold, know that evidence linking &ldquomega-doses&rdquo of Vitamin C to staving off sickness are conflicting. How so? A review of 30 research trials that included over 11,000 people showed that the incidence of the common cold is not decreased with high Vitamin C intake Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Douglas, R.M., Hemila, H., Chalker, E., et al. Cochrane Database of System Reviews, 2007 Jul 18(3). . What&rsquos more, the potential for vitamin C overdose is not ruled out, though uncertain. But don&rsquot skimp on C: After all, scurvy &mdash the severe vitamin C deficiency linked to bleeding, bruising, join pain, and hair and tooth loss &mdash is for pirates, not millennials Scurvy: a disease almost forgotten. Olmedo, J., Yiannis, J., Windgassen, E. et al. Department of Dermatology, Division of Regional and International Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. International Journal of Dermatology, 2006 Aug45(8):909-13. . Arrgh!

What You Need: Men = 90 mg Women = 75mg (Smokers should add 35 mg) How to Get It: Choose citrus, like OJ (100+ mg per cup) and grapefruits (76 mg per medium fruit), or consider strawberries (85 mg per cup), tomatoes (16 mgg per medium tomato), red peppers (95 mg per ½ cup), and broccoli (51 mg per ½ cup). What&rsquos Too Much: 2,000 mg

Vitamin D: Who loves the sun? This essential fat-soluble vitamin &mdash which is vital for normal calcium metabolism, immunity, nervous system function, and bone density &mdash sure does Vitamin D: considerations in the continued development as an agent for cancer prevention and therapy. Trump, D.L., Deeb, K.K., and Johnson, C.S. Department of Medicine, The Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY. Cancer Journal, 2010 Jan-Feb16(1):1-9. Higher Vitamin D Dietary Intake Is Associated With Lower Risk of Alzheimer&rsquos Disease: A 7-Year Follow-up. Annweiler, C., Rolland, Y., Schott, A.M., et al. Department of Neuroscience, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Angers, France. The Journals of Gerontology, 2012 Apr 13. . But before vitamin D can live up to its expectations, it must be activated by a burst of UV rays. Before you throw on a bikini and soak up the sun (putting you at risk for skin cancer!) consider supplements or cereals, milk, and juices that are fortified with the active form, which is equally effective Estimated equivalency of vitamin D production from natural sun exposure versus oral vitamin D supplementation across seasons at two US latitudes. Terushkin, V., Bender, A., Psaty, E.L., et al. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 2010 Jun62(6):929.e1-9. . Dips in vitamin D are no joke: chronic deficiency puts you at risk for osteoporosis later in life. Make sure your diet shines with vitamin D (especially in the winter) to keep your bones healthy and reduce risks of cancer Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D in relation to bone health. Cranney, A., Horsley, T., O&rsquoDonnell, S., et al. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment, 2007 Aug(158):1-235. .

What You Need: 15 mcg How to Get It: Dive into vitamin D with fortified cereals (1.0-1.3 mcg per cup), fortified milk (2.4 mcg per cup), canned salmon (13.3 mcg per 3 ounces), and egg yolks (0.53 mcg per large egg. What&rsquos Too Much: 50 mcg

Vitamin E: E is for the Excellent Eight. A family of eight antioxidants, vitamin E protects essential lipids from damage, battles free radicals, and maintains the integrity of cell membranes Impact of vitamin E on immune function and its clinical implications. Han, S.N. and Meydani, S.N. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, MA. Expert Review of Clinical Immunology, 2006 Jul2(4):561-7. . Drop some E (the vitamin!) to avoid impaired balance and coordination, muscle weakness, and pain and numbness in the limbs &mdash all signs of extreme deficiency The role of nutrition in enhancing immunity in aging. Pae, M., Meydani, S.N., and Wu, D. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA. Aging and Disease, 2012 Feb3(1):91-129. . Think you&rsquore in the clear? Turns out that more than 90 percent of Americans do not meet the recommendations for this vitamin&rsquos daily intake.

What You Need: 15 mg How to Get It: Close the gap with vegetable oils like olive oil (1.9 mg per tablespoon), canola oil (2.4 mg per tablespoon), almonds (7.4 mg per ounce), avocados (2.7 mg per avocado), and hazelnuts (4.3 mg per ounce). What&rsquos Too Much: 1,000 mg

Vitamin K: Not to be confused with its mineral chum potassium (which is also noted as a &ldquoK&rdquo on the periodic table), this essential fat-soluble vitamin is a must for normal wound healing and bone development Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their Availability in the Average North American Diet. Price, C.T., Langford, J.R, and Liporace, F.A. Orlando Health, Orlando, Florida. The Open Orthopedics Journal, 20126:143-9. . K is for &ldquokoagulation,&rdquo the German word for coagulation, or clotting. While blood clots sound menacing, consider the importance of scabs, which are simply patches of clotted blood to protect cuts and scrapes Vitamin K: the effect on health beyond coagulation &ndash an overview. Vermeer, C. VitaK and Cardiovascular Research Institute CARIM, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. Food and Nutrition Research, 201256. . Ladies taking birth control pills should be careful with overconsumption of vitamin K, as a combination of the birth control pill and excess Vitamin K could put you at risk for unwanted clots Nutritional effects of oral contraceptive use: a review. Webb, J.L.1980 Oct25(4):150-6. . Deficiencies in vitamin K include easy bruisability, bleeding, nosebleeds, and heavy menstrual periods.

What You Need: Men = 120 mcg Women = 90 mcg (AI) How to Get It: Attain the RDA with cooked broccoli (220 mcg per cup), kale (547 mcg per cup), parsley (246 mcg per ¼ cup), and Swiss chard (299 mcg per cup). What&rsquos Too Much: Not determined

Zinc: Zippity doo dah for zinc, a trace element that is a building block for enzymes, proteins, and cells. It is also responsible for freeing Vitamin A from its holding tank, the liver, through its enzymatic activity Interactions between zinc and vitamin A: an update. Christian, P. and West, K. Center for Human Nutrition and the Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1998 Aug68(2 Suppl):435S-441S. . But that&rsquos not all for the last on this list: zinc also plays a role in boosting the immune system, mediating senses such as taste and smell, and wound healing Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients. Bourre, J. French Academy of Medicine. Department of Neuro-pharmaco-nutrition. Hôpital Fernand Widal, Paris, France. The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, 2006 Sep-Oct10(5):377-85. . Zinc toxicity is rare, but zinc deficiency (most commonly occurring in the developing world) may lead to delays in growth and development, rough skin, cognitive impairment, a weakened immune system (leading in increased susceptibility of infectious diseases, particularly in kids), and more Discovery of human zinc deficiency: 50 years later. Prasad, A. Wayne State University School of Medicine, Department of Oncology and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center, Detroit, MI, USA. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 2012 Jun26(2-3):66-9 Subclinical zinc deficiency impairs human brain function. Sandstead, H. The University of Texas Medical Branch, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Division of Human Nutrition, Galveston, TX. Journal of Trace Minerals in Medicine and Biology, 2012 Jun26(2-3):70-3. .

What You Need: Men = 11 mg Women = 8 mg How to Get It: Zinc can be zeroed in on in oysters (76.3 mg per 6 oysters), beef (6 mg per 3 ounces), turkey (3.8 mg per 3 ounces), milk (1.8 mg per cup), and cashews (1.6 mg per ounce). Vegetarians and vegans take note: zinc is less easily absorbed from vegetables so consider supplements or munching on more zinc rich foods. What&rsquos Too Much: 40 mg Last but not least, don&rsquot forget your daily dose of Vitamin G!


Do we know a complete list of nutrients that humans must ingest to live? - Biology

In this lesson students will learn the definition of an essential element, compare and contrast the essential nutrient requirements of plants and humans, explain why plants cannot use elemental nitrogen found in the atmosphere, and identify the sources for each essential nutrient needed by plants.

Estimated Time
Materials Needed
  • 1 colored pencil per student
  • Master 1.1, Essential Nutrients (Prepare an overhead transparency.)
  • Master 1.2, The Periodic Table (Make 1 copy per student and prepare an overhead transparency.)
  • Master 1.3, Chemical Symbols of the Elements (Make 1 copy per student.)
  • Master 1.4, Essential Plant Nutrients (Prepare an overhead transparency.)
  • Master 1.5, Essential Human Nutrients (Prepare an overhead transparency.)
  • Master 1.6, Sources of Essential Nutrients (Make 1 copy per student and prepare an overhead transparency.)
  • Master 1.7, Using Nitrogen (Make 1 copy per student.)
Essential File (map, chart, picture, or document)
Vocabulary Words

macronutrient: a nutrient that must be present in a relatively large amount to ensure the health of the organism that are building blocks used to make essential biomolecules

micronutrient: a nutrient required in small quantities to ensure the health of the organism often used as cofactors for enzymatic reactions

nitrogen fixation: a biological or chemical process by which elemental nitrogen, from the air, is converted to organic or available nitrogen

nutrient: any of 17 essential mineral and non mineral elements necessary for plant growth

nutrient deficiency: a condition where the amount of a nutrient essential to the health of an organism is lacking or present in an insufficient amount

Background Agricultural Connections

A ll organisms must take in matter from their environment in order to survive. There are 92 naturally occurring elements on Earth. Only a minority of them is needed by living things. For example, humans require about 21 different elements to be healthy. Almost all of the mass of our bodies comes from just six of those elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium). These are the elements used to construct the carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins, and other molecules that make up our cells and carry out their chemistry. Other elements critical to our health are needed in very small amounts. Often, such elements are cofactors required by enzymes to catalyze specific chemical reactions. Regardless of whether elements are needed in large or small amounts, they must be obtained from the environment. Furthermore, it is not enough that essential elements are present in the environment they must be available in a chemical form that our bodies can use.

Not surprisingly, the situation in plants is similar. They, too, must carry out thousands of different chemical reactions,many of which are similar to those of humans. Scientists have identified 17 elements that are described as essential elements (see Table 7). An element is described as being essential to the plant if the following conditions are met:

  • The element must be required by the plant to complete its life cycle.
  • The element can not be replaced by another element.
  • The element must be required for a specific biological function.
  • The element must be required by a substantial number of different plant species.

Three essential elements (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) are classified as non-mineral nutrients because they are obtained from the atmosphere and water. Three others (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) are classified as macronutrients because they are needed in relatively large amounts. These six elements have important roles to play as building blocks for a cell&rsquos biomolecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates. Three additional elements (calcium, sulfur, and magnesium) are called secondary elements, reflecting their supporting biochemical roles in the cell. The rest of the essential elements are called micronutrients because they are needed in small amounts. It is important to note that despite their name, micronutrients are just as essential to plants as are macronutrients.

The large majority of essential elements are absorbed by plants from water in the soil. Almost always the essential elements are taken up as a positively charged cation or a negatively charged anion. Of special interest is the situation regarding nitrogen. Although the atmosphere is about 80 percent nitrogen, plants cannot make use of nitrogen gas (N 2 ). Instead, plants need to obtain their nitrogen by taking up the cation ammonium (NH 4 + ) or the anion nitrate (NO 3 - ) in the soil. These ionic forms of nitrogen are generated by the breakdown of organic material in the soil or through a process called nitrogen fixation that is carried out by soil microbes. Some crop plants (legumes such as peas, beans, peanuts, and soybeans) live in close association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live in their roots and convert N 2 gas to a form that plants can use. Such crops have a steady source of nitrogen and don&rsquot require nitrogen-containing fertilizers.

Teacher note:In this activity, the terms nutrient and chemical element are used interchangeably. In the context of plant requirements, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen are called the non-mineral nutrients. Remember, it is not important to discuss each essential element rather, you should focus on those elements that are important in building proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates.

Interest Approach - Engagement
  1. Ask students questions to assess their prior knowledge. Questions could include:
    • What is an essential element?
    • What nutrients are essential to life? Are they the same for plants and humans?
    • Where do these nutrients come from?
  2. After completing this lesson, students will be able to
    • define an essential element,
    • compare and contrast the essential nutrient requirements of plants and humans,
    • explain why plants cannot use elemental nitrogen found in the atmosphere, and
    • identify the sources for each essential nutrient needed by plants.
Procedures

Activity 1: Essential Nutrients

  1. Begin the lesson by explaining that scientists who are interested in studying human health must understand the specific needs of the body. Ask students, &ldquoWhat do humans need to live?&rdquo
    • Accept all answers. Write student responses on the board or on an overhead transparency. Direct the discussion to elicit air (oxygen), water, and food. Some students may realize that sleep is also required for survival. Other students may suggest environmental conditions such as temperature and pressure or material things such as clothing and shelter.
  2. Remind students that life requires energy for its existence. Ask students, &ldquoWhat do people take into their bodies from their environment to help them survive?&rdquo
    • Students should recognize from their previous answers that air, water, and food are obtained from the environment.
  3. Ask students, &ldquoWhy do we need air, water, and food to survive?
    • Students should recognize that it is the oxygen in the air that we require.
    • Students should be able to explain that our cells are mostly made of water. Water is the medium in which life has evolved. It is required for the chemistry of life.
    • Students should recognize that we derive chemical energy from food and that it supplies the chemical building blocks needed by our cells.
  4. Remind students that humans (and animals) eat plants and other animals to obtain chemical energy and provide them with the building blocks needed by their cells. Ask students, &ldquoDo plants need food?&rdquo
    • Keep in mind that &lsquofood&rsquo is an imprecise term that includes both a source of chemical energy and nutrients. Some students may respond that plants do not need food because they can obtain energy from photosynthesis. Other students may mention that plants need water or that they obtain nutrients from the soil. If not mentioned by a student, remind the class that fertilizers can be considered food for plants.
  5. Explain that they will now investigate the chemical elements that are essential for plant growth. Display a transparency of Master 1.1, Essential Nutrients. Ask different students to read aloud the criteria that describe an essential element.
    • There are more than 100 known elements that combine in a multitude of ways to produce compounds, which account for the living and nonliving substances we encounter.
  6. Pass out to each student a copy of Master 1.2, The Periodic Table and a copy of Master 1.3, Chemical Symbols of the Elements. Instruct the class to think about the definition of &ldquoessential element&rdquo and use a colored pencil to shade those elements on the periodic table that they think are essential for healthy plant growth. If possible, students should think of an example of how a given element is used by the plant (such as nitrogen being used to make protein).
    • Give students about 5 minutes to complete this task. This step gives you an opportunity to assess how well students can relate their knowledge of chemistry to biology. For example, students may respond that carbon is used to make sugar. Students likely will not be able to suggest a function for elements needed in trace amounts. Usually, such elements are needed as cofactors for enzymes. It is not important to discuss the uses of each element, but it is important that students understand that these elements are needed to build cell structures and to carry out the cell&rsquos chemistry through enzymatic reactions.
  7. Display a transparency of Master 1.2, The Periodic Table. Ask a student volunteer to read aloud the elements shaded on his or her periodic table. Have the volunteer explain why he or she selected those particular elements. Have additional students add to the list with their predictions.
    • As the elements are read off, circle them on the transparency. Students are not expected to identify the complete list of essential elements. Their responses however, will reflect their relative knowledge about the biology of plants.
  8. Explain that you are now going to reveal which elements have been shown to be essential for plant growth and compare them with students&rsquo predictions. Display a transparency of Master 1.4, Essential Plant Nutrients.
    • Students likely will be surprised that so many elements are essential for plant growth. The comparison between the elements predicted by the students and the accepted ones should show some overlap, especially among the most abundant elements: carbon (C), hydrogen (H), nitrogen (N), oxygen (O), phosphorus (P), and sulfur (S). If not already mentioned, ask students to name an important molecule in the cell that requires the element phosphorus. If not mentioned, you can explain that the most important energy molecule in the cell is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and it includes the element phosphorus. Cells carry on the many functions needed to sustain life. . This requires that they take in nutrients, which they use to provide energy for the work that cells do and to make the materials that a cell or organism needs.
  9. Ask, &ldquoDo you think that humans require the same essential elements as plants?&rdquo
    • Responses will vary. Some students may think that since humans and plants are very different from each other, they will need different sets of elements. Others may reason that since plants and humans are each made of cells, the essential elements needed by both will be similar.
  10. Display a transparency of Master 1.5, Essential Human Nutrients. Ask students to comment on how similar or dissimilar the pattern of elements is compared with that shown previously for plants.
    • Students should notice that the two patterns are more alike than different. To make this point clearer, you can align and overlap the transparencies of Masters 1.4, Essential Plant Nutrients and 1.5, EssentialHuman Nutrients.

Activity 2: Sources of Essential Nutrients

Teacher note: This activity is designed to get students thinking about where plants obtain their essential nutrients. Some essential nutrients are obtained from more than one source. For the purpose of this activity, you want students to realize that plants obtain their non mineral nutrients (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) from the air and water, while the rest come from the soil.

  1. Explain that you will conclude the lesson with a brief activity that explores from where plants obtain their essential nutrients.
  2. Pass out to each student a copy of Master 1.6, Sources of Essential Nutrients. Explain that the handout lists the 17 essential plant nutrients. Instruct students to think about where a corn plant obtains its essential nutrients. Students should indicate the source&mdashair, water, and soil&mdashof each nutrient (that is, each chemical element) by checking the appropriate boxes on the handout.
    • For the purpose of this activity, students should think about water as rainfall (before it reaches the ground). It therefore should not include those elements found in soil that may be dissolved in it. Students are free to check more than one box for any element. Give students about 5 minutes to complete this task.
  3. Display a transparency of Master 1.6, Sources of Essential Nutrients. Ask a student volunteer to describe which elements he or she listed as coming from water.
    • Put a &ldquoW&rdquo next to the elements named by the students. Of course, students should mention hydrogen and oxygen. Actually, rainwater may contain small amounts of other elements derived from atmospheric gases and dust particles.
  4. Ask another volunteer to describe which elements he or she listed as coming from the air.
    • Put an &ldquoA&rdquo next to the elements named by the students. Students should recognize that the corn plant obtains carbon (via CO2) and oxygen (via O2) from the air. Some students may know that most of the atmosphere is nitrogen (as N2). Most students will not realize that nitrogen gas is not available to the corn plant in a usable form. Do not correct this misconception yet. This issue will be addressed in Step 7. As with water, small amounts of other elements also may be present due to air pollution.
  5. Ask another volunteer to describe which elements he or she listed as coming from the soil.
    • Put an &ldquoS&rdquo next to the elements named by the students. Students should list most if not all of the essential elements. The soil not only contains many elements that reflect its geological history, but it also contains organic material from once-living plants and animals as well as from the abundant microbial life that resides there.
  6. Pass out to each student a copy of Master 1.7, Using Nitrogen. Instruct students to read the description and answer the questions.
  7. After students have completed their tasks, ask them, &ldquoIn the light of what you just read, would you change your prediction of where the corn plant obtains its nitrogen?&rdquo
    • Students should answer that the corn plant must obtain its nitrogen from the soil rather than from the air.
  8. Ask for a volunteer to read his or her answer to Question 1 on Master 1.7, Using Nitrogen.
    • Question 1: What happens to plants if soil microbes are not present to either covert nitrogen gas to a usable form, or to release nitrogen from dead plants and the soil&rsquos organic matter?
    • Answer:Students should recognize that plants need nitrogen to survive. They should predict that the plants will get sick or die.
  9. Ask for a volunteer to read his or her answer to Question 2 on Master 1.7, Using Nitrogen.
    • Question 2: What could you do to help crop plants grow in soil that doesn&rsquot contain enough usable nitrogen?
    • Answer:Students may suggest adding more microbes to the soil. Try to guide the discussion to the idea of adding nitrogen to the soil in the form of plant food (fertilizer), or occasionally planting legumes that have nitrogen-fixing microbes associated with their roots. If the question arises, be aware that non-crop plants may be adapted to very low nitrogen levels, in which case adding nitrogen would be detrimental.
  10. Ask students to help you summarize where the corn plant gets its essential elements. Likely student responses are the following:
    • Water: Hydrogen and oxygen.
    • Air: Carbon and oxygen.
    • Soil: All essential elements.
  11. Conclude the lesson by summarizing that the plant obtains the nutrients carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from the water and the air, while the rest are obtained from the soil.
  12. Explain that farmers need to know which essential elements are found in the soil and how much of each is present. Ask students to think of where the essential nutrients found in the soil come from.
    • Student responses will vary. At this time, accept all answers. If not mentioned, use guided questions to bring out the fact that nutrient elements in the soil come from multiple sources that include:
      • natural ones, such as the erosion of rocks
      • the action of lightning
      • the decomposition of plant and animal material, including soil organic matter (the dark layer at the soil surface)
      • human-associated activities, such as organic and commercial fertilizer use by farmers and the public as well as from the waste that humans produce and emissions from industry and automobiles

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Like humans and animals, plants also need a balance of nutrients to be healthy.
  • Macronutrients are needed in relatively large amounts. Micronutrients are needed in relatively small amounts.
  • Plants receive most of their nutrients from the soil.
  • Many plants are produced by farmers which provide food for humans and animals. It is important to be knowledgeable of the nutrients plants need.
Enriching Activities

Dietitians use MyPlate to represent a healthy diet, balanced between the six food groups. Plants, too, must take in a balance of nutrients. Instruct students to prepare a &ldquomeal plan&rdquo for plants. Students should recall that plants obtain their essential nutrients from three sources: air, water, and soil. These three sources can be thought of as the plant&rsquos food groups. Refer students to the sources for each essential element that they listed on Master 1.6, Sources of Essential Nutrients. The needed percentages from each food group (source) in their meal plan can be estimated by counting the number of elements from each food group and dividing by the total number of essential elements (17). For example, if a student listed just hydrogen and oxygen as coming from the air, then the percentage of needed nutrients from that group would be 2 ÷17 = 0.12 or 12 percent.

This lesson is the first in a series of five related lessons. Refer to the following lessons for further depth.


Micronutrients

Micronutrients is the second category of nutrients. These are also essential parts of our diet, but they are smaller molecules than the macros, and we don't need them in as high a quantity.

Vitamins, both water- and fat-soluble, and minerals are considered micronutrients, according to Washington State University. There are four fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) and nine water-soluble vitamins (the B-complex vitamins and C), per Colorado State University Extension.

Essential minerals number 16, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, molybdenum, chromium and fluoride. (Good to know: On food labels, the percent of daily value is based on a 2,000-calorie diet.)

Men and women have different vitamin requirements, with variation also based on age. "Females ages 19 to 50 require more iron than their male counterparts due to increased losses through menstruation. Adult males 19 to 50 years of age, meanwhile, require more of vitamins C, K, B1, B2 and B3, as well as the minerals magnesium, zinc, chromium and manganese," notes Michelle Young, RD, LDN, clinical dietitian at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest, Illinois. She adds: "Vitamin D requirements increase as we age due to the higher risk for age-related bone loss and fracture."

A varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts and seeds will generally provide adequate intake of micronutrients. "There comes a need for supplementation only when a deficiency is spotted, such as in iron-deficiency anemia, or vitamin B12 or D deficiencies, which are fairly common," says Young. "Here, a supplementation would be necessary in order to correct the deficiency."

That said, it is definitely possible (and desirable) to get all you need from a healthy, varied diet. Filling your plate with an assortment of colorful foods — say, spinach, tomatoes, butternut squash, blueberries — is a great way to start. And if you've ever been tempted to rely on a multivitamin to pick up the slack when you've fallen off the healthy-eating wagon, it isn't that easy. "Multivitamins will not replace a healthy diet, as they lack other beneficial compounds, such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber and essential fatty acids," says Young.


Do we know a complete list of nutrients that humans must ingest to live? - Biology

Students explore the meaning of essential elements and use periodic tables to compare the elements that are essential to people and plants. Students discover where in the environment plants obtain each of their essential elements.

Estimated Time
Materials Needed

Interest Approach:

  • In Search of Essential Nutrients PowerPoint
  • The Periodic Table, 1 per student
  • 3 colored pencils or highlighters per student
  • In Search of Essential Nutrients PowerPoint
  • Sources of Essential Elements, 1 per student
  • Using Nitrogen, 1 per student
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
Vocabulary Words

macronutrient: a nutrient that must be present in a relatively large amount to ensure the health of the organism. Macronutrients are building blocks used to make essential biomolecules.

micronutrient: a nutrient required in small quantities to ensure the health of the organism. Micronutrients are often used as cofactors for enzymatic reactions.

nutrient: any of 17 essential mineral and non mineral elements necessary for plant growth

Did You Know? (Ag Facts)
  • Plants require 17 essential elements to complete their life cycle.
  • Plants and humans require similar sets of essential elements.
  • Plants obtain their essential elements from air, water, and soil.
Background Agricultural Connections

Plants and Their Essential Elements: All organisms must take in matter from their environment in order to survive. There are 92 naturally occurring elements on Earth. Living things need only a minority of them. For example, humans require about 21 different elements to be healthy. Almost all of the mass of our bodies comes from just six of those elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus , and calcium ). These are the elements used to construct the carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins, and other molecules that make up our cells and carry out their chemistry. Other elements critical to our health are needed in very small amounts. Often, such elements are cofactors required by enzymes to catalyze specific chemical reactions. Regardless of whether elements are needed in large or small amounts, they must be obtained from the environment. Furthermore, it not enough that essential elements are present in the environment they must be available in a chemical form that our bodies can use.

Not surprisingly, the situation in plants is similar. They, too, must carry out thousands of different chemical reactions, many of which are similar to those of humans. Scientists have identified 17 elements that are essential for plants (see Table 9 below) . An element is described as being essential to the plant if the following conditions are met:

  • The element must be required by the plant to complete its life cycle.
  • The element cannot be replaced by another element.
  • The element must be required for a specific biological function.
  • The element must be required by a substantial number of different plant species.

Essential elements can be classified as mineral or non-mineral nutrients. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are classified as non-mineral nutrients because they are obtained from the atmosphere and water. Mineral nutrients can be further classified as being either macronutrients or micronutrients. As the name implies, macronutrients are needed in relatively large amounts. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are called primary macronutrients, while calcium, sulfur, and magnesium are called secondary macronutrients. The rest of the essential elements are called micronutrients because they are needed in small amounts. It is important to note that despite their name, micronutrients are just as essential to plant health as are macronutrients.

Plants absorb most of their essential elements from water in the soil. Usually the essential elements are taken up as a positively charged cation or a negatively charged anion.

The Nitrogen Cycle: Although the atmosphere is about 78 percent nitrogen, plants cannot make use of nitrogen gas (N 2 ). Instead, plants need to obtain their nitrogen by taking up the cation ammonium (NH 4 +) or the anion nitrate (NO 3 &ndash) in the soil. These ionic forms of nitrogen are generated by the breakdown of organic material in the soil or through a process called nitrogen fixation that is carried out by soil microbes. Some crop plants (legumes such as peas, beans, peanuts, and soybeans) live in close association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live in their roots and convert N 2 gas to a form that plants can use. Such crops have a steady source of nitrogen and do not require nitrogen-containing fertilizers.

The nitrogen cycle describes the processes by which nitrogen moves between its various chemical forms. Biological or physical processes can cause these chemical conversions. Four processes are essential to the nitrogen cycle.

  • Nitrogen fixation refers to the process by which atmospheric nitrogen (N 2 ) is converted to nitrogen&ndashcontaining compounds that are usable by plants. Nitrogen fixation can be accomplished through the action of lightning or bacteria in the soil.
  • Ammonification refers to the process by which bacteria and fungi convert decomposed nitrogen-containing compounds into ammonium ions (NH 4 +).
  • Nitrification refers to the process by which bacteria convert ammonium ions into nitrite (NO 2 -). Other bacteria convert nitrite to nitrate (NO 3 -). This is important because nitrites can reach levels that are toxic to plants.
  • Denitrification refers to the process by which bacteria convert nitrates back to N 2 .

So, let us summarize the nitrogen cycle. First, recall that plants cannot use the nitrogen in the air that is so plentiful. When plants and animals die and decompose, they add nitrogen to the soil. Bacteria in the soil convert the nitrogen into compounds that plants can use. Plants take in these nitrogen-containing compounds through their roots and use them to grow. Animals eat the plants, use the nitrogen, and return it to the soil when they die and decompose.

Interest Approach - Engagement

  1. Project the In Search of Essential Nutrients PowerPoint. Explain that scientists who are interested in studying human health must understand the specific needs of the body. Ask students, &ldquoWhat do humans need to live?&rdquo (slide 2) Record student responses on the board. Accept all answers. Students will likely recognize air, water, food, sleep, and environmental conditions such as temperature and pressure, or material items such as clothing and shelter.
  2. Referring to the list generated from step one, ask students, &ldquoWhich of these items come from the environment?&rdquo Students should recognize that most (or all) of the items necessary for survival are obtained from the environment.
  3. Direct the discussion to focus on air (oxygen), water, and food (slide 3). Ask students, &ldquoWhy do we need each of these (air, water, and food) to survive?&rdquo Students should recognize that:
    • Oxygen in the air is needed for cellular respiration.
    • Our cells are mostly made of water and water is the medium in which life has evolved. It is required for the chemistry of life.
    • Food has two critical functions as a source of chemical energy and as a source of chemical building blocks needed by our cells.
  4. Remind students that humans (and animals) eat plants and other animals to obtain chemical energy and provide them with the building blocks needed by their cells. Ask students, &ldquoWhat about plants do plants need food?&rdquo (slide 4) Some students may respond that plants do not need food, because they can obtain energy from photosynthesis. Other students may mention that plants need water or that they obtain nutrients from the soil. If not mentioned by a student, remind the class that fertilizer can be considered &ldquofood&rdquo for plants, because it provides nutrients that plants need to live and grow.
Procedures

Activity 1: Essential Elements

In this activity, students use the periodic table to express their prior knowledge about what plants need to survive. Their predictions are compared to a list of essential elements known to be important to plant health.

  1. Explain that they will now investigate the chemical elements that are essential for plant growth.
  2. Project slide 4 of the PowerPoint titled, An Essential Element. Ask different students to read aloud the criteria that describe an essential element.
  3. Pass out to each student one copy of The Periodic Table. Instruct the class to think about the definition of &ldquoessential element.&rdquo
  4. Project The Periodic Table (slide 6) on your white board, ask for a student volunteer to highlight or outline the elements that are essential for healthy plant growth. If possible, students should think of an example of how a given element is used by the plant (such as the plant using nitrogen to make protein or phosphorus being used to make ATP).
    • Students likely will not be able to suggest a function for elements needed in trace amounts. Many such elements are needed as cofactors for enzymes. It is not important to discuss the uses of each element, but it is important that students understand that these elements are needed to build cell structures and to carry out the cell&rsquos chemistry through enzymatic reactions. This step gives you an opportunity to assess how well students can relate their knowledge of chemistry to biology. For example, students may respond that carbon is used to make carbohydrates, such as sugar.
  5. Have additional students add to the list with their predictions and explanations.
  6. Explain that you are now going to reveal which elements have been shown to be essential for plant growth and compare them with their predictions. Project slide 7 , EssentialElements for Plants.
    • Students likely will be surprised that so many elements are essential for plant growth. The comparison between the elements predicted by the students and the accepted ones should show some overlap. Students should be expected to identify carbon(C), hydrogen(H), nitrogen(N), oxygen(O), phosphorus(P), and sulfur(S) because these elements serve as building blocks for biomolecules. If necessary, ask guiding questions to connect these elements to the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates.
  7. Ask, &ldquoDo you think that humans require the same essential elements as plants?&rdquo Responses will vary. Some students may think that since humans and plants are very different from each other, they will need different sets of elements. Others may reason that since plants and humans are each made of cells that contain similar biomolecules, the essential elements needed by both will be similar.
  8. Project slide 8 , Essential Elements for Humans. Ask students to observe how similar or dissimilar this pattern of elements is compared with that shown previously for plants. Continue to slide 9 and ask the following questions:
    • What is similar?
    • What is different?
    • Are the needs of humans and plants more alike or more different? (similar)
  9. Instruct students to use 3 colored pencils or highlighters and color code their Periodic Table handout indicating which elements are required by humans, which are required by plants, and which are required by both plants and animals.

In this activity, students consider the source of essential elements for plants.

  1. Explain that you will conclude the lesson with a brief activity that explores where plants obtain their essential elements.
  2. Pass out to each student one copy of the handout , Sources of Essential Elements. Explain that the handout lists the 17 essential plant elements. Instruct students to think about where a plant obtains these essential elements. Students should indicate the source&mdashair, water, and soil&mdashfor each element (that is, each chemical element) by checking the appropriate boxes on the handout.
    • For the purpose of this activity, students should think about water as rainfall (before it reaches the ground). It therefore should not include those elements found in soil that may dissolve in water. Students are free to check more than one box for any element. Give students about 5 minutes to complete this task.
  3. Project slide 10 , Sources of Essential Elements on the board. Ask a student volunteer to describe which elements he or she listed as coming from water.
    • Put a &ldquoW&rdquo next to the elements named by the students. Of course, students should mention hydrogen and oxygen. Actually, rainwater may contain small amounts of other elements derived from atmospheric gases and dust particles. Other elements that could be mentioned include C, Cl, N, and S.
  4. Ask another volunteer to describe which elements he or she listed as coming from the air.
    • Put an &ldquoA&rdquo next to the elements named by the students. Students should recognize that the corn plant obtains carbon and oxygen (via CO 2 ) from the air. Some students may know that most of the atmosphere is nitrogen. Most students will not realize that nitrogen gas is not available to the plant in a usable form. Do not correct this misconception yet. This issue will be addressed later. As with water, small amounts of other elements may also be present due to air pollution.
  5. Ask another volunteer to describe which elements he or she listed as coming from the soil.
    • Put an &ldquoS&rdquo next to the elements named by the students. Students should list most if not all of the essential elements. The soil not only contains many elements that reflect its geological history, but it also contains organic material from once-living plants and animals as well as from the abundant life (both macro and micro) that resides there.
  6. Ask students to help you summarize where plants get their essential elements. Students should report the following (slide 11):
    • Water: Hydrogen and oxygen.
    • Air: Carbon and oxygen.
    • Soil: All essential elements.
  7. Ask students to work individually or in pairs to write a short summary before holding a class discussion. This will allow students to gather their thoughts before speaking and for you to assess each student&rsquos understanding.
  8. Explain that nitrogen is an essential element that plants need in relatively large amounts. Pass out to each student 1 copy of the , Using Nitrogen handout. Instruct students to read the description and answer the questions.
  9. After students have completed their tasks, ask them, &ldquoIn light of what you just read, would you change your prediction of where plants obtain nitrogen?&rdquo (slide 12). Students should change their answer, if necessary, to indicate that plants must obtain nitrogen from the soil rather than from the air (slide 13).
  10. Ask for volunteers to read his or her answers to Question 1 and 2 on the , Using Nitrogen handout.
    • Question 1: What do you think is responsible for converting most of the nitrogen used by plants into a usable form?
      • Answer: Students should conclude that bacteria are responsible for fixing most of the nitrogen used by plants. Some nitrogen is also fixed by lightning and industrial processes, but these are much smaller amounts (slide 13).
    • Question 2: Why is this ability of legumes to carry out their own nitrogen fixation important to farmers?
      • Answer: Because the symbiotic bacteria in legumes fix additional nitrogen for plants to use, farmers can be less concerned with replenishing the soil by using nitrogen-containing fertilizers.
  11. Explain that to grow healthy crops, farmers need to know which essential elements are found in the soil and how much of each is present. Ask students to think of where the essential elements found in the soil come from. Student responses will vary. Focus on the following:
    • natural sources, such as the erosion of rocks
    • the action of lightning
    • the decomposition of plant and animal material
    • human-associated activities, such as runoff from fertilizers used by farmers and the public as well as from waste that humans produce and
    • emissions from industry and automobiles.

Activity 3: Humans, Food, and Essential Elements

This activity requires a variety of different food labels and access to the Internet if carried out in the classroom. Alternatively, it can be assigned as homework.

  1. Ask students to recall that plants get their essential elements mostly from the soil. Ask, &ldquoWhat about people? Where do they get their essential elements?
    • Students should respond that people get most of their essential elements from food, though water gives us hydrogen and oxygen just as it does for plants.
  2. Instruct students to obtain a food label from a nutritious food for analysis. Since this activity is concerned with diet and essential elements needed for good heath, food labels should come from healthy foods and not from snacks.
  3. Give each student one copy of the Food Label handout and instruct them to follow the directions.
    • Some elements, including sodium, calcium, and magnesium are listed on food labels. However, most of the ingredients listed on a food label are chemical compounds and not individual elements.
  4. After students have completed their task, ask volunteers to list the essential elements found on their food labels. List them on the board as well as the chemical compound they come from.
  5. Ask if other students found any additional essential elements to add to the list. As before, list the ingredient in which each essential element is found.
  6. Ask students to compare the list of essential elements from their food labels to those shaded as essential on the periodic table on the back of their handout . Students will see that the nutrition facts label on foods includes data about elements, such as calcium, iron, zinc, or manganese content. Students will see that food ingredients are the source of the 6 elements (C, H, N, O, P, and S) that are needed to make important biomolecules when they research the molecular formula. For example, they will see that carbohydrates and fats are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Proteins also contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. Many of the other essential elements that are not structural components of biomolecules are needed as cofactors for enzymes and are present in very small amounts.
  7. Conclude the activity by asking, &ldquoWhat did this exercise teach you about health and diet?&rdquo Students should recognize that their diet needs to contain a variety of foods to supply all the essential elements. Plants, as well as people, need a &ldquobalanced diet.&rdquo

Students link different domains of science fields into a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world.

Patterns: Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.

Energy and Matter in Systems: Tracking energy and matter flows, into, out of, and within systems helps one understand their system's behavior.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Humans and plants need essential elements to live.
  • For plants, the majority of their essential elements are found in the soil.
  • To grow healthy crops, farmers need to know which essential elements are found in the soil and how much of each is present.

This lesson is the first in a series of five related lessons. Refer to the following lessons for further depth:


Nutri-Con: The Truth About Vitamins & Supplements

Web Note: The Organic Consumers Association is proud to announce a new nationwide campaign called "Nutri-Con: The Truth About Vitamins & Supplements." Nutri-Con will expose the hazards and limited effectiveness of synthetic vitamins and supplements, and strive to create mass consumer awareness and marketplace demand for truly organic, "naturally occurring" vitamins, botanicals, and supplements. Part of this campaign will be the implementation of a new set of Naturally Occurring Standards (NOS), certification procedures, and labels which are truly "organic and beyond," and to expose the fact that 90% or more of the vitamins and supplements now on the market labeled as "natural" or "food based" actually are spiked with synthetic chemicals. The first company to meet these new NOS strict standards in the natural supplements sector is Botani Organics

A major underlying theme of this campaign will be to steadily inform and remind consumers that Big Pharma's prescription and over the counter drugs are generally hazardous substances offering no real solution to our health problems while preventive health and wellness promotion, traditional holistic remedies, and complementary medicine practices represent the "organic road" to health. In terms of wellness promotion, there is no doubt that an organic whole foods-based diet and a healthy lifestyle are the "best medicine" for those of us trying to survive and keep our families healthy in the toxic soup of 100,000 synthetic chemicals that surround us everyday, polluting our food, water,medicines, homes, and environment. But as we complement our organic whole foods-based diet with herbs and supplements, we need to make sure that these vitamins and botanicals are derived from naturally occurring plant and mineral sources, and that they contain no synthetic chemicals whatsoever.

Below is the first installment of an eye-opening new book, "Vitamin Myth Exposed," by Brian Clement of the Hippocrates Health Institute, which the OCA will be publishing over the next 60 days. This book is nothing less than the opening salvo in a campaign that OCA believes will revolutionize the $20 billion vitamin and supplements industry. OCA sees this effort as part of our ongoing efforts to establish and safeguard strict organic standards in food and farming, clothing, body care, and other important consumer sectors.

We invite you to please circulate the "Vitamin Myth Exposed," widely to friends and family, and to talk to your local natural foods store or coop about joining forces with the OCA in this important new campaign.

For Health and an Organic Future,
Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association
________________________________________
Vitamin Myth Exposed
By: Brian Clement, Ph.D., N.M.D.

Copyright © 2007 by Healthful Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review nor may any part of this text stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other, without written permission from Healthful Communications, Inc. 13700 US Hwy 1, Suite 202 A, Juno Beach, FL 33408. 561.626.3293 or www.healthfulcommunications.com

As far as the sciences have evolved in our incredible age of quantum physics and our understanding of cell biology, life is still an indefinable mystery. Only Mother Nature can make an apple. Only nature can make a cell. While scientists and chemists continue to try in vain to duplicate in a laboratory the molecular structure of many different isolated natural substances. When you analyze natural compounds with an electron microscope they can look identical, yet in some invisible, yet significant, way they are not. Although scientists can make seawater with exactly the same chemical structure as natural seawater, when you put a salt-water fish in this synthetic environment, the fish dies. What is it in natural seawater that sustains life? This is one of life's great mysteries, and the foundation upon which this book is inspired.

The creation of life is a divine gift that can never be duplicated by man it is beyond human intellect. This is why no living thing, whether a plant or human cell, or a living being for this matter, can be created successfully in a laboratory from chemical compounds. Animal clones have already proven their fallibility. Living things such as living foods and living beings can only be created by nature.

VITA means life. Vita defines the difference between synthetic and what is now known as naturally occurring. This book is about the consequences of this difference in our vitamins and nutritional supplements today, and is further dedicated to helping you understand their impact on your health and how you can become equipped to avoid unhealthful choices and benefit from healthy whole-food choices (N.O.S. - Naturally Occurring Standard - varieties).

Putting the word "natural" on the vitamin label is, in most cases today, deceptive. The word is constantly abused and, as such, its meaning has been diluted to a point where it holds little value. Many misleading labels on supplement products take advantage of the ambiguity of the word "natural" to project a wholesome marketing image, even when the product does not merit it. Whereas the term "naturally occurring" on a label usually means that a vitamin or nutrient is completely derived of compounds from naturally-occurring sources - the plants themselves - rather than merely containing a naturally-occurring ingredient mixed with synthetic ingredients.

The best vitamin supplements are those with labeled potencies derived from naturally-occurring, full-spectrum food extracts. Naturally-occurring vitamins are obtained by taking a nutrient-rich plant, removing the water and the fiber in a chemical-free vacuum process, and packaging it for stability. The entire vitamin complex is captured intact, retaining its functional and nutritional integrity, and a full spectrum of nutritional values.

Another primary difference between real full-spectrum whole-food vitamins and synthetic vitamins is that real vitamins contain the essential trace minerals necessary for the vitamins' synergistic operation. Synthetic vitamins contain no trace minerals and must utilize the body's own mineral reserves. Ingesting real vitamins does not require the body to deplete its own reserves of nutrients to replace any nutrients missing from the false vitamins.

Mega doses of synthetic vitamins can have very serious toxic effects. Naturally-occurring whole-food vitamins are not toxic since the vitamin is complexed in its natural whole integral working form, and requires nothing from the body to "build" a vitamin. When synthetic, or incomplete vitamins are introduced into the body, the body attempts to "build" a complete vitamin complex by adding the missing factors that it knows should be there, specifically minerals and other vitamin co-factors. This "building" process depletes the body's nutritional reserves, creating an overall deficiency. The body has a natural intelligence that is always directing its efforts toward wholeness. When you ingest a "partial" or isolated vitamin, the body assumes you meant to ingest a whole vitamin, and works hard to make up for an action that it views as a mistake. Of course, the body has limitations. When it is saturated or overwhelmed with large amounts of synthetic vitamins or does not possess the cofactors necessary for creating fully-complexed supplements, it cannot convert the incomplete synthetic vitamins. It will then work to eliminate the synthetic vitamins through the kidneys, skin and the other elimination organs. This is the reason why the majority of all synthetic vitamins are quickly eliminated by the body and not utilized. We require our bodies to perform a surprising amount of work when we ingest synthetic supplements. Not only must we effort to create a usable supplement by drawing on our own reserves, we must also labor to eliminate the substances that cannot be utilized. This process results in an overall negative health effect while minimizing any gains that could have been achieved by the supplement were it in a usable form to begin with. This is why consuming whole foods and whole-food supplements is critical.

One of the many superior qualities about naturally-occurring whole food vitamins is that small or even minimal quantities are required daily because they are already whole, naturally-complexed supplements that the body does not have to "build" to utilize. On the contrary, one would typically need to ingest much larger doses of synthetic supplements to receive a sufficient level of supplementation, knowing that many of the complexes will not be "completed" and therefore eliminated.

Mainstream marketing of vitamins and minerals has created the myth that synthetic vitamins and inorganic minerals may be isolated individually and from one another, and that we can derive total natural benefit from taking these fractionated chemical creations. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Real, natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes work closely together as co-factors for each other's efficacy. If one part is missing, or is fractionated, or is in the incorrect form or the incorrect amount, entire chains of metabolic processes cannot and will not proceed normally. Only nature can provide us with naturally-occurring vitamins as found in real, wholesome organic foods.

The overwhelming majority of vitamin products sold in grocery stores, drug stores or mass-marketing retailers contain synthetic ingredients, and are unfortunately accompanied by inherent deficiencies and unpleasant ramifications.

What our bodies require are supplement products made exclusively from naturally-occurring nutrients rather than toxic laboratory synthesized compounds. Currently only a few highly conscious companies produce supplements with naturally-occurring ingredients. These companies should be commended and supported for offering natural health-promoting products to the consumer. (See list of "Supplement product companies that include naturally-occurring potencies on their labels" in Appendix A).

We are grateful to the Naturally Occurring Standards Group (NOSG), Amsar Pvt. Ltd., Treadcorp, Ltd., Hippocrates Health Institute, Healthful Communications, Inc., Organic Consumer's Association, and others for their efforts in establishing "Naturally Occurring" as a specific standard of quality. This standard should be applied for all truly natural vitamins, ingredients and materials for the entire food, beverage, nutraceutical, and cosmetic industry. The adoption of proposed "Naturally Occurring Standard" (NOS) guidelines will bring clarity to all purveyors and consumers of natural products. The NOS is an important step and regulatory guideline that has been missing from the product label information and literature since the beginning of packaged food sales. The NOS symbol on products will help to eliminate the confusion between truly natural and less than natural product ingredients.

We need more naturally-occurring vitamin supplements to counter the vast array of harmful synthetic vitamin supplements flooding our world markets. Consumers must request the production of more naturally-occurring supplements by petitioning the natural foods industry to support the NOS guidelines, which will ensure that the public is only supplied with health-promoting products. This will mark the beginning of a movement to remove synthetic supplements from our health foods and supplements. The natural foods industry is the last place that synthetics should be allowed. Unfortunately, due to ignorance and economic inertia, even the natural foods industry has, until now, tolerated the presence of harmful synthetic supplements. Real nutrients are always naturally occurring, made only by nature and never by an artificial chemical process.

Insisting that the designation "naturally-occurring" be put only on the labels of naturally-occurring vitamin and nutrient supplements, will allow the consumer to once and for all distinguish between what is a real vitamin supplement and what is not. For more information on the NOS guidelines and the proposed legislation visit www.nosg.org.

PART ONE - VITAMIN MYSTERIES AND MYTHS

Nutritional Supplements - do we really benefit from them?

To answer this question we have to go back to our roots - our soil

Soil depletion - an apple isn€„¢t what it used to be

Missing vitamins & trace elements

What are vitamins? Brief definition

Fat vs. water-soluble vitamins

Difference between vitamins and vitamin activity

Difference between natural vs. synthetic

Each year in North American alone people spend over $20 billion on vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, believing that these products are benefiting them. But are they? What is the real truth about vitamins? If we eat a balanced diet, do we really need nutritional supplements? To answer this question we have to go back to our roots - our soil.

The body is unable to manufacture most vitamins for itself, and so they must be obtained from nutritional sources. During the early 1900s, in our grandparents' time, the soil was rich with nutrients that produced healthy, vigorous crops high in vitamin content. Today, due to modern factory farming practices, our soils are sadly laced with industrial pollution, pesticides and chemical fertilizers that not only contaminate the soil, but activate increased soil erosion. Because of poor soil quality and nutrients, our foods have only a fraction of the nutrient value of 70-100 years ago.

Polluted air and water systems deplete our bodies of their store of nutrients, such as antioxidants including vitamins and minerals, that are necessary for protecting our health. Add the stresses of modern life to this and as a population we are left with ever-weakening genetic and immune systems. Therefore, vitamin and nutrient supplementation is more crucial than before.

The mineral depletion of our soils and foods is not news. The U.S. government has been issuing official warnings since 1936. The U.S. Senate Document #264, published by the 2nd session of the 74th Congress in 1936 stated the following:

"Most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until the depleted soils from which our foods come are brought [back] into proper mineral balance. Foods, fruits, vegetables and grains that are now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain needed minerals, are starving us - no matter how much of these foods we eat. Leading authorities state that 99% of the American people are deficient in these minerals, and that a marked deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in disease. Any upset of the balance or any considerable lack of one or another element, however microscopic, causes problems and we sicken, suffer, and shorten our lives. Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless."

This report was offered over 70 years ago. Just imagine how it would read today.

Unfortunately, we all have a big job ahead to restore our soil quality - even on organic farms - and bring back the nutrients that have been farmed out of our food. It is urgent that we reintroduce proper organic farming as the primary method, as well as the rotation of crops to improve the quality of our soils, among other benefits. It has taken many decades to ruin our soils and it will take time to revive them and bring them back to health again. It can be and must be done for ourselves, our children and future generations.

As world citizens we can transform our farmlands one very simple way is by purchasing organic foods and supporting organic farming. In the meantime, the way to guarantee adequate nutrition is by supplementing our foods with naturally-occurring, non-synthetic vitamin and nutrients from organic farms that focus on soil conservation.

Vitamins are organic micronutrients essential to normal human metabolism. Unlike fats, carbohydrates and some proteins, vitamins are not metabolized to provide energy. Most are not manufactured by the body but are present in minute quantities in natural foodstuffs. Each of these naturally-occurring organic vitamin compounds performs a specific vital function and is required by the body for disease prevention and good health.

The known vitamins are divided into four fat-soluble types (A, D, E and K) and nine water-soluble types (eight B vitamins and vitamin C). The fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body and do not need to be ingested every day. The water-soluble vitamins are more easily eliminated and can be taken in larger amounts without danger of toxicity. Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins (except for Vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid) are water soluble. They cannot be stored and must be consumed frequently for optimal health.

As an initial convention, vitamins were given letters to go with their chemically defined names. Not many people know about the form of vitamin E d-alpha tocopheryl succinate, but most people know what "Vitamin E" is and what it can be used for. Some nutritional factors were originally given "B" names but turned out not to act as vitamins at all. You may not have heard of vitamins B-4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 which were ultimately rejected as vitamin factors.

We know that vitamins prevent disease and promote health, but what do we know about the actual quality of the vitamins we ingest? Hundreds of millions of people take a daily vitamin and/or herbal supplement. For more than 70 years we have been ingesting synthetic vitamins in our supplements and our fortified foods, believing that our health is being protected and improved. But is it?

Let's get down to the truth about vitamin supplementation and food fortification. There are currently two categories in the family of vitamin and nutritional products with labeled potencies - synthetic and naturally-occurring.

Nearly all vitamin supplements available today, more than 95%, fall into the synthetic category. Some consist of 100% synthesized vitamins, and some are combination formulas containing one or more naturally-occurring vitamin ingredients combined with synthetic vitamins. Naturally-occurring vitamin supplements are comprised only of naturally-occurring food and botanicals. They contain no synthetic vitamins or nutrients whatsoever. Presently there are few manufacturers of this type of vitamin supplement.

Synthetic vitamin supplements packaged as tablets, capsules, gelcaps, or powders comprise the majority of vitamin products found in natural food stores, grocery stores, drug stores and large retail outlets. Within this category there are certain types and distinctions.

Type 1: In some vitamin supplement products a natural base is used and then the synthetic vitamins or nutrients are added to that natural base. An example of a natural base could be Acerola cherry or Rosehip, and even a mixture of botanicals, as a natural base with the synthetic vitamins and nutrients added. Many Vitamin C products which claim to be from Acerola or some other fruit or food are usually spiked with synthetic ascorbic acid or ascorbates. Many multiple vitamin products use a natural base spiked with multiple synthetic vitamins to get their labeled potencies.

Type 2: Some supplements are derived from specially "grown" materials (referred to as "food source" or "whole food" source) such as yeasts and algae. These products typically combine the yeast or algae and create other "mixtures" as a base to which synthetic vitamins are "spiked" or added. Manufacturers call these supplements "natural" because they are derived from yeast or algae - natural botanicals. However, they are not natural because synthetic vitamins or nutrients have been added to the product. This is most often not mentioned on the product label and is "hidden" from consumers, most of whom, ironically, are reading labels to ensure the highest levels of nutrition. Tragically, they fall prey to misleading and dishonest labeling information.

A manufacturer of this cultivated base which has been spiked with synthetics nutrients will supply their own as well as other supplement companies with this raw substance. They then use the raw substance to produce and market their own vitamins under different product names. The fact that this raw material contains a cultivated, so-called "natural" base enables the vitamin producers to make the claim on their label that they are derived from "natural sources" on their label and contain the listed potencies from the "food source" referring to the base. But as you can now see this is a deceptive practice that misleads consumers to believe that they have a natural supplement.

Most vitamin companies compete for customers with identical synthetic vitamin products made from compounds produced by the same few drug manufacturers. The vitamin companies differentiate their products with different names and fancy labels, each making claims of "high potency". But the higher the potency of the synthetic vitamin or nutrient, the more likely it is to exhibit drug-like, toxic effects, the stress of which can actually lead to disease.

The majority of vitamin companies also purposely mislead the consumer by taking advantage of loopholes in labeling laws. The truth is that the vitamin potencies for most supplements are derived from synthetic vitamins.

Consumers are fooled by the vitamin label claims and believe that the vitamin and nutrient potencies are derived from a natural source. You can avoid this trap by carefully examining the label. Look for the phrase "naturally occurring." If the label does not say "naturally occurring" and also name the food source of the potency, then be aware that the supplement may contain synthetic vitamins or nutrients. Please go to our website www.NOSG.org for a list of companies that are leading the way in NOSG certification, and to see how you can help reverse the tide of deception and take part in this exciting shift in consciousness, which includes mandates for truth in labeling.

The second category of vitamin supplements are derived from naturally-occurring full-spectrum food and botanical sources. These are truly natural vitamin potency supplement products and can be identified by their designation "naturally occurring" or Naturally Occurring Standard (NOS).

Although vitamins from naturally-occurring sources are relatively lower potency, they are actually much more effective at these lower potencies than synthetic vitamins, for the simple reason that the body can easily assimilate their nutrients, and can do so without the toxic side-effects of synthetic vitamins.

Over the past two decades at Hippocrates Health Institute, we have seen the negative impact of synthetic supplements by viewing tens of thousands of blood samples with the assistance of a high-powered microscope. What we know is that the body perceives a synthetic supplement like it would perceive any other foreign chemical as an invader and threat to its survival. As such, it responds by releasing immune-preserving cells such as leukocytes (white blood cells) to combat the enemy and preserve immunity. Unfortunately, this extra activity detracts these cells from their most crucial role of eliminating microbes (viruses and bacteria), spirochetes (such as those that result in Lyme's Disease), and mutagenic cells (such as those that can result in cancer). Consequently, when one introduces a large number of chemical invaders, such as synthetic vitamin supplements, there are fewer immune-preserving cells to combat more deleterious cell activity, resulting in a greater probability for disease.

Just as natural vitamins from food are more effective than synthetic vitamins, so are natural vitamin supplements from whole-food sources. Low potency vitamins from a full spectrum, naturally-occurring source of the vitamin will produce effective nutrient activity, while positively impacting immune function.

Vitamins are biological complexes. They represent multi-step biochemical interactions whose beneficial action depends upon a number of variables within the biological terrain. Correct vitamin activity can only take place when all co-factors and components of the vitamin complex are present and working together synergistically. Vitamins cannot be isolated from their complexes and still perform their specific functions within the cells. When isolated into artificial chemical commercial forms, these purified, isolated, crystalline synthetics act the same as toxic drugs in the body and compromise the immune system, which can ultimately lead to illness and disease. They are no longer actual vitamins, and to call them such is inaccurate. A vitamin is: "a working process consisting of the nutrient, enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, and trace mineral activators." - Dr. Royal Lee

Theron Randolph, MD wrote four books and over 300 medical articles and was a leading researcher in the fields of food and chemical allergies, as well as general preventive care. Dr. Randolph co-founded the American Academy of Environmental Medicine in 1965. Consider the way he has delineated the difference between natural and synthetic nutrients:

"A synthetically-derived substance may cause a reaction in a chemically susceptible person when the same material of natural origin is tolerated, despite the two substances having identical chemical structures. The point is illustrated by the frequency of clinical reactions to synthetic vitamins - especially vitamin B1 and [vitamin] C when the [same] naturally-occurring vitamins are tolerated."

Certain studies on natural vs. synthetic vitamins have shown that synthetic vitamins are 50 to 70% less biologically active than natural vitamins.

Synthetic vitamins are actually just fractions of naturally-occurring vitamins synthesized in the dextro- and levo- forms (known as "right" and "left handed" molecules) which form geometric mirror images of each other. It may seem strange, but the geometry of nutrient compounds is crucial for the bioavailability of the nutrient. The body uses only the levo- forms. Synthetic vitamin compounds have little of the correct geometry (levo-forms) of naturally-occurring vitamins present in food and botanicals.

So, can a synthesized, isolated vitamin fraction made in the laboratory be called a real vitamin? Can it provide you with the nourishment that naturally-occurring, whole-food supplements can? The answer is a resounding and undeniable NO!

Throughout much of the last century, we have been programmed to believe that synthetic chemicals are superior to natural food-source nutritional substances, and therefore an acceptable substitute. This misleading concept is broadcasted mainly by commercial interests who promote this fallacy through sophisticated marketing programs to sell and profit from their inferior "food and nutritional" supplements.

The problems we now have with these synthetic vitamins are parallel to the overall problems we have with pharmaceutical drugs and the development of "modern", alopathic medicine.

In Western cultures, we have abandoned our history of traditional medicine - medicine that has been practiced successfully for thousands of years - and nearly categorically replaced it with new technologies. We are now suffering the consequences of it.

Although chemistry has provided us with many benefits, when it comes to food and nutrition, a better life through chemistry is a fallacy.

We are now in the midst of a chemical "feast" of harmful and polluting chemical preservatives, excipients, colorings, flavorings, additives, and other life-threatening chemicals.

A century ago when we discovered how to chemically synthesize various isolates of natural compounds, synthetic nutrients became fashionable. Many of the problems that we have today developed many years ago when we embraced the chemical paradigm and rejected our time-proven traditional medicinal practices. It is imperative now that we return to our traditional values and ways of living before the hazardous imbalances we have created destroy us.

VITAMIN ACTIVITY & BIOAVAILABILITY

Why is it that only Nature can create a real vitamin? The differences between vitamins extracted from food and those manufactured by chemical processes is vast, and the distinctions are critically important. Vitamins manufactured in the laboratory come to us without the naturally occurring associated factors and trace substances that insure a vitamin's bioavailability. If the body can easily digest and absorb nutrients from a food, then they are said to be bioavailable. Tests on natural vs. synthetic vitamins have revealed that synthetic vitamins are less biologically active and bioavailable than natural vitamins. Since our bodies often do not absorb more than 50% of the vitamins and minerals we consume, to ingest a product that is already less active than its natural counterpart leaves very little of the original potency available for our use.

It sounds like a simple concept: you are what you digest or, more to the point, what you assimilate.

The digestive system of humans, similar to that of apes, grazing animals and other herbivores, is complex. The adult alimentary canal measures up to 36 feet it is long and convoluted. Yet it squeezes into the small space of our abdominal cavity. Many of us assume that we have good and proper digestion and assimilation, and that our bodies can extract nutrients no matter what we eat. This is simply not true, which is why it is important for us to eat wholesome and nutritious foods and maintain high levels of good intestinal flora and other living bacteria that break down our foods completely so that our nutrients can be absorbed.

Furthermore, the human biology has never been able to "digest" synthetic chemicals.

Even though we may voluntarily or involuntarily ingest synthetic chemicals, our digestive systems have not suddenly changed to recognize them as food or nourishment. All the synthetic nutrients in the world are useless, and potentially even dangerous, if they are not digested. The best way to improve digestive absorption of nutrients is to eat good nutrient-rich, living foods and use naturally-occurring vitamins and mineral supplements.

You are what you digest also means that if your digestion is weak, then you absorb fewer nutrients from your food than necessary, which can lead to obesity or other imbalances. When enjoying quality foods, the health of your body and all of its systems are strengthened.

Research with polarized light shows the differences in bioavailability between synthetic and natural vitamins. The experiment involves taking a sample of a natural vitamin and its chemically identical synthetic counterpart, and passing a beam of polarized light through each. The beam passing through a natural vitamin always bends to the right due to the direction of its molecular rotation. When passing through a synthetic vitamin, the beam splits in half. Half the light beam bends to the right, and the other half bends to the left. The direction of the molecular rotation makes half of the synthetic vitamin impossible to use, which is why there is only 50% biological activity or less in synthetic, isolated vitamins. They are lacking the factors found in a full-spectrum real vitamin and more importantly they are not viewed by the body as real nutrition, and are therefore counterproductive to health.

Even if the vitamins you take are "natural" ones extracted from food, they will not be effective if they have been extracted from their full-spectrum matrix. Extracting a vitamin from its full-spectrum matrix eliminates the necessary co-factors which assist in the functioning of that nutrient. When you extract and isolate Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from an orange, you are also removing the bioflavonoids, which are necessary for Vitamin C's complete vitamin activity. It's better to use a full-spectrum concentrate of the whole orange rather than to extract the ascorbic acid or other isolated Vitamin C fractions or to take those factors separately.

For a complex matrix like Vitamin C to be effective, it has to be used as nature created it. Always use a full-spectrum food source supplement of Vitamin C and other supplements to insure that all the naturally-occurring nutrient factors are available to your body.

Worldwide, there is no official government-regulated definition for the term "natural" for use by the natural products industry. In the USA, the FDA refers to natural ingredients as "ingredients extracted directly from plants or animal products, as opposed to being produced synthetically." While it's fine to set a legal definition for natural, the problem is that the FDA's system of standards for vitamins is not based on nature. This system, known as the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) or what has now been updated to "Daily Values" (DV's) and RDI's (Recommended Daily Intake), relates to the amount of vitamins we require daily for maintaining health and is based on the assumed nutrient value of synthetic supplements.

The RDA's, DV's or other "standards" that are generally accepted by most agencies and institutions were originally established through animal testing using synthetic vitamins - supplements that we have already determined as indigestible and severely lacking in nutritional value.

There is a proposal for a new standard for vitamins and nutrients called the: "Naturally Occurring Standard" or "NOS". This standard, which will completely revolutionize the supplement industry, is related to verifiable amounts of naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals or other nutrients as found in natural foods and botanicals.


Reviewer Suggestions

During the submission process, please suggest three potential reviewers with the appropriate expertise to review the manuscript. The editors will not necessarily approach these referees. Please provide detailed contact information (address, homepage, phone, e-mail address). The proposed referees should neither be current collaborators of the co-authors nor have published with any of the co-authors of the manuscript within the last five years. Proposed reviewers should be from different institutions to the authors. You may identify appropriate Editorial Board members of the journal as potential reviewers. You may suggest reviewers from among the authors that you frequently cite in your paper.


Digestive System of a Frog Aptly Explained With a Labeled Diagram

The major organs involved in the process of digestion in frogs include mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and cloaca. Accessory organs such as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are also an important part of the digestive system of frogs. This BiologyWise post provides a labeled frog digestive system diagram to help you understand the digestive process in frogs.

The major organs involved in the process of digestion in frogs include mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and cloaca. Accessory organs such as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are also an important part of the digestive system of frogs. This BiologyWise post provides a labeled frog digestive system diagram to help you understand the digestive process in frogs.

After catching their prey, frogs close their eyes and retract them through the holes in their skull. This helps them push food down the throat.

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Frogs belong to Amphibia class and subphylum Vertebrata, which means that they are a class of vertebrates that live on land, but breed in water. They are a part of Anura order. The term Anura means ‘without tail’, and this taxonomic group comprises frogs and toads. The characteristic features of these amphibians include short bodies, the absence of tail, long hind legs that allow them to leap, webbed fingers and toes, and protruding eyes. The anatomy of frogs has been of interest to humans due to the striking similarities in the organ systems of frogs and humans. Frogs have a single body cavity in the trunk. Referred to as coelom, this body cavity houses all the internal organs. Their head contains the brain, mouth, eyes, ears, and nose.

Like humans, the digestive system of frogs consists of the digestive tract, which in turn comprises organs such as the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and cloaca. Accessory organs and glands such as the tongue, teeth, salivary glands, gastric glands, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder perform functions that are essential for the process of digestion. These organs work in tandem to digest or break down the ingested food into smaller molecules or nutrients, which are easier to absorb and assimilate. These nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream, and utilized by the cells and tissues of the body for carrying out the vital body processes. To get a better understanding of the location of the organs and functions of the digestive system, a labeled diagram of the digestive system of frogs has been provided below.

Major Internal Organs of a Frog

Mouth

The digestive process of frogs starts with ingestion, which involves catching their prey (flies, spiders, worms, slugs, other insects, and smaller animals that can fit into their mouth) with their sticky, cleft or bilobed tongue, and swallowing it. The tip of the tongue is folded backwards. Frogs don’t have strong teeth like humans. They have two sets of teeth in the buccal cavity. They use their maxillary teeth (located in the upper jaw) for holding on to the prey. Their sticky tongue prevents the prey from fleeing. Frogs mostly swallow their prey whole. This process is referred to as deglutition. While doing so, they blink or close their eyes, pushing them down through openings in the skull. This helps to propel the food towards the esophagus. In the buccal cavity, the tongue mixes the ingested food with saliva, which is secreted by the salivary glands. Saliva helps in the conversion of starch to sugar. It must be noted that some frogs don’t have tongues, and they catch their prey and place it in their mouth through their front limbs or legs.

Pharynx and Esophagus

After the food is moistened by the saliva, it moves from the mouth into the pharynx. Thereafter, it moves into the esophagus. As in case of humans, an esophagus is a small tube that is located in the anterior section of the digestive tract. It connects the mouth to the stomach, and acts as a passageway for food. It pushes the food into the stomach, wherein starts the process of breakdown of food into a simpler form.

Stomach

At the end of the esophagus lies a muscular sac called stomach. It performs the function of storing food. Enzymes secreted by the gastric glands present in the walls of the stomach facilitate the breakdown of food. Stomach acid and other digestive fluid or enzymes facilitate the breakdown of food. Thereafter, chyme (semi liquid mass of partially digested food) moves along the digestive tract through the process of peristalsis. Peristalsis involves muscular contractions of the smooth muscle tissue in the walls of organs of the digestive system. Between the stomach and the small intestine lies an opening called pylorus. The movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine is regulated by pyloric sphincter valve.

Small Intestine and Accessory Organs

The absorption of nutrients takes place in the small intestine, which is integral to the process of digestion. It is supported or held in place by a fold of membranous tissue called mesentery. This tissue prevents the movement of the small intestine in the abdominal cavity. The partially digested food moves into the small intestine, which is divided into duodenum and ileum. Duodenum almost runs parallel to the stomach, whereas the coiled section of the small intestine is referred to as the ileum. In the small intestine, bile and pancreatic juice aid in the process of digestion. Bile is a digestive fluid that is produced by the liver. The largest organ present in the body cavity, the liver comprises three lobes. Gallbladder is a small sac that is located under the liver. It acts as a reservoir for bile. Bile helps in the digestion of fat, whereas proteins and carbohydrates are broken down into simpler molecules by the enzymes (trypsin, lipase, amylase, chymotrypsin, etc.) produced and secreted by the pancreas. Bile and pancreatic juice flows through the common bile duct into the small intestine. After the absorption of nutrients, the undigested food moves into the large intestine.

Large Intestine and Cloaca

Just like humans, the large intestine in frogs also stores the undigested food. It performs the function of absorbing water from the food residue. The solid waste moves towards the cloaca. Water or liquid waste moves to the urinary bladder. Solid as well as liquid waste is expelled out of the body through the cloacal opening.


Introduction

Over the last few decades, biomedical science has evolved from a state where all microorganisms are considered health threats towards a better understanding of the importance of microorganisms in supporting and maintaining important physiological functions of the host. It is now commonly accepted that the microbiome is important for human health and that alterations in composition, relative abundances or constituents can lead to disease. To influence the microbiome with the intention to maintain or improve health, it is critical to better understand this microbiome–host relationship. Large-scale research programs such as Meta Hit 1 or the Human Microbiome Project 2 have allowed the identification of new strains and/or new microbial functions useful in the development of potential prophylactic or therapeutic applications.

Although this concept seems very recent, the idea to improve human health by impacting the gut microbiome is not novel, as in 1907, Metchnikoff already stated: “The dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes” 3 . This concept was the basis for the early “probiotic” concept, much later officially defined by WHO/FAO in 2001 4 .