Nutritional deficiency and effect on emotional health
Vitamins and minerals play a key part of maintaining not only good physical health but also emotional health. Minerals such as iron play a key role in building healthy red blood cells. Calcium is needed for strong bones, teeth and a healthy nervous system. Vitamin C is necessary for a healthy immune system, repairing tissues and for synthesizing fats and proteins.
Without proper vitamins and minerals we can start to develop deficiencies that impact our physical and emotional wellbeing. A large percentage of Americans take vitamin and mineral supplements, often as a pill or capsule. But this form of supplementation is not always effective. For some people with digestive difficulties, it may be hard to break down hard pills and absorb the nutrients. The vitamins or minerals also may not come in a form that is easily assimilable.
Since world war II, our diet has become increasingly devoid of important minerals and vitamins. Agricultural soil has been depleted of minerals and vitamins as we have relied increasingly on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. That means the carrot you eat that is grown on a factory farm has far less nutrition in it that a carrot grown 50 years ago. Here are some statistics from Scientific American.
“A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal,found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.”
How do we change this trend? The only lasting change that will help is to steer away from conventional factory farming to organic and sustainable agricultural practices. Essentially, we need to farm like our ancestors did- with an emphasis on strengthening the soil through composting and natural fertilization. That will insure a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals in our soil and thus in the carrot we eat at dinner.
And while we can try and shop at stores that sell organic food (if financially feasible), we can also supplement our diet with herbs that are mineral and nutrient rich. There are a variety of wild weedy herbs that are easy to gather (dandelion leaf, plantain leaf, burdock root) that are deeply nutritious and are likely peaking out of a corner of your backyard. As long as you are not using round up to make your lawn perfectly unblemished, those weeds are free sources of dense nutrition.
OK so lets take a look at the vitamins, minerals and where you can find some of these in herbs:
Vitamin A: Key for good strong bones, vision and healthy skin. Also helpful for strengthening immune function and as part of hormonal production.
Sources: Alfalafa, basil, borage, Burdock, chickweed, Dandelion. Garlic, holy basil, horsetail. Marshmallow, mate, moringa, mullein, nettle, oatstraw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry. red clover, sage, seaweeds, spearmint, violet leaves, yellow dock
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Helps us to process carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Key in metabolism of ATP, key for energy levels. Strengthens nervous system.
Sources: Alfalfa, bladderwrack, burdock root, catnip, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, hops, mate, nettle, oat straw, parsley, raspberry, red clover, seaweeds, yarrow, yellow dock.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Strengthens nervous system, helps in building healthy blood cells, hormone production, strengthens nails, teeth and hair.
Sources: Alfalfa, burdock, catnip, chaga, chickweed, dandelion, fennel seed, ginseng, horsetail, mate, mullein, nettle, oatstraw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, sage, seaweeds, yellow dock
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Key for circulation, energy levels, and for healthy skin.
Sources: Alfalfa, burdock, catnip, chaga, chickweed, fennel seed, licorice, mate, mullein, nettle, oatstraw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, reishi, rose hips, yellow dock
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Helps produce HCl (Hydrochloric acid) necessary for proper digestion.
Sources: Alfalfa, catnip, wheat, mugwort, oat straw
Vitamin B12: Essential vitamin for strengthening the nervous system, key for energy levels and helps in the digestive process.
Sources: Alfalfa, bladderwrack, hops
Vitamin C: Essential for healthy levels of collagen necessary for tissue repair. Key for vital immune and nervous system function, for synthesizing fats, proteins and for strengthening blood vessels. As an anti-oxidant it helps in scavenging free radicals.
Sources: Acai berry, alfalfa, amla, burdock, boneset, catnip, cayenne, chickweed, dandelion, elderberry, garlic, goji berry, hawthorn berry, huckleberry, mate, nettles, oatstraw, parsley, plantain, pine needle, plantain, raspberry, reishi, rose hips, seaweeds, skullcap, strawberry, violets, yarrow, yellow dock
Vitamin D: This is a vitamin that can be manufactured by the body when there is plenty of sunshine. It is key for good strong bones and teeth, to help the body absorb calcium and is key for improving thyroid function and enhancing immunity.
Sources: Alfalfa, horsetail. mushrooms, nettles, parsley, watercress
Vitamin E: Helps reduce oxidation, protects red blood cells and helps several enzyme metabolic processes. Strengthens healthy skin and hair
Sources: Alfalfa, dandelion, dong quai, moringa, nettles, oat straw, raspberry, rose hips. seaweeds.
Vitamin K: Key for helping blood to clot. Helps bone repair.
Sources: Alfalfa, basil, holy basil, nettles, oatstraw, seaweeds
Calcium: A key mineral for strengthening bones and teeth, calcium also helps in the process of muscle contractions and to help blood clotting. Also calcium is a key mineral in nervous system cell signaling.
Sources: Chamomile, cleavers, dandelion, dill, horsetail, meadowsweet, moringa, nettles, parsley, plantain, raspberry, reishi, watercress, yellow dock
Copper: Copper plays a role in assisting the absorption of iron to help make healthy red blood cells. It also helps in the production of collagen and a lack of copper can lead to osteoporosis and decreased neurological functioning.
Sources: basil, cacao, chaga, dandelion, holy basil, nettles, parsley, reishi, sorrel, shitake,
Iodine: Iodine is key for good thyroid function and deficiency can lead to problems such as fatigue, exhaustion, depression, constipation, lethargy, confusion and cognitive decline.
Sources: Garlic, mustard, parsley, seaweeds
Iron: Essential for healthy red blood cells, an iron deficiency (anemia) can lead to sluggishness, pallor, weakness, debility, fatigue and decreased immune function.
Sources: Alfalfa, basil, burdock, cacao, chaga, dandelion, maca, mullein, nettles, rose hips, seaweeds, shitake, spearmint, yellow dock.
Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for a healthy functioning nervous system as it is a key mineral in nerve signaling. Magnesium is also essential for health none and teeth formation. Magnesium is often offered to help reduce blood pressure, anxiety and to improve sleep.
Sources: Alfalfa, burdock, cacao, dandelion, dill, mate, moringa, mullein, nettles, peppermint, raspberry, seaweeds, skullcap, sorrel, yellow dock
Potassium: Is essential for maintaining the healthy functioning of the heart and muscles. It works in conjunction with sodium to regulate fluid balance and electrical signaling. A deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, weakness, low blood pressure, confusion and changes in heart rhythm.
Sources: Alfalfa, borage, cacao, chamomile, comfrey, dandelion, fennel, mate, mullein, nettles, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry, spearmint, yarrow
Phosphorus: Primarily found in the bones and teeth which they strengthen, phosphorus is also useful for nerve and muscle function, DNA formation and is implicated in kidney disease when the kidneys are unable to excrete it properly and high levels develop.
Sources: Alfalfa, cacao, calendula, caraway, chickweed, dandelion, garlic, licorice, parsely, raspberry, rose hips, seaweeds, yellow dock
Selenium: As a trace mineral, selenium is essential for a healthy immune system, good cognitive function and fertility
Sources: Cacao, mushrooms, seaweeds
Sulfur: Key for healthy function of key enzymes, important for mitochondrial function and therefore energy regulation, insulin function, glucose metabolism and plays a key role in reducing chronic inflammation.
Sources: Alfalfa, burdock, cacao, fennel garlic, mullein, nettles, parsley, plantain, raspberry, sage, thyme
Zinc: Zinc is an essential trace mineral important for immune system function, hormonal balance and is needed for a number of biochemical functions found in the digestive, nervous and reproductive systems.
Sources: cacao, chaga, kelp