Nutrients...and why they’re important

gffbcAt Good Food for Bad Cooks, we focus not on the calories we eat, but on the nutrients that come with them! We want to change the way the world looks at food, one meal at a time.

The nutrients listed below are critical, but because we take a whole-food approach to what we eat, we DON’T recommend supplementing with them. Seek these nutrients as part of whole, real foods (the kind of food we use on this site)! Nutrients work together in ways science is just beginning to discover, and eating them as part of their “whole food source” preserves that synergy.

Here are the nutrients we love – and what they can do for the body!

Fat-soluble Vitamin A (Retinol)

What it is

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s often confused with Carotenoids, which is the type of “pre-vitamin A” found in vegetables like carrots, tomatoes and peppers. The human body can sometimes convert carotenoids to vitamin A, but not always very efficiently. While fruits and veggies rich in carotenoids are wonderful, vitamin A as Retinol is a totally different animal (literally)! It’s only found in animal products!

What it does

Vitamin A is a critical nutrient for skin health, eye health, muscle building, fetal development, immune system health, and fertility, but it’s gotten a bad name thanks to misconceptions about vitamin A toxicity. In nature, vitamin A comes packaged right along with the nutrients that enhance its benefits and prevent toxicity (vitamins D and K2) – so there’s nothing to worry about.

Where it’s found

Vitamin A, as a fat-soluble vitamin, comes packaged with fat, and can be found in:

  • egg yolks
  • fat from properly raised animals (like ghee and butter)
  • organ meats (just try some! They’re not so bad)
  • shellfish
  • Green Pastures Blue Ice Royal cod liver oil-butter oil blend

 

Fat-soluble Vitamin D

What it is

Vitamin D is an amazing fat-soluble vitamin that we can obtain from several animal foods (the vitamin D found in some mushrooms is a totally different form) but most amazing is the fact that our own bodies can generate it through the action of the sun hitting our skin!

What it does

Vitamin D is critical for immune system health, healthy metabolism, and is even thought to prevent cancer. It works WITH vitamins A and D in the body, according to Dr. Chris Masterjohn, a nutrition scientist and fat-soluble vitamin expert, so all three nutrients are important.

Where it’s found

The best sources of fat-soluble vitamin D are:

  •  shellfish
  • cod liver oil
  • raw milk from pasture-raised animals
  • lard from pasture-raised pigs
  • smart sun exposure (for more information, please consider reading Eat the Yolks, which has an entire section devoted to myths & truths about the sun and our skin).

Fat-soluble Vitamin K2

What it is

This is a newly-discovered vitamin whose properties were just identified only decades ago; it appears to be “the missing link” in many modern health problems!

What it does

Vitamin K2 is vital for skin health, bone health (it helps tell calcium where it needs to go), immune system health (it works WITH vitamins A and D to keep us healthy) and cardiovascular health (it appears to help prevent arterial calcification). WOW!

Where it’s found

Vitamin K2 is found ONLY in the fats of properly raised grazing animals actively eating their natural diets and some seafood.

  • Butter
  • ghee
  • organ meats
  • shellfish
  • Green Pastures Blue Ice Royal cod liver oil-butter oil blend

B Vitamins

What they are

B vitamins are incredibly important water-soluble vitamins that are as critical as they are easily depleted by the stressors of modern life. They can be depleted by stress, birth control use, high sugar intake, and poor digestion – so it’s important to keep ‘em flowing in.

What they do

Like the fat soluble vitamins, B vitamins work together. In particular, B vitamins support energy production, metabolism, skin, hair and nails, and play a part in every behind-the-scenes bodily process.

Where they’re found

B vitamins are abundant in:

  • animal protein
  • seafood
  • organ meats (especially liver)
  • and some mushrooms
  • They’re also found in lesser amounts in other plant foods.

Note: B12 is the most critical B vitamin, and plays an active role in every bodily process – including the health of the nervous system. The active form of B12 is found ONLY in animal foods. Deficiency of B12 can worsen the symptoms of other B vitamin deficiencies. A reliable supply of B12 is absolutely critical to human health.

 

Vitamin C

What it is

Vitamin C is a critical water-soluble vitamin that is – surprise! – not just found in orange juice! It’s easily destroyed by light and heat, so fresh sources are important.

What it does

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is critical for collagen formation, tissue repair, and support in times of stress.

Where it’s found

  • fresh fruits and vegetables (lemons are a great source)
  • adrenal glands (for the brave).

Zinc

What it is

Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential for the health of every functioning cell. It works with vitamin A, as well as other trace minerals, to serve its function in the body.

What it does

Zinc supports the immune system, supports fetal development and fertility, regulates oil production in the skin, and even helps the body keep healthy collagen and elastin.

Where it’s found

While it’s found in both plants (nuts, seeds, and legumes) and animals, the zinc in animal products and seafood is most available to the human body. Oysters, crab, beef, red meats, poultry and eggs are the best sources of zinc.

Calcium

What it is

we often associate calcium with bone health, but it’s more complex than that. Calcium is mostly stored in our bones, but it requires other minerals to function: Magnesium, vitamin D, and even adequate fat in the diet are required for calcium to do its job. To support bone health, adequate physical exercise is also critical (we recommend lots of walking).

What it does

Calcium provides the structure for our bones and teeth, but it also serves as an electrolyte and helps our nervous and hormone systems function.

Where it’s found

Contrary to popular belief, calcium is not just found in milk. It’s found abundantly in homemade bone broth, sardines, and leafy greens. If sourcing calcium from dairy products, it’s important to choose wisely: locally raised, grass-fed, raw sources (where legal) are best. (For more information on myths and truths about raw milk, check out Eat the Yolks or RealMilk.com.)

Magnesium

What it is

Magnesium is an under-appreciated mineral that works with calcium and vitamin D. It can be depleted by stress and birth control use.

What it does

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of metabolic functions, energy production, DNA synthesis, and antioxidant synthesis, and cell signaling. For many people, magnesium is the “missing link.”

Where it’s found

Magnesium is found in homemade bone broth, deeply colored leafy green vegetables, nuts, sea vegetables and nettles. Epsom salt baths also provide magnesium.

Other Nutrients

While these nutrients are less well-known, they’re still amazing for the body!

CoQ10

Amazing for heart and skin health and found in sardines, beef and beef heart.


Sulfur

Supports the immune system, cell health, and reduces inflammation; found in egg yolks, garlic, onions, leafy greens, crucifers, and sea vegetables.


Chromium

Known as “glucose tolerance factor,” chromium – which is found In onions and animal products (especially liver) can help balance blood sugar.


Taurine

A little-known nutrient that may improve immune and skin health. Research is ongoing!


Selenium

An anti-oxidant that also supports thyroid health and skin elasticity, found in animal products, some mushrooms, brazil nuts and eggs.


Iodine

Iodine is a trace element that is critical for synthesis of thyroid hormones. It’s rich in seafood and sea vegetables, as well as high-quality milk (raw, pasture-raised).


Carotenoids

While different from vitamin A, still provide lots of nutrition to the body by virtue of the foods they travel with – brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, which are sources of healthy fiber and phytonutrients. Carotenoids also function as antioxidants, which may benefit the skin, the cardiovascular system, and the eyes (although most of their benefits are associated with their potential to convert to vitamin A).