What Body Weight Reveals and What It Doesn’t
Bathroom scales are very limited as to what they reveal. Knowing your body weight is important for health reasons, but for a more complete understanding of your body, you need more information about why your weight is what it shows on the scale.
If you are trying to lose weight, it is not only how much weight you lose that matters but how much of the weight loss is fat loss. If you are into fitness, scales don’t tell you what types of bodily tissues account for your body composition.
Body composition analysis determines what percentage of your body weight is lean body mass and what percentage of your body weight is body fat. It can usually be determined by a certified personal fitness trainer or other medically qualified professional.
Generally speaking, more lean body mass and less body fat is the goal, with occasional exceptions. Lean body mass and body fat percentages should correspond to a person’s age and gender.
A healthy percentage of lean body mass is a requirement for good fitness.
Adipose tissue includes the loose connective tissue and the fatty tissue mass of the body. Its primary function is to store energy in the form of fat. Also, it surrounds the internal organs to protect them and insulate the body. All the other tissues of the body are commonly referred to as lean body mass.
Subcutaneous fat is the adipose tissue that lies directly under the skin. It has nerves and blood vessels that bring oxygen to the skin. Also, It acts as an energy source for the body and protects the skin by acting as a cushion.
Visceral fat is located deep within the body. It protects major organs such as the liver and heart by surrounding them to act as cushioning. Excess visceral fat is dangerous.
Cellulite is not a special form of fat. It is simply a nonmedical name for subcutaneous fat and is usually more visible in women than in men.
Types of Fat Cells
White Fat Cells
White fat cells act as the most abundant type of fat cells, accounting for about 98–99 percent of the fat cells in the body. Stored throughout the body, this fat becomes most visible on our stomach, thighs, and hips.
Brown Fat Cells
Brown fat cells are considered to be the “good” fat, accounting for the remaining 1–2 percent of the fat cells in the body. When it comes to body weight, the really great thing about brown fat cells is that they are metabolically active, and instead of being stored as body fat, as is the case with white fat cells, they are actually burned for energy, and that generates body heat.
Brown fat cells are packed with energy-producing mitochondria that also contain iron, which gives them their brown color.
Infants are born with high amounts of brown fat cells (about 5 percent of their total body mass), and it is stored on the upper spine and shoulders to keep them warm. In adulthood, we lose some of these brown fat cells; however, we also store small amounts.
What is the “Best” Way to Lose Body Fat?
Your top priority must be to reduce your daily caloric intake. Only your physician can make the determination as to how many calories you can safely cut each day in a weight-loss program.
It is also extremely important that you consume approximately eight glasses of water each day, as well as the recommended daily requirements from the three major food groups:
Reducing your caloric intake is the single most important step for losing body fat, but aerobic exercise must be included in a healthy weight-loss program.
Regardless of TV advertising or other types of marketing, the truth is that no special exercise or diet book can give you safer advice for weight loss than the recommendations above. Also, you cannot purchase a device that will shed pounds off your abs, or any other selected body part. Nature doesn’t work that way.
After checking with your doctor, use a certified personal fitness trainer to design a total fitness program that includes aerobics, a progressive weightlifting program, proper dietary practices, and adequate rest.
How Many Calories Do I Need to Cut to Lose Weight?
To lose one to two pounds per week, you need to reduce your intake of food by about 500–1,000 calories daily.
Generally, women will lose weight safely on an eating plan of about 1,000–1,200 calories daily whereas men will lose weight safely on an eating plan of about 1,200–1,600 calories daily.
Your health, current weight, and exercise routines are among the other considerations for determining the amount of caloric intake that is safe for you. We strongly advise you to consult with your doctor before starting a weight-loss program.
Never eat less than 800 calories per day unless you are under a doctor’s supervision. These are a few of the recommended ways to lose calories:
- Eat smart: Select foods that are lower in fat and added sugars.
- Exercise regularly.
- Best: Combine both of the above.
- Eat frequently: Four or five smaller meals per day (grazing) is ideal.
- Each meal should be 400–500 calories.
- Eating mini-meals speeds up your metabolism, and your BMR.
- Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, it gets your body off to a good start.
- If you just can’t eat breakfast on a given day, eat fruit, or even a piece of bread.
- You will sabotage your body’s ability to lose weight if you skip breakfast!
The only way to lose weight healthfully and successfully is to make proper changes to one’s entire lifestyle. It is recommended that an individual seek medical attention when weight loss is a problem.
In any effort to lose weight, be aware of and consult with a doctor to avoid the following eating disorders:
Anorexia Nervosa is the most dangerous of all eating disorders. The victim suffers from an intense fear of gaining weight and resorts to various degrees of starvation.
Characterized by a distorted body image whereby the person always feels fat, resulting in eating habits that lead to extreme weight loss. Eventually, if the victim is a woman, she will experience amenorrhea (the absence of monthly periods).
Compulsive exercising is an extreme weight-loss disorder that is particularly common among fashion models, dancers, gymnasts, and long-distance runners. In some cases, starvation leads to extreme undernourishment, where the victim’s body weight may drop to seventy pounds or less.
If left untreated, the victim may suffer from metabolic abnormalities, malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, seizures (convulsions), as well as many other physical problems and even death. This is a complex condition that is both psychological and physiological.
Fasting is an unhealthy method to quickly lose weight. Involves a lack of food over a long period of time, although it may include the drinking of water only.
Usually results in less fat being lost than would be the case on a low calorie diet due to the body’s compromised rate of metabolism. Most of the weight that is lost during fasting is a result of water loss and lean body tissue (muscle, organ, and bone tissue).
Usually the person who uses fasting as a method of losing weight eventually gains back all the weight that has been lost and frequently gains back even more weight.
The progressive, negative effects of fasting result in a tremendous reduction in the body’s energy output because the body strives to conserve its stores of fat and lean tissue.
Seriousness increases as body organs begin to shrink, muscles begin to atrophy, and the body reduces its energy requirements. As the progression of harmful side effects continues, the body becomes extremely weak and tired as a result of the loss of minerals and water.
To summarize, fasting is not only ineffective, but it is also dangerous.
Differs from fasting because it is not a matter of choice, whereas fasting is self-imposed. It is often a result of an unwanted circumstance, such as being denied food.
A serious condition where the victim suffers from a lack of food and water over a long period of time, resulting in unhealthy weight loss and dangerous changes in body chemistry (e.g., metabolism), as well as severe hunger.
Ketosis is a process that involves the dangerous build-up of ketones in the blood that offsets the body’s normal acid–base balance. A serious condition usually resulting from fasting or starvation, a lack of food, and possibly water, over a long period of time as well as a diet that is extremely low, or devoid of carbohydrates.
The body resorts to depleting its glycogen reserves for energy and then breaking down fat incompletely. It is this incomplete breakdown of fat that creates the build-up of ketones.
The body reacts to this excessive ketone build-up by excreting the ketones into the urine, resulting in larger volumes of water being urinated and progressive dehydration in the person affected.
The body resorts to not only breaking down fats for energy, but also protein tissue. This in turn causes additional complications to one’s health and is a dangerous way to lose weight.
An eating disorder that is characterized by a preoccupation with food, bulimia includes episodes of binge eating followed by fasting, self-induced vomiting (emesis), or the use of diuretics or laxatives and compulsive exercise.
Bulimics may consume up to 5,000 calories in a one- to two-hour period. If left untreated, the victim may suffer from menstrual irregularities, potassium depletion, kidney failure, urinary tract infections, ulcers, and many other physical problems.
Bulimics are usually easier to treat than anorexia because they are more likely to recognize that their behavior is abnormal and consequently are more likely to gain control over their abnormality.
This eating disorder is usually worse when the bulimic eats alone; therefore, an excellent method of dealing with this problem is for the person to try to arrange to eat meals with other people. Alternatively, a family member or friend might arrange for the bulimic to eat with other people.
When weight loss is excessively fast and then that weight is regained after a period of time, often in greater amounts than the weight that was lost. It becomes increasingly more difficult to lose weight after falling into a yo-yo effect pattern.
Calorie Burning Comparison for Exercise
Aerobic exercises burn a far greater number of calories per minute during a workout than weight-lifting exercises. They also continue to burn calories briefly following a workout. Aerobic exercises that are most effective include:
Where losing weight and keeping it off is the goal, a person should include a weight-lifting program to develop additional muscle tissue.
The special benefit of muscle tissue is that it continues to burn calories each and every second of the day, even while you sleep. As you increase the percentage of muscle tissue in your body, you increase the rate at which your body burns calories.
Aerobic exercise burns calories faster. Muscle tissue gained from weight lifting burns calories continuously.
The best way to lose weight and to keep it off is to use a combination of weight lifting and aerobics, rather than using just one or the other.
Finally, and very importantly, weight lifting adds the finishing touches by sculpting the body that you have worked so hard to slim down.
Effect of Muscle Size on Lean Body Mass
Lean Body Mass
Total body weight minus the weight of body fat determines a person’s percentage of lean body mass. Essentially, lean body mass is composed of muscle, bone, glands, and all the other body tissues that are not fat. Your lean body mass is one component of your overall body composition.
The combination of two criteria:
- A person’s percentage of lean body mass
- A person’s percentage of body fat
Calories Burned by Adding Muscle
Maintaining Muscle Tissue
Muscle tissue requires high levels of energy in order to maintain and rebuild itself. An increase in muscle tissue can best be achieved by strength training.
Greater muscle size increases caloric consumption every second of every day. Simply stated, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. This increase in caloric consumption is due to an increase in metabolism.
Conversely, a decrease in muscle tissue results in a decrease in caloric consumption and metabolism.
Myth Busting: Calories Burned by Adding Muscle
For many decades, there has been a popular myth that for every pound of muscle that you add, your body burns an extra fifty to sixty calories per day, even at rest. This is a false concept. In fact, muscle burns far less calories than had been previously believed.
Adding one pound of muscle results in burning about five to six extra calories per day, even at rest. Therefore, you would need to add ten pounds of new muscle to burn about an extra fifty to sixty calories every day.
In contrast, one pound of fat burns about two to three calories per day, even at rest.
Building Muscle Tissue
With properly performed strength training programs, it is possible to add three to five pounds of muscle in three to four months, which translates to an extra caloric burn of approximately eighteen to thirty calories per day.
Body Weight Stabilization
Set-Point theory states that everybody has an established normal body weight and that when the body deviates from that weight it tends to adjust its metabolism to return to that weight.
Energy Balance Theory
Energy balance theory comes from the idea that body weight will remain the same providing that calorie intake equals caloric expenditure. According to the idea, positive calorie intake results in weight gain, and negative calorie intake results in weight loss.
Food as Energy
Food is the body’s fuel. It provides the potential to perform work and activities. As gasoline is the fuel that provides energy for a car, food is the fuel that provides energy for the body to perform all of its required functions.
The energy from food is measured by the calories that are provided by the food’s carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Thermal Effect of Food (TEF)
Eating food requires the body to expend energy to digest, absorb, and metabolize that food. The amount of energy required for eating is thought to be about 10 percent of a person’s daily food intake; therefore, if a person consumes two thousand calories a day, 10 percent (or two hundred calories) are required just to digest, absorb, and metabolize that food.
Body Function Stabilization
Homeostasis is a normalization process that refers to the body’s tendency to stabilize and balance its functions. This continuous process works to keep the body’s internal environment operating normally in spite of constant external changes.
The stabilization process is the primary function of most organs. Examples of the homeostatic function of organs include:
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Regulation of body temperature
- Regulation of blood sugar levels
These conditions are regulated by negative feedback. When blood pressure, body temperature, or blood sugar vary from normal levels, the body automatically works to counteract the abnormality and reestablish normal levels.
Within the circulatory system, baroreceptors (pressure sensors), help to keep blood pressure at nearly constant levels by sending rapid negative feedback to the brain that results in causing the heart rate to decrease and blood pressure to decrease.
The body contains two other, slower acting systems to regulate blood pressure:
- The heart releases atrial natriuretic peptide (a substance secreted by heart muscle cells) when blood pressure is too high.
- The kidneys sense and correct low blood pressure with the renin-angiotensin system (a hormone system that is involved in the regulation of the plasma sodium concentration and arterial blood pressure).
Body Temperature (Too Hot or Too Cold)
As discussed above, homeostasis is the process that normalizes body temperature, whether the body is too hot, or too cold.
Homeostasis is regulated by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain. It should be noted that the hypothalamus is also responsible for other metabolic processes and activities of the autonomic nervous system that do not relate to body temperature, and therefore not discussed.
One of the most important functions of the hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, which in turn releases hormones to stimulate or inhibit the secretion of pituitary hormones to regulate body temperature.
When a body’s blood sugar levels are too high, it counteracts by causing the pancreas (which is part of the endocrine system) to produce insulin to enable the blood sugar level to return back to normal.
When a body’s blood sugar levels are too low, it counteracts by causing the pancreas to produce glucagon to enable the blood sugar level to return back to normal.
Health Conditions Resulting from Chemical Imbalances
Low blood-potassium level Symptoms include, but are not limited to, muscular weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, shallow breathing, and paralysis. Hypokalemia can be caused by kidney failure, diarrhea, and vomiting as well as disease such as Cushing’s syndrome.
- High blood-potassium level
- Symptoms include, but are not limited to, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, paralysis, and muscular weakness.
- It can also be caused by kidney disease or Addison’s disease.
Hyperthyroidism is also called overactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats.
If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems with the heart, bones, muscles, menstrual cycle, and fertility.
Hypothyroidism is also called underactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs. Without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down.
Metabolism is a combination of physiological and chemical processes that are required by the body in order to supply the energy that is necessary to maintain life.
As we age there is a natural and continuous decline in our metabolism, along with other degenerative processes.
To counter the decline in metabolism, we need to increase the percentage of muscle tissue in our bodies. The best way to add muscle tissue is to lift weights.
To avoid confusion, aerobic exercises such as: running, walking, treadmill, stepper, elliptical, swimming, and bicycle do not add substantial amounts of muscle tissue.
However, these exercises do offer a wide variety of cardiorespiratory and disease prevention benefits.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
BMR is the energy requirement of your body at rest that is necessary to maintain normal body functions such as heartbeat, respiration, and body temperature.
An individual’s BMR uses approximately 60–70 percent of the body’s energy requirement. For example, if a person requires 2,000 calories per day, approximately 1,200–1,400 will be needed to support the BMR.
BMR reaches its highest level for both males and females at age twenty. Then it decreases by 2 percent each decade for the rest of one’s life. At age thirty, the BMR operates at 98 percent efficiency; at age forty it operates at 96 percent efficiency. At age seventy, it operates at 90 percent efficiency. This decline continues throughout life.
Besides age, factors that affect BMR include: gender, height, diet, exercise, environmental conditions, and much more.
The amount of muscle mass that we have helps to determine our basal metabolic rate (BMR). After we reach the age of twenty, we lose about one-half pound of muscle mass per year, our BMR decreases, and we burn fewer and fewer calories each day. That results in a tendency to put on weight. A decrease in physical activity is the primary cause for this muscle loss.
The good news is that we can add muscle mass as we get older, and that will increase our BMR, which will increase the number of calories that we burn while at rest. Burning more calories while resting makes it easier to lose weight and to maintain a healthy body weight.
The very best way to slow down the decline in BMR is to add muscle mass. Start a weight-lifting program designed for you by a certified personal fitness trainer. Simply stated, more muscle tissue translates to more calories burned at rest every day.
A major benefit of the faster metabolism is the increased ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
A fuel source for energy metabolism that is made up of carbohydrates (glucose) and fat (fatty acids). This fuel source is used by the cells of the body to produce most of the ATP supply.
The body’s two high-energy storage compounds, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine phosphate (CP), are high-energy phosphate molecules that can be immediately metabolized to increase cell function.
These phosphate molecules are mostly stored in muscle tissue. For a highly trained athlete who is doing high-intensity activity, the combined phosphagen stores of ATP and CP have only enough energy to last about ten seconds.
For a nonathletic person doing high-intensity activity, the available energy would be somewhat less than ten seconds.
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
This high-energy phosphate molecule is required in order to provide energy for cells to function.
The body produces ATP both aerobically (with oxygen) and anaerobically (without oxygen).
Much more ATP is produced during aerobic activity than during anaerobic activity. To further understand the dynamics of ATP, one must understand the terms synthesis and hydrolysis:
- Synthesis is when two or more chemical compounds, or chemical elements, combine to form a more complex compound. ATP transports chemical energy within cells and is vital to the synthesis of nucleic acids. The human body stores about 0.1 mole of ATP.
- Hydrolysis refers to a chemical reaction that must include water, wherein one chemical compound produces another compound. The hydrolysis of two hundred to three hundred moles of ATP daily are required to supply energy to the body’s cells. Therefore, 0.1 mole of ATP must be recycled two to three thousand times daily. Because large quantities of ATP cannot be stored, the consumption of ATP must be directly related to its synthesis.
Creatine Phosphate (CP)
This high-energy phosphate molecule that is stored in the cells is used instantly to resynthesize ATP.
Organic compounds that are composed mostly of proteins, enzymes are used in the process of digestion. They act as catalysts to bring about a series of chemical breakdowns of complex compounds into simpler substances. The end result is the production of energy for the body’s needs.
A natural substance produced by the cells of the body that have morphine-like characteristics, endorphins relieve pain, improve mood, and are also involved in other bodily functions.
Many people who have been exercising heavily over an extended period of time, such as body builders and long-distance runners, enjoy the benefits of increased levels of endorphins. They experience an elevated feeling of energy, tranquility, strength, and well-being.
A hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is secreted directly into the bloodstream, adrenaline results in a noticeable increase in energy. Some of its most important functions include the following:
- Increasing the speed and force of each heartbeat, which enables the heart to work harder.
- Dilating (opening) airways to allow more air to pass through, which improves breathing, and therefore, enables the body to work harder.
- Enabling more blood to reach the muscles, which increases their ability to work harder.
In the pancreas there is a small group of cells called the Islets of Langerhans (also called the Islands of Langerhans), and they produce the hormone insulin.
Insulin is necessary to control the proper levels of glucose (blood sugar) within the cells of the body. It enables other cells to convert glucose into energy. Insulin must be available in just the right amounts, neither too much nor too little, to keep glucose at the proper levels.
The energy derived from glucose is available to use immediately or at a later time. A deficiency in the production or use of insulin causes an elevation in the levels of glucose (blood sugar) and may result in the medical condition known as diabetes.
Conversely, an excess of insulin within the cells of the body causes a decrease in the levels of glucose (blood sugar) and may result in the condition known as hypoglycemia.
Lactate (Lactic Acid)
A multifunctional chemical that has three major purposes, lactate response to aerobic and anaerobic exercises by fueling the muscles, delaying fatigue, and preventing injury.
The body does not store lactic acid. Instead, it produces lactate, which is lactic acid minus one proton.
When the body doesn’t have enough oxygen to continue an exercise, it converts pyruvate (an intermediate compound in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.) into lactate to fuel its muscles. If the muscles did not produce sufficient amounts of lactate while doing high-intensity exercise, the muscles would fatigue more quickly.
Diabetes Mellitus and Hypoglycemia
Diabetes Mellitus is the inability of the pancreas to provide sufficient production and utilization of the hormone insulin.
Insulin enables glucose to be transferred from the blood and to enter into the body’s cells, a process that helps to maintain normal blood glucose levels. In the nondiabetic individual, eating determines the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder for which there is no cure. Diabetes is a disease, however, that can be controlled. If left untreated, it may result in circulatory problems, kidney disease, blindness, or death. The two types of diabetes mellitus are Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetics are either born with it or develop it in their childhood.
For the Type 1 diabetic, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This individual is insulin dependent and must take insulin injections on a daily basis. For the 5 percent of diabetics who are Type 1 diabetics, this is a lifelong condition.
Type 2 Diabetes
About 95 percent of all diabetics are Type 2 diabetics. Type 2 diabetics usually develop the disease in adulthood.
For the Type 2 diabetic, the body produces an insufficient supply of insulin, but the individual can control blood glucose (sugar) levels through diet, exercise, and oral medications. In Type 2 Diabetes, the individual is not insulin dependent.
Diabetes and Exercise
Exercise can lower a diabetic’s glucose levels. Exercise increases the entry of glucose into the cells; however, if the diabetic exercises too much, eats too little, or takes too much insulin, it can create an abnormally low blood sugar level. This condition may cause the diabetic to experience an episode of hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a glucose deficiency in the blood. Most cases of hypoglycemia affect people with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. It is generally caused by too much insulin, too little glucose, or too much exercise.
The typical symptoms of hypoglycemia are feeling faint, loss of consciousness, excessive fatigue, seizures, lightheadedness, shakiness, sweating, headache, irritability, slurred speech, poor circulation, or butterflies in the stomach.
Hypoglycemia is a serious condition because the brain needs glucose for proper functioning and lengthy periods of insufficient glucose may permanently impair the health of the brain.
Aerobic and Anaerobic-Energy Systems
Energy used for muscle contraction is derived from three primary energy systems. These systems are all responsible for producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s primary energy source. ATP is responsible for the contraction and force that a muscle produces.
The term aerobic means oxygen. An exercise is aerobic when sufficient amounts of oxygen are
available to the body’s cells to enable fatty acids, glucose, and glycogen to produce ATP.
The term anaerobic means without oxygen. An exercise is anaerobic when insufficient amounts of oxygen are available to the body’s cells to enable the body to produce ATP. The body relies upon the two anaerobic-energy systems for the production of ATP:
- Phosphagens to produce ATP.
- Glucose and glycogen to produce ATP.
The point during high-intensity activity at which the cardiovascular system can no longer meet the body’s demand for oxygen by utilizing the aerobic energy system Consequently, this lack of oxygen causes the body to rely primarily on its anaerobic-energy systems.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is an estimate of body fat and is a good gauge of the risks for diseases that can be related to an excess of body fat.
The higher a person’s BMI, the higher the risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, certain cancers, and many other diseases.
Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits. BMI may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
BMI may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.
Weight in Kilograms ÷ Height in Meters
- A weight of 175 pounds,
- A height of 5’5” (65 inches)
Step 1: Convert Pounds to Kilograms
- Weight in pounds ÷ 2.2
- 175 pounds ÷ 2.2 = 79.54 kilograms
Step 2: Convert Inches to Meters:
- Height in inches x 0.0254
- 65 inches x 0.0254 = 1.65 meters
Step 3: Convert Meters to Meters
- 1.65 x 1.65 = 2.72 meters
Step 4: Calculate BMI
- Weight in kilograms ÷ height in meters
- 79.54 kilograms ÷ 2.72 meters = 29.24
This calculation determined that the example person’s BMI is 29.24, and therefore overweight.
Understanding Body Fat Percentage
Very Lean Percent of Body Fat for Women
- Less than 17%
Very Lean Percent of Body Fat for Men
- Less than 8%
Healthy Percent of Body Fat for Women
- From 18 to 22%
Healthy Percent of Body Fat for Men
- From 8 to 12%
Obese Percent of Body Fat for Women
- From 30% or more
Obese Percent of Body Fat for Men
- From 20% or more
Ideal Percent of Body Fat for Women
- From 17 to 27%
Ideal Percent of Body Fat for Men
- From 10 to 16%
How to Build Muscle Size and Strength
Muscles grow in size and strength when they are stimulated by exercises that use proper progressive increases in weight, as well as proper increases in repetitions, and are continued over a prolonged period of time, as in months or years.
The most effective way to accomplish these muscle gains is to lift free weights or use weight-lifting machines.
The following example explains the basic technique for increasing muscle size and strength. Be sure to get clearance from your physician if you have any condition that might put you at risk. Also, if you are over fifty years of age, you should consult a physician for clearance.
- The exerciser wants to increase muscle strength and size in her legs.
- The exercise that stimulates the greatest amount of muscle tissue throughout the legs is the squat (or leg press on a machine).
- If you are a beginner, you need to select a weight that allows you to comfortably perform eight to twelve repetitions, using proper form, for three sets.
- If you can do more than twelve repetitions, then the weight is too light.
- If you can’t do eight repetitions, then the weight is too heavy.
- If you can do between eight and twelve repetitions, then the weight is correct.
- After you’ve performed the first set, wait sixty seconds, and repeat two more times for a total of three sets. Use the same technique for your next exercise.
- About every two weeks, try to increase the weight and repetitions (by no more than 5 percent). Wait longer if you struggle to make these increases.
Benefits of Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs
A necessary part of a workout routine, warming up and cooling down muscles increase safety and performance. Please be sure to follow these practices.
- Gradually increases metabolic activity such as oxygen consumption, which in turn increases cardiorespiratory performance.
- Gradually increases body temperature, which increases muscle performance and reduces the risk of injury.
- Gradually increases nerve response for motor unit activity.
- Gradually increases blood flow, which reduces the risk of a heart trauma.
- Gradually increases a positive psychological response, which enables an easier progression to more intensive exercise.
To reduce bodily risk after your workout, it is essential that you cool down your body for at least five to ten minutes by performing low level aerobic exercise.
You can use any aerobic exercise machine, but gradually taper the intensity so that when you finish, your aerobic effort is equivalent to a very slow walk.
- Reduces the possibility of blood pooling, a sudden drop in blood pressure, lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting.
- Reduces the possibility of muscle spasms and cramping.
- Reduces the amounts of beneficial hormones such as endorphins that are produced from vigorous exercise.
It is very important to lower the amounts of these hormones to reduce the risk of cardiac rhythm irregularities.
Are “Spot Reducing” Exercises Effective?
Spot Reducing targets a specific body part in order to lose weight in that area. It is a technique often used during weight training in an effort to make the abdominals, thighs, butt, or triceps smaller.
Why Spot Reducing Does Not Work
All exercises, especially aerobic exercises, play a role in the reduction of body fat. Where body fat is lost is determined by your genetics—not by the choice of exercise, the weight used, the number of repetitions, or the number of times a week that you exercise.
You cannot use abdominal exercises only to reduce your waist size, for example. Even by doing hundreds of sit-ups every day, or by using abdominal exercise devices, you will not shrink your waist size.
When you perform a weight-training exercise on a body part, you actually increase its muscle size; you do not lose size.
Exercise Increases Abdominal Definition
If you are interested in defining your abdominals, or as many people express it, “building your six-pack,” then follow the two steps below to achieve the best possible results:
- Reduce waist size using a combination of aerobic exercise and disciplined dietary habits. Muscle definition will never be visible if your abs are covered with fat.
- Use resistance exercise such as weight lifting to build abdominal muscle.
Remember: Weight lifting exercises alone will not reduce belly fat nor give you abdominal muscle definition. You must remove belly fat to make your developed abs visible.
Common sense exercise techniques include:
- Maintaining adequate hydration, perhaps the most important preventative measure that you can implement.
- Understanding your body and not trying to push beyond your capabilities.
- Adjusting your exercise plan to consider weather conditions.
- Consuming proper nutrition at the appropriate time prior to your specific exercise.
These suggestions are not to be construed as our personal prescription for your particular needs, but rather a general outline of some of the usual recommendations by most sports health specialists.
The potential health consequences resulting from exercise include a variety of heat conditions outlined below (though it should be noted that these conditions can also be caused by reasons other than exercise).
The excessive loss of water as a result of perspiration. In preparation for exercising or an athletic competition, an individual should adhere to proper fluid replacement guidelines for exercise and be sure to consume adequate amounts of water before, during, and after the activity.
Painful muscle spasms that occur during or after strenuous physical activity, heat cramps are considered a mild, heat-related illness.
This is the most common heat-related illness and usually results from excessive exercise in hot, humid weather.
Symptoms include profuse sweating with fluid and electrolyte loss, drop in blood pressure, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, decreased coordination, and fainting (syncope).
This is the most serious heat-related illness and is caused by a heat overload, or the inability of the body to dissipate heat. Symptoms include body temperatures in excess of 105 degrees Fahrenheit, dry red skin, changing levels of consciousness, comas, seizures, and in extreme cases, death.
- Low blood-chloride level
- The symptoms include, but are not limited to, breathing difficulty, alkalosis, and muscle spasms.
- It can be caused by dehydration, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Low blood-sodium level
- The symptoms include, but are not limited to, headache, confusion, muscular weakness, and hypotension.
- It can be caused by sweating, drinking abnormally huge amounts of water, use of some diuretics, and diarrhea as well as disease, such as Addison’s disease.
- High blood-sodium level
- The symptoms include, but are not limited to, coma, confusion, and nervous system abnormalities.
- It can be caused by not drinking enough water, by diseases like diabetes insipidus or Cushing’s syndrome, or by the use of salt tablets, usually taken before athletic events.
- Salt tablets can cause or worsen a dehydration problem by causing water to be drawn out of the body tissues, where it is most needed, and into the stomach, which eventually leads to its elimination.
- Salt is an essential mineral and most diets contain more than a sufficient amount. Therefore, no supplementation is necessary for normal, healthy people.
Wolff’s Law states that bones strengthen in direct response to the proportion of work or exercise that they are subjected to over a continuous period of time. Conversely, bones will weaken in the absence of work or exercise.
Resistance exercises such as weight lifting increase muscle tissue size while simultaneously forcing the bones to become denser and stronger to compensate for the additional muscle tissue gain.
Physicians often recommend progressive weight training to address the problem of osteoporosis.
Calories and Kilocalories
The amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree centigrade, also referred to as a small calorie.
The amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree centigrade. Also referred to as a large calorie or the word Calorie spelled with a capital “C.” One kilocalorie is equivalent to one thousand small calories.
Caloric Values of the Three Main Nutrient Groups
- Carbohydrates 1 gram = 4 calories
- Proteins 1 gram = 4 calories
- Fats 1 gram = 9 calories
Certain nutrients that are vital to bodily functions cannot be produced by the body and can only be obtained from food. Four examples are:
- Essential Amino Acids
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Essential Vitamins
- Essential Minerals
Nutrient density is a measure of the amount of nutrients versus the number of calories for a particular food is called nutrient density. Foods that are nutrient-dense provide more nutrients than calories. Foods that contain more calories than nutrients are labeled as empty calories.
Six Nutrient Categories
- Proteins (Amino Acids)
Symbols that Express the Quantities of Nutrients
- IU (International Units)
- g (Grams)
- mg (Milligrams)
- mcg (μg) (Micrograms)
- AI (Adequate Intake)
Suggested Daily Intakes
Consume 55–60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates. For the average diet, this amounts to approximately 350–400 grams. No less than 125 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed each day.
Consume 12–20 percent of your daily calories from proteins. For the average diet, this amounts to approximately fifty to seventy grams.
Consuming extra protein does not help to build muscle faster. In fact, consuming extra protein can result in the addition of extra body fat and cause damage to certain organs of the body.
Consume 25–30 percent of your daily calories from fat. For the average diet, this amounts to approximately thirty to sixty- five grams. No more than ten grams of this fat should be saturated.
Recommended intake of water is eight glasses per day (eight ounces per glass) for people who are sedentary. Those who engage in vigorous activities, whether for work, pleasure, or exercise, must increase their intake accordingly.
The body is composed of about 60 percent water. It is essential for life. Without water the body would survive for only a few days. It is necessary for chemical reactions in the body.
Water is a component of body fluids that are used to transport required chemicals throughout the body and to remove by-products from the body.
Water helps to lubricate joints, and it also protects tissues and organs of the body from shock. It also helps to maintain proper body temperature.
Carbohydrates are vital nutrients that supply the body with energy. Chemically, a carbohydrate is a compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (CHO), containing twice as much hydrogen as oxygen.
Carbohydrates are one of the three main constituents of food (the others are proteins and fats). One gram of carbohydrates equals four calories.
- Glucose (simple sugar)
- Fructose (fruit sugar)
- Galactose (milk sugar)
- Sucrose (table sugar)
- Lactose (milk sugar)
- Maltose (malt sugar)
- a) Polysaccharides (starch, glycogen)
- Corn sweetener
- Malt syrup
- Corn syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- White Sugar
- Brown sugar
- White bread
- Candy Bars
- Flavored Water
- Ice cream
Complex carbohydrates (or starches):
- Whole-Grain Breads
- Whole-Grain Pastas
- Brown rice
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Low-fat yogurt
- Skim milk
All carbohydrates, both simple and complex, are converted to glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is a simple sugar and the main source of energy to supply the cells of the body and the brain.
The digestion of complex carbohydrates releases glucose into your bloodstream slower and more evenly than when digesting simple carbohydrates.
Unused glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and glycogen can be quickly converted back to glucose to meet the body’s energy needs.
Used to classify approximately six hundred foods on the basis of how fast a carbohydrate food is digested into glucose, and how that digestive process causes the blood sugar to elevate.
Muscles & Protein
The body’s muscle tissue is composed of approximately 20–25 percent protein and 75–80 percent water.
General Protein Requirements
In modern countries, the average diet supplies more protein than is required for maintaining and increasing muscle growth.
The average adult requires about one gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of bodyweight. For example, a 175-pound adult needs eighty grams of protein per day (175 pounds ÷ 2.2 grams/pound = 80 grams), which is less than three ounces of protein a day.
After the growth years, adults lose about a half-pound of muscle a year, regardless of their protein consumption, unless they perform an adequate amount of progressive resistance exercise. Just consuming extra protein does not increase muscle size.
Only progressive resistance exercise can increase muscle strength and size, and that’s providing that a balanced diet is followed and sleep requirements are met. Additionally, a person’s genetics play an important role in muscle development.
Protein Requirements for Athletes
As it relates to athletes, the body’s protein requirement does vary based on the level of prolonged physical exertion. Typically, the daily protein requirements for athletes are between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of bodyweight, which is higher than for the average adult.
Calculating the daily protein requirements for a 175-pound adult athlete requires additional steps after finding the daily grams for the average adult:
1) 175 pounds ÷ 2.2 = 80 grams (which is the required number of grams of protein daily for the average adult).
2) Using the accepted ranges for athletes, which are 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein a day, see (a) & (b) below:
- a) 80 x 1.2 = 96 grams, which is 3.4 ounces of protein required at the lower level.
- b) 80 x 1.7 = 136 grams, which is 4.8 ounces of protein required at the higher level.
The use of protein supplements is a common practice, especially among weightlifters, runners, and people in certain other sports where there is a high priority on muscle strength, size, endurance, and appearance.
As previously stated, in modern countries, the average diet supplies more protein than is required for maintaining and increasing muscle growth.
Whenever a person consumes more protein than the body can use:
- The extra amino acids are stored in the body as fat.
- The extra protein places a strain on the kidneys.
Amino acids are considered to be the building blocks of protein. There are twenty amino acids that combine to form this vital nutrient that is responsible for the building and repairing of body tissue.
Each of the twenty amino acids fall into one of two categories:
- Essential amino acids: cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from diet.
- Nonessential amino acids: can be made by the body.
Fat and Fatty Acids
Fat is a vital nutrient that is necessary for proper functioning of the body and energy storage. It supplies the body with energy for daily activities as well as for exercises that are low in intensity and long in duration (e.g., aerobics).
Fat also carries the four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), insulates the body, and cushions to protect internal organs.
Fat is one of the three main constituents of food (the other two are protein and carbohydrates). It is also needed to supply essential fatty acids, which are necessary for growth and protection against diseases.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat. Chemically, fat is a compound that consists mostly of carbon and hydrogen. Essential fatty acids are not produced by the body and must be obtained from diet.
A group of fatty substances that include cholesterol and triglycerides, lipids are vital nutrients that are a necessary part of every cell. Lipids store energy, supply energy to the body when needed, protect internal organs, and carry the four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
Lipids are also characterized by the fact that they are insoluble in water.
Three Main Types of Fatty Acids
Saturated Fatty Acids
A fatty acid that carries the maximum number of hydrogen atoms and is therefore saturated. Saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol levels and promote artery- clogging fatty deposits.
Saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature and mainly come from animal foods and can also be made from vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation.
Some common saturated fats are:
- milk fat
- beef fat (tallow, suet)
- chicken fat
- pork fat (lard)
- stick margarine
- hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils*
- coconut oil*
- palm and palm kernel oils*
*Saturated fats in oil form come from plant sources. Even though they are called “oils,” they are considered to be solid fats because they are high in saturated or trans fatty acids.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acid
A fatty acid that is missing one pair of hydrogen atoms in the middle of the molecule. The gap is called an unsaturation and the fatty acid is said to be monounsaturated because it has one gap.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in plant food, olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and some types of seafood. They tend to lower levels of LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL cholesterol, and they do not promote the formation of artery- clogging fatty deposits.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid
Polyunsaturated fatty acid is a fatty acid that is missing more than one pair of hydrogen atoms. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in plant food, safflower oil, corn oil, and some types of seafood.
They tend to lower levels of both HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids do not promote the formation of artery- clogging fatty deposits. There are two kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids:
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids
Essential Fatty Acids
Fat is essential to the body in order to maintain life. Certain fatty acids that are vital to bodily functions cannot be produced by the body and can only be obtained through one’s food intake; these are called essential fatty acids.
There are two kinds of essential fatty acids:
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acid, or Alpha-Linolenic Acid (LNA or ALA)
In the body, alpha-linolenic acid (LNA) is metabolized to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, such as salmon and mackerel, leafy green vegetables, nuts, soybean, canola oil, and especially in flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Products available for omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of dietary supplements. For example, products containing flaxseed oil provide ALA, fish-oil supplements provide EPA and DHA, and algal oils provide a vegetarian source of DHA.
Long-term scientific evidence supports the use of omega-3 fatty acids as found in fish oil to reduce sudden death, cardiac death, and myocardial infarction.
Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels in the blood.
Omega-6 Fatty Acid, or Linoleic Acid (LA)
In the body, linoleic acid (LA) is metabolized to arachidonic acid (AA).
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in corn, soybean, and safflower oils. They can lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
Daily Intakes for ALA and LA
The Institute of Medicine has established adequate intakes for ALA and LA (1.1–1.6 grams per day and 11–17 grams per day, respectively, for adults) but not for EPA and DHA.
Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio in the Diet
Most American diets provide at least ten times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. There is now general scientific agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and fewer omega-6 fatty acids for good health.
It is not known, however, whether a desirable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids exists for the diet or to what extent high intakes of omega-6 fatty acids interfere with any benefits of omega-3 fatty acid consumption.
Triglycerides are formed from three fatty acid molecules and one glycerol molecule. The main type of naturally occurring fat (lipids) consumed in the diet, triglycerides are found in meats, oils, butter, processed foods, and dairy that is not nonfat.
Also, the excess calories that we consume, such as carbohydrates, are converted into triglycerides.
Most of the body’s stored fat is in the form of triglycerides, which are transported through the blood to be used by the body’s tissues. High levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart attack or stroke.
Trans Fatty Acid
Trans fatty acid is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen atoms to vegetable oil, and that causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. This chemical process is called hydrogenation.
The resulting product is a partially hydrogenated fat, and it is added to certain processed foods for the purpose of giving them a longer shelf life.
Some common processed foods that have trans fat (or hydrogenated fats) are baked goods such as cakes, cookies, pie crusts, and crackers, as well as vegetable shortening and some margarines.
When added to food, trans fatty acid produces a very dangerous product that is a major risk factor for heart attack or stroke. It lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol and raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Dietary Fat Intake
Total Fat Intake
It is generally recommended to keep your total dietary fat intake to 30 percent or less of your total calories consumed. For example, if you consume two thousand calories of food daily, your total fat intake should be six hundred calories or less (30 percent of 2,000 = 600).
Saturated Fat Intake
Total saturated fat intake should be less than 10 percent of total calories consumed. For example, if you consume two thousand calories of food daily, your total saturated fat intake should be two hundred calories or less (10 percent of 2,000 = 200).
If you need to lower your cholesterol, reduce your saturated fat to no more than 5–6 percent of your total daily calories.
The following are very general suggestions for health and weight control. Please discuss them with your doctor before beginning any dietary changes:
- Eat fewer foods of animal origin, such as meat.
- Eat only fat-free or 1-percent low-fat dairy products.
- Eat more plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins are essential for many vital functions within the body, including normal growth and development, normal metabolism, and for regulating the function of the body’s cells.
The body requires these thirteen vitamins:
- Vitamin A, also known as Retinol
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- Vitamin B2, or Riboflavin
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Biotin (Vitamin B7)
- Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid
- Vitamin D (also referred to as “calciferol”)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Vitamins A, D, E, and K, and beta-carotene (which is not actually a vitamin but is converted into vitamin A). Any vitamin that is taken in excessive doses may be harmful. The most dangerous of which are vitamins A and D, which are toxic at high dosages.
All eight of the B vitamins and vitamin C.
There are more than sixty minerals in the human body. These minerals account for about 4 percent of our body weight. However, there are only about twenty-two minerals that are considered essential.
The following is a list of sixteen of the more familiar minerals found in the body:
There are seven minerals required by the body in relatively large amounts, from 100 milligrams to 1 gram: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur.
These are minerals that are required by the body in extremely small amounts. Examples are copper, iodine, zinc, fluoride, and selenium.
Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin A helps with vision, bone growth, reproduction, growth of epithelium (cells that line the internal and external surfaces of the body), and fighting infections.
It is fat-soluble and is found in liver, egg yolks, and whole-milk dairy products from animals and in fish oils. It can also be made in the body from a substance found in some fruits and vegetables, such as cantaloupes, carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A acid (aka all-trans-retinoic acid, ATRA, retinoic acid, or Tretinoin) is made in the body from vitamin A and helps cells to grow and develop, especially in the embryo.
A form of vitamin A acid made in the laboratory is put on the skin to treat conditions such as acne and is taken by mouth to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (a fast-growing cancer in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow).
Vitamin A and vitamin A acid are being studied in the prevention and treatment of other types of cancer.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps some enzymes work properly, helps break down sugars in the diet, and keeps nerves and the heart-healthy. Thiamine is found in pork, organ meats, peas, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Vitamin B-1 is water-soluble and must be taken in daily. Not enough vitamin B-1 can cause a disease called beriberi (a condition marked by heart, nerve, and digestive disorders). Too much vitamin B-1 may help cancer cells grow faster.
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps make red blood cells, helps some enzymes work properly, and keeps skin, nails, and hair healthy.
Riboflavin is found in milk, eggs, malted barley, organ meats, yeast, and leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B-2 is water-soluble and must be taken in every day. Not enough vitamin B-2 can cause anemia (a low number of red blood cells), mouth sores, and skin problems. Amounts of vitamin B-2 may be higher in the blood of patients with some types of cancer.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin and Nicotinic Acid)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps some enzymes work properly and helps skin, nerves, and the digestive tract stay healthy.
Vitamin B-3 is found in many plant and animal products. It is water-soluble and must be taken in every day. Not enough vitamin B-3 can cause a disease called pellagra (a condition marked by skin, nerve, and digestive disorders).
A form of vitamin B-3 is being studied in the prevention of skin and other types of cancer. Vitamin B-3 may also help to lower blood cholesterol.
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps some enzymes use foods to make many substances used in the body and protects cells against damage from peroxides.
Vitamin B-5 is found in almost all plant and animal foods, is water-soluble and must be taken in every day.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps keep nerves and skin healthy, fights infections, keeps blood sugar levels normal, produces red blood cells, and helps some enzymes work properly.
Vitamin B-6 is a group of related compounds (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine) found in cereals, beans, peas, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and bananas. It is water-soluble.
Not enough vitamin B-6 can cause mouth and tongue sores and nervous disorders.
Vitamin B-6 is being studied in the prevention of hand-foot syndrome (a disorder caused by certain anticancer drugs and marked by pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or redness of the hands or feet).
Vitamin B-7 (Biotin)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps some enzymes break down substances in the body for energy and helps tissues develop. Biotin is found in yeast, whole milk, egg yolks, and organ meats.
Vitamin B-7 (formerly known as vitamin H) is water-soluble and must be taken in every day.
Not enough vitamin B-7 can cause skin, nerve, and eye disorders. Vitamin B-7 is present in larger amounts in some cancer tissue than in normal tissue. Attaching biotin to substances used to treat some types of cancer helps them find cancer cells.
Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid or Folate)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps to make red blood cells.
Vitamin B-9 is found in whole-grain breads and cereals, liver, green vegetables, orange juice, lentils, beans, and yeast.
Folic acid is water-soluble and must be taken in every day. Not enough folic acid can cause anemia (a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal), diseases of the heart and blood vessels, and defects in the brain and spinal cord in a fetus.
Folic acid is being studied with vitamin B-12 in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin and Cyanocobalamin)
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that helps make red blood cells, DNA, RNA, energy, and tissues and keeps nerve cells healthy. It is found in liver, meat, eggs, poultry, shellfish, milk, and milk products.
Vitamin B-12 is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in every day. Not enough vitamin B-12 can cause certain types of anemia (a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal) and neurologic disorders.
It is being studied with folate in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin C helps fight infections, heal wounds, and keep tissues healthy. An antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals (highly reactive chemicals), vitamin C is found in all fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, and potatoes.
Vitamin C is water-soluble and must be taken in every day. Vitamin C is being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)
Vitamin D helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to make strong bones and teeth. It is fat-soluble and is found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and dairy products.
Not enough vitamin D can cause a bone disease called rickets. It is also being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer.
A form of vitamin D that helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to make strong bones and teeth is vitamin D-2, or ergocalciferol. It is fat-soluble and is found in plants and yeast.
Vitamin D-2 is made in the body from vitamin D when the body is exposed to the sun. It is also made in the laboratory and sold as a dietary supplement to help prevent and to treat vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D-3 is yet another form of vitamin D and is better at raising and maintaining required levels of vitamin D in the body.
Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)
Vitamin E boosts the immune system and helps keep blood clots from forming. It also helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals (highly reactive chemicals).
It is fat-soluble and is found in seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and vegetable oils.
Vitamin E is being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer. It is a type of antioxidant.
Vitamin K (K1 & K2)
Common forms of vitamin K in dietary supplements are phylloquinone and phytonadione (also called vitamin K1), menaquinone-4, and menaquinone-7 (also called vitamin K2).
Vitamin K helps to form blood clots and maintain strong bones. It is fat-soluble and is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, liver, and vegetable oils. Vitamin K is also made by bacteria that live in the large intestine.
Not enough vitamin K can lead to bleeding and bruising.
Boron is necessary to regulate the body’s use of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Calcium is essential for the growth and strength of bones. Calcium in the bloodstream is used in clotting of the blood, the control of blood pressure, the activation of enzymes, the contraction and relaxation of muscles (including the heart muscle), nerve transmission, and regulation of the passage of body fluids and other materials in and out of tissue cells.
Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. Vitamin D is vital to the storage of the body’s calcium.
Chloride is necessary for regulating fluid in the body, chloride is a component of the hydrochloric acid used by the stomach for the digestion of food. It also helps to maintain the acid-base balance of the body.
Chromium is a mineral that is required in trace amounts, although its mechanisms of action in the body and the amounts needed for optimal health are not well defined.
Chromium enhances the action of insulin and the storage of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in the body.
Necessary for formation of red blood cells, absorption of iron, and bone growth.
Helps to form bone and teeth and helps to prevent tooth decay.
A mineral found in some foods, especially iodized salt and seafood, The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions.
The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Getting enough iodine is important for everyone, especially infants and women who are pregnant.
The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles.
The body also needs iron to make some hormones and connective tissue.
Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure as well as making protein, bone, and DNA.
An essential component of many body enzymes. Necessary for healthy bone development, for production of sex hormones, and for production of carbohydrates and fats.
An essential component of many body enzymes.
Necessary for development of bones and teeth, and in the body’s utilization of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Regulates the balance of fluids in the body as well as helps to regulate the heart, the nervous system, and the kidneys.
Important for reproduction, thyroid gland function, DNA production, and protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and infection.
Necessary for regulating fluid in the body. Also important for muscle contraction and transmission of nerve impulses.
Located in cells throughout the body, zinc helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells.
During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.
There are more than forty other minerals in the human body that are not listed here.
Free Radicals, Antioxidants, and CoQ10
Unstable oxygen molecules that are responsible for a variety of health problems (including cancer, heart problems, cataracts, and speeding up of the ageing process), free radicals can build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules, such as DNA, lipids, proteins, and an unknown number of others.
The damage from free radicals is caused by the process of oxidation during normal metabolism, which results in the destruction of body tissues.
Oxygen has two atoms that are bound together, and when these oxygen atoms split to form a free radical they become unstable. This unstable oxygen molecule has only a single electron.
Substances that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Examples of antioxidants are beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins A, C, and E, and other natural and manufactured substances.
The body also produces certain enzymes and compounds that act as antioxidants.
CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10, Q10, ubiquinone, and vitamin Q-10)
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that is necessary for cells to function properly. It is found in plants, bacteria, animals, and people. Cells use CoQ10 to make the energy they need to grow and stay healthy.
CoQ10 can be found in the highest amounts in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Fish, meats, and whole grains all have small amounts of CoQ10, but not enough to significantly boost the levels in your body.
A variety of diseases, including some genetic disorders, are associated with low levels of CoQ10 Levels of CoQ10 decrease as you age. CoQ10 supplements may benefit some patients with cardiovascular disorders.
Researchers have also looked at the effects of CoQ10 for drug-induced muscle weakness, reproductive disorders, cancer, and other diseases. However, results from these studies are limited and not conclusive.
Phytochemicals (Plant Chemicals)
Certain phytochemicals are highly beneficial because they act as antioxidants by disposing of harmful free radicals. They also are believed to offer protection against heart disease and inhibit macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.
About four thousand phytochemicals have already been identified, and we know there are countless others that have not yet been discovered.
They have no nutritional value, they are not vitamins or minerals, and they don’t even have any calories. Nobody knows what amounts the body requires.
Another benefit of phytochemicals is that they add taste, smell, and colour to fruits and vegetables.
Some examples of foods that contain phytochemicals are berries, chilli peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, cabbage, seeds, grapes, tomatoes, soy, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, rosemary, ginger, oregano, and tea (green, black, or oolong, but not herbal tea).