Vitamins and Minerals in Nature
List of Foods High in Minerals
Like vitamins, minerals help your body grow and stay healthy. Your body needs minerals to perform different functions, from building healthy bones to transmitting electrical impulses along nerves. In fact, some minerals help maintain a normal heart beat and make hormones. Since minerals are an essential part of a healthy diet, it is important to learn which foods are good sources of these nutrients.
Foods Rich in Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium
Your muscles, kidneys and heart require magnesium to function optimally. Good dietary sources of magnesium include legumes, whole grains, wheat bran, soybean flour, whole-wheat flour, oat bran, spinach, beet greens, green leafy vegetables and Swiss chard. Your body uses calcium to form and maintain strong bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include cheeses, kale, cabbage, turnip greens, bok choy, broccoli, dark leafy greens, kelp, dried figs, sardines, canned salmon, oysters, hazelnuts, yogurt, milk and cottage cheese. Potassium ensures that your digestive and muscular systems perform their assigned functions effectively. Foods such as potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, orange juice, bananas, cantaloupes, cod, flounder, salmon, chicken and other meats contain decent amounts of potassium.
Foods Rich in Sodium, Phosphorus and Chloride
Sodium helps control your blood volume and blood pressure. Good sources of sodium include table salt, milk, beets and celery. Along with calcium, phosphorus helps build strong bones and teeth. Foods that contain substantial amounts of phosphorus include eggs, dairy products, fish, meat, poultry, legumes and nuts. Chloride helps maintain proper balance of fluids in your body. Tomatoes, lettuce, seaweed, rye, olives, table salt and celery contain high levels of chloride.
Foods Rich in Iron, Manganese and Zinc
Iron is a component of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the cells throughout your body. Dried peas and beans, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains contain good amounts of iron, as do lean red meat, shellfish, poultry, fish, liver and other organ meats. Your body needs manganese to make sex hormones, blood-clotting factors, connective tissue and bones. Pineapples, wheat germ, nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes are rich dietary sources of manganese. Zinc plays a vital role in reproduction, vision, growth, blood clotting, smell and the immune system. Black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, lima beans, whole grains, pumpkin, mushrooms, cooked greens, tahini and sunflower seeds are good sources of zinc.
Foods Rich in Iodine and Chromium
Your body synthesizes thyroid hormones with the support of iodine. Thyroid hormones contribute to normal growth and development. Great sources of iodine include lima beans, soybeans, garlic, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, seafood, spinach, turnip greens and summer squash. Chromium helps enhance the function of a hormone called insulin, which plays a fundamental role in regulating blood sugar levels. Your body uses insulin to convert sugar and starches into the energy it needs to carry out daily functions. Brewer's yeast, oatmeal, mushrooms, asparagus, whole grains, organ meats, nuts and prunes have high amounts of chromium.
Foods Rich in Copper, Selenium and Molybdenum
Enriched cereals, navy beans, lentils, soybeans, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and organ meats are rich sources of copper. Selenium contributes to the proper functioning of your immune system and thyroid gland. Excellent sources of selenium include shellfish, butter, fish, wheat germ, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts. Molybdenum plays an important role in various biological processes, including the production of energy in cells, the development of the nervous system and the processing of waste in the kidneys. The best choices for molybdenum include legumes, such as peas, lentils and beans, grain products and nuts.
The full version of Nancy's Vitamin and Minerals in Nature Lecture is in the video below:
Modern mankind, used to that bottle of vitamin pills being handy and cheap, or used to a wide variety of foods in our stores, will likely not be prepared for the deficiency diseases that can develop during a time of catastrophe and shortages.
In the modern world, we are used to thinking of that glass of orange juice at breakfast, or at least a vitamin pill, to give us our daily dose of Vitamin C. If not orange juice, then perhaps a fruit salad at lunch. Certainly fruits such as citrus, kiwi, papayas, pineapple, and berries are very high in Vitamin C.
But what if catastrophe has struck and delivery of these fresh fruits are not possible? You’ve consumed your last can of frozen orange juice, taken your last vitamin pill. Orange and lemon trees not grown in your region. What to do? If you are lucky enough, or wise enough, to have a garden, during the growing season you can rely upon strawberries in season and tomatoes, as well as bell peppers.
Before you doze off and think this is all merely a matter of growing yummy things in your garden, let me delve into the dangers of a Vitamin C deficiency. Remember, you may not be able to garden, temporarily, and you may have a hard winter to survive when fresh produce is not at hand. What if, as in days of yor, you were at sea eating salted pork and biscuits, and developed scurvy?
Scurvy causes lethargy, skin spots, bleeding gums, loss of teeth, fever, and death. British sailors consumed limes to the extent that the sailors were nicknamed ‘limeys’. The early symptoms of scurvy include spongy and bleeding gums, pain in the joints, and blood spots appearing under the skin. As the disease progressed, the teeth would become loose, extreme bad breath would develop, the afflicted would become too weak to walk, and would die “mid-sentence,” often from a burst blood vessel.
Many of the early explorers from Europe lost great numbers of men to scurvy: Vasco de Gama lost 116 out of 170 men in 1499, and in 1520, Magellan lost 208 out of 230. The vast majority were due to scurvy. Scurvy is fatal, and a miserable way to go.
Now that I have your attention, here are a few solutions. Citrus and fruits may be yummy, but they are not the highest in Vitamin C content. Leafy vegies and cabbage cousins are just as good, if not better. Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are among the highest in Vitamin C, in fact, higher than orange juice. And they store well. These plants survive in a root cellar, a cool place, which in any case is necessary as they are biennial and only go to seed in their second year. Heat kills Vitamin C, so eating raw is best. Why do you think cole slaw is so popular?
Kale cousins are also sky high in Vitamin C. Kale comes in many forms, but as a biennial needs to be wintered over in a sheltered bed or a root cellar. Kale can reportedly be found green and alive under the snow. This is a salad green, so eating raw for the highest Vitamin C content is a natural.
If you’ve failed to start your garden early and lack the skill or seeds for kale and cabbage cousins, there are annuals that are high in Vitamin C too. Both green and snow peas are high in Vitamin C. You can eat the pods and leaves too. We throw too much of our garden produce away.
Time for a trivial question. The Eskimos don’t garden. They don’t import citrus and have not traditionally taken Vitamin pills. How do they avoid scurvy? The Eskimo diet is eaten almost entirely raw. Inside those igloos, there may be a lamp of burning whale oil, but they’re not having a barbecue. The Eskimo get their Vitamin C from raw meat, skin, and the livers of seals and fish.
In fact, almost all life forms manufacture Vitamin C. Only humans, some apes, bats and guinea pigs and a scattering of birds and fish do not and must rely on their diet. Among the monkeys, the tarsiers and the simians cannot manufacture their own, and this branch of the monkey tree includes humans. Sorry Creationists, there’s that link again. Sorry to say, survivalists, bugs do NOT contain Vitamin C.
So let’s say you’re in a catastrophic situation, no vitamin pills, no traditional garden produce, wildlife hunted almost to extinction, and you’re starting to get bleeding gums. Weeds are your answer. Many many plants that are considered weeds are sky high in Vitamin C, and if Winter is coming, one can dry to store them. Drying foods is one of the best preservation techniques. Or take some plants indoors with you and keep them on the windowsill. Sheep sorrel is a ground hugging leafy plant like grass and grows throughout Europe and N America. I purchased seed for my garden and was surprised to find I already had it in my lawn! Right under my nose. It is a very low light plant, requiring little sunlight.
Scurvy Grass, from northern climes like Scotland and Scandinavia, is notoriously high in Vitamin C, thus its name. Get some seed, and grow it in your window box. These northern climes are not noted for high sunlight, so Scurvy Grass is another lowlight plant.
Dandelion leaves also contain Vitamin C. If you are trapped in suburbia, head down to that neighbor who never killed the weeds in his yard. He’s the one whose got the weeds, and likely plenty of seed waiting to sprout in the spring. The dandelion is our friend. An entirely edible plant by the way, as is cattail and stinging nettle and plantain and most all other weeds.
And if your situation is so dire that you are out of weeds, don’t forget the spice cabinet. Hot Peppers are very high in Vitamin C, even dried. Drying does not ruin Vitamin C. Heat does. Horseradish is also a very good source. You can grow this in your garden and store it in the root cellar, too.
And surprise, surprise, the lowly potato is another low-light high Vitamin C plant! Potato is easy to grow, and may even spring from the ground year after year from unharvested potatoes if you live in a mild climate. In the Spring, potatoes kept indoors sense it is time and the buds in the potato start to sprout. Cut the potato up so there is a sprout on each piece, and plant in a well-watered area. My grandmother used to plant along the river bank.
The B Vitamin complex are vitamins that are found broadly in foods. One almost has to work at it to avoid them, for this reason. They are found in meats, fish, nuts, grains, dairy like eggs and milk, and vegetables and fruits. Deficiency diseases appear, thus, where there is a limited diet or refined foods are the mode. Sometimes a deficiency disease is caused by sheer stupidity.
Take for instance Beriberi, a deficiency of Vitamin B1, which is also known as thiamin. Beriberi occurred almost exclusively amongst the richer members of society who insisted on white rice. Vitamin B1 is found in cereal grain husks. The poor ate brown rice. The rich then came down with weakness, pain, weight loss, difficulty walking, and emotional disturbances. Beriberi became one of the leading causes of death in the region.
If you are in a distressed situation and foraging for food, you’re not likely to be picky about white rice and white bread, although if subsisting on bags of white rice in your bunker you might get a thiamin deficiency. Vitamin B1 is found in beans and nuts however, so a beans and rice diet in your bunker would probably not be deficient.
But here’s a happy note, most insects are rich in Vitamin B1, particularly flies, caterpillars, and crickets. They have more Vitamin B1 than beef, and are also rich in protein and fats! If you are foraging, and collecting grass seeds from wild grass or the grass in your now uncut suburban lawn, you might be covered as well.
Vitamin B2 is known as riboflavin, and is found in a wide variety of foods. Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese, asparagus, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, chicken, fish, and eggs. Oh, right, that’s fine if you’ve got your garden established, a flock of free range chickens, and have all that in hand. But what if you have just escaped from the city, or are just starting out with a garden and flock? It takes a year before the hens start laying.
Then you might get aribo-flavinosis! Bright pink tongue, cracked lips, throat swelling, bloodshot eyes, and low red blood cell count. Ultimately this can cause coma and death. True deficiencies are rare in today’s world, but about 10% of people in developed countries live in a state of slight deficiency, thought to be from a diet of highly processed foods. There’s that fast food highly refined diet again!
Bugs to the rescue again! I quote from Rumpold and Schlüter (2013) who compiled nutrient compositions for 236 edible insects. “Although significant variation was found in the data, many edible insects provide satisfactory amounts of energy and protein, meet amino acid requirements for humans, are high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and are rich in micronutrients such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc, as well as riboflavin,
pantothenic acid, biotin and, in some cases, folic acid.” Note the list included riboflavin, which is Vitamin B2.
And another quote, from Bukkens (2005) who showed for a whole range of insects that thiamine (vitamin B1) had up to 4 mg per 100 g of dry matter. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) had up to 8.9 mg per 100 mg. By comparison, wholemeal bread provides up to 0.19 mg per 100 g of B1 and B2, respectively.” Insects will provide your Vitamin B1 and B2 vitamins. Way way more than wholegrain breads.
Vitamin B3 deficiencies again fall into the category of stupid dietary practices. Or lazy. Vitamin B3 is niacin, and can be found in fish and legumes, but is completely lacking in corn. After the discovery and exploration of the Americas, corn was grown by settlers and all around the world. So tasty, and so easily dried and stored! Pellagra, a deficiency disease, causes diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and finally death. After thousands of deaths, it was discovered that a strict corn diet and a lack of fresh meat was the problem. China, parts of Africa, Indonesia, and North Korea all have endemic pellagra among their lowest classes.
Are you stuck without fresh fish and legumes. Just that box of cornmeal in your cupboard? Earthworms to the rescue! Earthworms are a cousin to fish, which is high in Vitamin B3. Earthworms have omega-3 as their essential oil, as does fish oil. They also are high in Vitamin B3 per an analysis of earthworm powder feed for livestock. And earthworms, which grow in your compost pile or, dare I say it, in any manure pile, are sky high in protein too. I’ve eaten them, and believe me, they taste just like chicken. Insects are also high in Vitamin B3.
A deficiency in Vitamin B5 does not appear unless the individual is starving, or on a very restricted diet. This causes chronic paraesthesia, a numbing sensation, like pins and needles or a limb falling asleep. Vitamin B6 is also involved with nerve health, best known to me as a cure for Carpal Tunnel. I can attest that this works, clearing up that shooting pain up the arm within a couple days. Vitamin B6, is involved
in the formation of myelin, a protein layer that forms around nerve cells.
Vitamin B7 deficiency is another little seen deficiency as B7 is found in so many foods. It causes rashes, hair loss, anaemia, and mental conditions including hallucinations, drowsiness, and depression. Apparently, as with the solid corn diet or exclusively white rice diet, this deficiency, known as biotin, can be caused by an exclusive diet of raw eggs, as some fad diets promote. Cooking the eggs releases the Vitamin B7. Chicken farmers beware. Cook your eggs. And eat bugs, they contain Vitamin B7 too.
Vitamin B9, folic acid, can be a serious deficiency, especially in a pregnant woman, as Vitamin B9 is involved in the development of the fetus brain and spinal cord. Birth defects such as spinal bifida can result. Folate has the same root as the word foliage, and folic acid is found liberally in greens such as spinach and turnip greens.
If you don’t have a garden, for heaven’s sake don’t overlook the weeds! Folate is found in all leafy greens. Wild greens, such as dandelion, lamb’s quarter, amaranth, and stinging nettle are especially rich in folate. Lamb's Quarters also has triple the amount of calcium when compared to spinach.Stinging nettle is high in iron. Stinging nettle, by the way, does not sting after cooked in the steamer. Wear gloves when picking, however.
Animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B12. This includes shellfish, such as clams, mussels and crab, and fish as well as dairy products. Vegans are susceptible to a B12 deficiency, which causes gradual brain damage and expresses as fatigue, irritability, depression, or bad memory. This damage is irreversible. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and can last for years before deficiency sets in. Unfortunately, insects are very low in Vitamin B12. Mankind is an omnivore, so act like one, vegetarians. Eat a fish now and then.
Vitamin A includes beta-carotene, so it is no surprise that carrots are one of the best sources, as are the cabbage cousins and sweet potato. These food store well through the winter in a root cellar, and should certainly be part of your garden population. Carrots and cabbage are biennial, going to seed their second year, and sweet potatoes like regular potatoes need to be grown from cuttings, a budding piece of the potato. But if in a pinch, once again bugs to the rescue. Per Bukkens (2005), Retinol and carotene content of many insect species is high, with levels in some species as high as 1,800 g/kg.
Vitamin A deficiency is most notable for its effect on the eyes. According to the World Health Organization, a lack of vitamin A is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Conjunctivitis, eye infections, and a damaged cornea young in life. It also expresses as hyperkeratosis, excessive skin growth. Unlike Vitamin C and the B Vitamins, which the body flushes so is in excess of what one needs, one can get too much Vitamin A, from liver or pills, but not from eating too many carrots.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, as exposure of the skin to sunlight for a few minutes a day allows you to produce this. Even if your skies are overcast, sunlight comes through. Mushrooms are high in Vitamin D, and mushrooms can be grown in the dark, on manure. Dairy products also are high in Vitamin D, so milk, butter, eggs, and cheese. Cow liver and fish also. But regardless of your dietary Vitamin D, you need sunlight to make your Vitamin D available to your body. You need both.
Rickets is a deficiency disease caused by a lack of Vitamin D. Rickets causes muscles and bones to become soft, which can cause permanent deformities in children. Vitamin D is required for calcium to be properly absorbed into bones to strengthen them. Vitamin D itself is obtained from many foods but the body can only use it if it has been converted into its active form via sunlight. It is estimated that 40% of the world’s population is affected by a Vitamin D deficiency.
It is valuable in meatless diets since it is a good source of vegetable protein. Like most land vegetables, seaweed contains vitamins A (beta carotene) and C. It is also rich in potassium, iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium, which are minerals concentrated in seawater. Seaweed is also one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin B-12. source
For those who will find themselves near coastlines there are even types of seaweed that can be eaten. http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y4765e/y4765e0b.htm
Nori grows as a very thin, flat, reddish blade (Figure 47), and is found in most temperate intertidal zones around the world, illustrated by its history of being eaten by the indigenous peoples of northwest America and Canada, Hawaii, New Zealand and parts of the British Isles.
"Sea lettuce" adequately describes a thin green seaweed, a species of Ulva, that appears in the mid to lower eulittoral zone. It is collected from the wild and sometimes added to the above two seaweeds as part of aonori. It has a higher protein content than the other two, but much lower vitamin content, except for niacin, which is double that ofEnteromorpha.
Laminaria species contain about 10 percent protein, 2 percent fat and useful amounts of minerals and vitamins, though generally lower than those found in nori. For example, it has one-tenth the amounts of vitamins and niacin, half the amount of B1 but three times the amount of iron compared with nori. Brown seaweeds also contain iodine, which is lacking in nori and other red seaweeds.
Wakame has a high total dietary fibre content, higher than nori or kombu. Like the other brown seaweeds, the fat content is quite low. Air-dried wakame has a similar vitamin content to the wet seaweed and is relatively rich in the vitamin B group, especially niacin; however, processed wakame products lose most of their vitamins. Raw wakame contains appreciable amounts of essential trace elements such as manganese, copper, cobalt, iron, nickel and zinc, similar to kombu and hiziki.
Hiziki (Hizikia fusiforme)
The protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamin contents are similar to those found in kombu, although most of the vitamins are destroyed in the processing of the raw seaweed. The iron, copper and manganese contents are relatively high, certainly higher than in kombu. Like most brown seaweeds, its fat content is low (1.5 percent) but 20-25 percent of the fatty acid is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Mozuku (Cladosiphon okamuranus) is a brown seaweed that is harvested from natural populations in the more tropical climate of the southern islands of Japan (Kagoshima and Okinawa Prefectures). Cladosiphon grows in the sublittoral, mainly at depths of 1-3 m. In the 5-6 months from late October to April it grows from 1-2 cm to its full size of20-30 cm. It prefers reef flats in calm water, although a moderate water current is needed to supply sufficient nutrients.
Sea grapes or green caviar (Caulerpa lentillifera)
There are many species of the genus Caulerpa, but Caulerpa lentillifera and C. racemosa are the two most popular edible ones. Both have a grape-like appearance and are used in fresh salads. They are commonly found on sandy or muddy sea bottoms in shallow protected areas. The pond cultivation of C. lentillifera has been very successful on Mactan Island, Cebu, in the central Philippines.
It is harvested mainly in Ireland and the shores of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada, and is especially abundant around Grand Manan Island, situated in the Bay of Fundy, in a line with the Canadian-United States of America border between New Brunswick and Maine. The harvest season here is from mid-May to mid-October. After picking, the seaweed is laid out to sun dry for 6-8 hours; if the weather is not suitable, it can be stored in seawater for a few days, but it soon deteriorates.
Irish moss or carrageenan moss (Chondrus crispus)
Chondrus crispus has already been discussed as a source of carrageenan, in Sections 6.2 to 6.4. Irish Moss has a long history of use in foods in Ireland and some parts of Europe. It is not eaten as such, but used for its thickening powers when boiled in water, a result of its carrageenan content. It is used in seaweed salads, sashimi garnishes and as a soup ingredient.
This large brown kelp grows in the upper limit of the sublittoral zone. It has a wide distribution in cold waters and does not survive above 16°C. It is found in areas such as Ireland, Scotland (United Kingdom), Iceland, Brittany (France), Norway, Nova Scotia (Canada), Sakhalin (Russia) and northern Hokkaido (Japan). In Ireland it grows up to 4 m in length and favours wave-exposed rocky reefs all around the Irish coast. Eaten in Ireland, Scotland (United Kingdom) and Iceland either fresh or cooked, it is said to have the best protein among the kelps and is also rich in trace metals and vitamins, especially niacin.
Grown in tropical waters. It is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties and is also used as a base for a non-alcoholic drink.
In Chile, the demand for edible seaweeds has increased and Callophyllis variegata ("carola") is one of the most popular.
Survival Techniques, saving seed
Saving Seed is a vital part of gardening when one can no longer just purchase seed. Some, such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, lettuce, okra, and oats will self pollinate. Others, such as corn, wind pollinate, but most require pollination by insects, which include most than bees. Many seed pods will shatter or scatter seed if not collected promptly, such as cabbage, onion, or lettuce, but most will stay in their pods or dry well on the plant. Allow the fruit to fully mature before collecting. Tomato seed needs to ferment, form mold, before it will germinate properly. Some plants, such as beets, carrots, and onions are biennial, needing a two year cycle. For or all seeds, dry, let them rest, and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Best book: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth.
Preserve the germinating capacity of seed. Humidity and temperature are Factors, as Pocket advice shows. Pollination can be by Self Pollination or Cross Pollination, and Unwanted Crossing can be prevented by Isolation, Alternate Planting, Caging, or Hand Pollinating theFlowers. Culling, or Roguing eliminates poor genetics. Seeds often need a Resting period before they will germinate, and some biennial root plants such as the Potatoe can also be propagated by Cuttings. Harvesting is best done when the seed is Ripe or Dry, and some need moreTime on the Vine. Tips on saving seed, reducing Diseases, and a Starting Mix are available. Hybrid seed is not likely to produce viable seed and is Genetically Altered to prevent reproduction by Mega Merger companies seeking high profits, a trend temporarily Halted. Seed for sustainable gardens needs to be from the old, reproducible strains, with the Parent Plant selected from the best. The Arc Institute offers survival seeds and Geri explains how to Save Seed, and how the Terminator Gene in hybrid seeds is a threat. Nitro Pak, Seeds Blum, J.L. Hudson, I Can Garden, Ready Reserve, Denali Seed, and Seeds of Change offer non-hybrid seeds, as do many other Sources. A Troubled Time TEAM has been formed to grow and pass along non-hybrid seed. For beginners, there is advice on Saving Seed, Pollinating, Types of Seed, Harvesting Seeds, Storing Seed, Testing Seeds.