National Nutrition Month is celebrated in March with an educational campaign to develop awareness of the importance of physical fitness and a healthy diet. The campaign aims to help people take charge of their own health in order to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, which include cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
One great way to celebrate National Nutrition Month is to evaluate the nutritional content of the foods you eat. Make efforts to avoid foods that contribute to weight gain, and focus instead on foods that build muscle mass.
Here are some vitamins and nutrients that are critical for building muscle and burning fat:
- Calcium – Calcium is crucial for the formation of strong bones and teeth. It is also needed for energy metabolism and muscle contraction. When the body lacks calcium, it releases calcitrol, which is a hormone that causes the body to store fat. Calcium-rich foods include almonds, cheese, sardines, yogurt, and sesame seeds.
- Biotin – People consume food to fuel their activities. Biotin is essential in converting the food that we eat—including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—into energy. Biotin also helps keep the skin and the hair looking healthy. Biotin deficiency can cause your hair to turn grey. It can be sourced from egg yolks, almonds, hazelnut, and peanut butter.
- Iron – Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin—the red blood cells that transport oxygen from lungs to muscles. Iron is also responsible for the maintenance of high levels of energy and for keeping the immune system strong. Iron can be sourced from venison, sardines, bran cereals, and dried apricots.
- Vitamin C – This critical antioxidant helps in metabolizing carbohydrates into fuel. Vitamin C protects the body from oxidative stress resulting from exercising. It also facilitates the absorption of iron and provides protection against infection. Vitamin C can be sourced from broccoli, citrus fruits, blackcurrants, and green peppers.
- Selenium – This trace mineral helps in boosting the immune system, preventing heart disease, and fighting off caner. Selenium may help stabilize mood, prevent depression, and fend off free radical damage resulting from weight training. Selenium-rich food includes sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, whole grain bread, and fresh tuna.
- Omega-3 – Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to improved cardiovascular health. They are not produced by the body but must be sourced from our food. Foods that are rich in omega-3 acids include flaxseed oil, mackerel, salmon, walnuts, and Brazil nuts.
The body also needs other minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin D from eggs and olive oil; Vitamin B12 from eggs, meat, and milk; copper from peanuts and sunflower seeds; magnesium from green leafy vegetables; and riboflavin from red meat, eggs, and cheese. Including all of these essential vitamins and minerals in our diet can help ensure a healthier life.