The Nine "Nutrient Thieves" That Put Your Health at Risk
Your natural health requires a constant intake of essential nutrients. It's no health secret that eating nutrient-rich, fresh foods is a vital way to stay healthy. But did you know that nutrients can just disappear?
Certain things can either strip food of its nutritional value or deplete your body's supply of any number of essential vitamins and minerals. This information is important when you are shelling out money for supplements to boost your nutrient levels, or if you have made significant dietary changes in order to get the most out of your food.
It's difficult to generalize and give an overall list of the things that cause you to lose nutrients. This is because many different factors will deplete certain minerals and specific vitamins, while leaving others untouched. But in any event, take a close look at what follows. The most susceptible nutrients to depletion are folic acid, magnesium, and calcium. They are working against you, hurting your level of nutrients, and leaving you more prone to disease because of it.
1. Processed foods: This one is the biggest source of lost nutrients. If you choose processed grains/white flour over whole grains, your body is being robbed of nutrients. When technology entered the food industry, manufacturers made softer bread, pastries, and cakes that had longer shelf lives. When a grain is processed, its fiber and nutrition germ is removed to create a finely ground flour. Choose products from your bread and cereals food group with careful scrutiny -- aim for whole grains, all the time.
2. Diuretics: Simply put, diuretics are used to promote more urination. They have a direct impact on your potassium levels, and are classified either as "potassium- depleting" or "potassium-sparing," depending on what they do. You should pay close attention to this. Researchers have found that diuretics also lower your level of folic acid -- dramatically. For this reason, they suggest if you take diuretics, you should supplement with folic acid as well.
3. Stress: Stress exerts devastating consequences on your body, including your ability to absorb and use vitamins and minerals. Prolonged stress causes gastrointestinal problems and excessive stomach acid, disrupting chemical processes and enzyme activity.
4. Antibiotics: These, as we all know, are drugs used to kill bacteria. Using antibiotics over the long term can deplete your body's store of essential nutrients -- notably vitamins B2, B9, B12, and K. Antibiotics may reduce vitamin K levels especially, and the body's ability to absorb it. It's generally accepted now that we have been overusing these drugs for a long time, so only get a prescription if you truly need it.
5. Alcohol: This is a big one. Consuming alcohol is well known to deplete the body of vitamins and minerals. It basically disrupts your absorption of nutrients from food, and the metabolism of nutrients in your cells. This is true of the majority of vitamins and minerals. In some cases, alcohol actually stimulates your body into getting rid of nutrient -- calcium and magnesium, most notably. Don't drink within one hour of taking supplements. And know that when you drink, your body loses nutrients and has a harder time obtaining them from food and supplements.
6. Caffeine: Caffeine acts like a diuretic in your body, and as such can cause nutrient depletion. It can interfere with the absorption of several minerals and B vitamins, too. Most notably, it is believed that caffeine intake can cause calcium loss in your bones if you don't get enough of this vital mineral in food or supplements.
7. Mineral oil: This particular laxative is primarily used to soften stools in people who have constipation, thus making bowel movements easier. Unfortunately, mineral oil has a major impact on nutrients in your body. Researchers have discovered that it interferes with the absorption of a slew of various minerals and vitamins, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamins D, E and K. It may be best to take this on an empty stomach to prevent a loss of absorption. A multivitamin/mineral supplement may be in order if you use mineral oil regularly.
8. Cooking methods: The way you cook fruit, vegetables, rice, meat, and fish can lower the nutrient levels. Removing skin off fruits and veggies or overcooking them will deplete valuable vitamins and minerals (especially boiling them). Overcooking whole grain pasta will also result in lost nutrients.
9. Antacids: This common over-the-counter group of drugs can disrupt levels of several minerals and vitamins in your body if used for too long.
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About the author
Dr. Victor Marchione received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years.
Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The Food Doctor newsletter.
Dr. Marchione has also served as Principal Investigator in at least a dozen clinical research projects relating to serious ailments such as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).