All the information on checkyourfood.com is based on current scientific knowledge.
At checkyourfood.com we keep abreast of all the latest nutritional science and update you accordingly.
Research in this area is far from conclusive and is very much ongoing, much of the evidence is presented as for the prevention of disease. However the role of micronutrients in prevention could give rise to them having a role in the cure of disease.
For example the first controlled clinical trial involving micronutrients happened in 1747 when James Lind used citrus fruits to cure sailors with scurvy, from this experiment it was deduced that citrus fruits could be used to prevent scurvy. In 1933 vitamin C was isolated and credited with these scurvy healing and prevention powers.
Information on James Lind
We have kept the information to dietary intakes of nutrients affecting diseases and conditions rather than information regarding treatment using supplementation.
Click on a condition to find out about it:
High blood pressure
Low HDL cholesterol levels
Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent)
Choline - evidence suggests that may be significant in preventing memory loss, what may also be significant is that when choline deficiency is addressed, several other symptoms such as liver and muscle damage are reversed.
Curcumin - evidence from animal trials show that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) reduces the build-up of plaque in the brain and reduces inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain, all contributors to Alzheimer’s. Research is ongoing and larger human trials are needed to provide more conclusive evidence.
Folate - is essential for normal brain function and evidence has shown that elderly people with decreased levels of folate are much more likely to have dementia and short term memory problems.
(Interestingly one study showed that people with diets high in folate and ‘folic acid’ were associated with increased cognitive decline which could be evidence that synthetic folic acid may be interfering with natural folate)
Vitamin B12 - decreased levels of B12 and folate (these two work together) have been shown to increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
Iron – iron is required for normal brain function, however the accumulation of too much iron in the brain can lead to oxidative stress a potential pre-cursor to Alzheimer’s, this is not reckoned to be coming from too much iron in the diet but rather a problem with how our bodies regulate iron (maybe a warning against supplements)
Thiamin – animal studies have shown that thiamin deficiency is linked to Alzheimer’s, suggesting that thiamin could protect against Alzheimer’s.
Other Data sources - The Harvard Medical School
Flavonoids – higher flavonoid intakes have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Vitamin K1 – higher intakes of leafy greens such as spinach has been shown to significantly reduce cognitive decline. Scientists believe this to be coming from a synergy between vitamin K1, folate, beta carotene (vitamin A) and lutein, all of which are present in leafy greens.
Caffeine – higher intakes of caffeine amongst women over the age of 65 reduces the odds of dementia.
Coffee – several large studies have found that higher coffee intakes result in a significant decrease in the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Iron – iron is required for normal brain function, however the accumulation of too much iron in the brain can lead to oxidative stress a potential pre-cursor to Parkinson’s, this is not reckoned to be coming from too much iron in the diet but rather a problem with how our bodies regulate iron (maybe a warning against supplements)
Coenzyme Q10 - it has been shown in a test tube (in vitro) that the absence of Q10 can lead to the development of atherosclerosis.
Copper – some experts believe that copper deficiency, due to its antioxidant properties, can lead to an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
Flavonoids – have been shown to decrease inflammation and keep our cells talking to each other properly which helps to prevent atherosclerosis.
Iron – excess iron from animal sources has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, also when iron stores are high our bodies are better at regulating the iron from veg sources than the iron from animal sources, making it prudent not to take in too much iron from animal sources.
Alcohol – experts agree that the most consistent evidence for the health benefits of alcohol is in the area of heart disease and heart attack. More than 60 studies have shown that adults who drink 2 standard drinks a day have a significantly lower risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Omega 3 – evidence is accumulating that EPA and DHA omega 3 (from fish sources) can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke.
Vitamin C – has been shown in many studies to help with atherosclerosis by improving our arteries ability to relax.
Coffee – Clinical trials have not found any association between coffee consumption and cardiac arrhythmias.
Nuts – the combination of micronutrients in nuts have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Omega 3 EPA/DHA – evidence is accumulating that higher intakes of omega 3 EPA/DHA can reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing cardiac arrhythmias and coronary heart disease.
Fibre – studies have consistently found that high intakes of fibre rich foods leads to significant reductions in heart disease, particularly from cereal and fruit fibre. Three large studies showed that fibre intakes of 14g per 1,000 calories resulted in a 16-30% reduction in heart disease, (make sure your gut is healthy).
Folate – A study that followed 1,980 Finnish men for ten years found that those who consumed the most dietary folate had a 55% lower risk of an acute coronary event when compared with those who consumed the least dietary folate.
Vitamin C – overall the results from a number of studies have shown that a higher vitamin C intake lowers the risk of coronary heart disease.
Vitamin K1 – vitamin K1 intake has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whole grains – seven large studies have shown that higher intakes of whole grains leads to a significant reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.
Vitamin D - the results of several studies have shown that adequate vitamin D intake protects against autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, MS and diabetes.
Richard Doll and Richard Peto have reported that 10–70% (average 35%) of human cancer mortality is attributable to diet.
Doll, R. & Peto, R. The causes of cancer: quantitative estimates of avoidable risks of cancer in the United States today. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 66, 1191–1308 (1981).
Cruciferous vegetables – veg like cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, rocket, watercress, swede and turnips contain micronutrients that may work synergistically with each other to protect us from cancer. High intakes of these veg have been shown to reduce the risk of lung and bowel cancer. As these veg are chopped or chewed phytochemicals like isothiocyanates are created and these have been shown to eliminate carcinogens before they can damage DNA and protect us from the damaging cell distortions that lead to cancer. Studies of genetics have shown that people with certain ‘null’ genes, which make them more susceptible to cancer, actually absorb more of the cancer protective phytochemicals from cruciferous veg! Research is ongoing and experts say that we should aim for 5 servings of cruciferous veg a week.
Curcumin – curcumin the active ingredient in turmeric has been shown in a laboratory to cause human cancer cells to die off, and in animal studies has been shown to reduce the development of cancer. Curcumin has also been shown to inhibit pathological angiogenesis (the blood supply that tumours set up to feed themselves).
Flavonoids – various flavonoids have been found to inhibit the development of chemically induced cancers in animals and inhibit the development of pathological angiogenesis (the blood supply that tumours set up to feed themselves) however evidence from human studies that diets high on flavonoids greatly reduce cancer risk are inconsistent. This may be due to the fact that our understanding of the complex interactions between phytochemicals and other micronutrients in food is limited. However the flavonoids quercetin and myricetin have been shown in human studies to reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancer respectively.
Lycopene – higher intakes of tomato and tomato products have been linked with significant reductions in the risk of prostate cancer and research is ongoing.
Niacin – a large human study has shown that increasing the intake of niacin by 6mg per day is associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of mouth and throat cancers and esophageal cancer.
Phytosterols – whilst some studies have shown that higher intakes of phytosterols from plants is associated with a decrease in cancer risk, it is not fully understood whether this is due to the phytosterols, other compounds in plant foods, or the complex interactions that take place when eating foods, between phytochemicals and other micronutrients.
Selenium – geographic studies have consistently shown that there is a strong relationship between low selenium intakes and higher levels of deaths from cancer. Other studies have shown that selenium protects against prostate cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer particularly in smokers.
Tea – there have been promising results from animal studies as to the properties of tea preventing cancer, however it is unclear as to whether humans absorb enough of the flavonoids in tea to provide these protective effects. This is due to the differences between individuals in absorption and it seems to depend on whether or not you have low activity of a certain enzyme which allows the flavonoids to stay longer in your system thus providing a more powerful effect. Research is ongoing but it seems that the advice is to drink your tea at not too high a temperature.
Vitamin B12 – deficiency in this micronutrient renders folate unusable by the body. Folate is required for the creation of DNA and if it is disempowered this can lead to damage to our DNA which is an important risk factor in cancer.
Vitamin C – several large studies have found that high intakes of dietary vitamin C significantly reduces the risk of breast and stomach cancer.
Whole grains – studies have shown that people with higher whole grain intakes have a significantly lower risk of developing cancer particularly bowel cancers. However the grains must be stored correctly to avoid potentially carcinogenic fungus from affecting them.
Garlic – many studies in China have shown that diets high in garlic significantly protect against stomach cancer, however studies involving garlic supplementation have found no significant protection is afforded, so stick to natural garlic.
Vitamin D – studies have shown that decreased vitamin D levels increase the risk of developing several types of cancer.
Coffee – several studies have shown that coffee consumption by people with liver disease significantly reduces the risk of developing liver cancer and death from liver cancer.
Lutein and zeaxanthin – these two phytochemicals exist in the human eye and studies have shown that higher intakes of them make people less likely to develop macular degeneration and cataracts.
Riboflavin – studies have shown that higher dietary intake of riboflavin leads to a substantially reduced risk of developing cataracts.
Thiamin – two studies have shown that higher thiamin intake is associated with a 40% reduced risk of developing cataracts.
Vitamin C – some studies have shown that increased dietary intake of vitamin C is associated with a decreased risk of cataract formation.
Copper – the malabsorption associated with celiacs may lead to copper deficiency.
Iron - the malabsorption associated with celiacs may lead to iron-deficiency anaemia.
Magnesium - the malabsorption associated with celiacs may lead to magnesium deficiency.
Vitamin B12 - the malabsorption associated with celiacs may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Zinc - the malabsorption associated with celiacs may lead to zinc deficiency.
Omega 3 – ecological studies have suggested that a higher intake of fish to be related to lower levels of depression in a population. The evidence that this is due to omega 3 is promising but more evidence is need to conclude.
Vitamin B6 – has been shown to enable the brain to produce dopamine and serotonin and studies have shown that low B6 levels contribute to depression.
Vitamin B12 – studies have found that many patients submitted to hospital for depression are deficient in B12.
Vitamin C – has been shown to both prevent gout and prevent its re-occurrence.
Calcium – 23 large studies have shown that calcium intake at the RDA reduces blood pressure.
Potassium – relatively high dietary potassium intakes have been shown to lead to significantly lower blood pressures.
Vitamin C – studies have shown that reduced vitamin C levels in the blood lead to increased blood pressure.
Selenium – adequate selenium in the diet may increase resistance to HIV infection by enhancing the function of the immune system and affecting the activity of the virus.
Omega 3 EPA/DHA – omega 3 from fish sources has been shown to lower triglyceride in doses of 2g a day.
Copper – copper plays an important role in the development and maintenance of our immune systems.
Iron – sufficient iron is critical to several immune functions
Selenium – studies have shown that increased selenium leads to an enhanced immune response.
Vitamin A – even a mild deficiency in vitamin A leads to an increase in infectious disease.
Vitamin B6 – evidence has shown that adequate vitamin B6 is important for immune system function especially in older adults.
Vitamin D – has a variety of effects on our immune systems enhancing our overall immunity and stopping our immune systems from turning against us.
Vitamin E – has been shown to help our immune systems particularly as we age.
Zinc – adequate zinc intake is essential in keeping our immune systems effective.
Potassium – adequate dietary intake (RDA) of potassium has been shown to greatly reduce the incidence of kidney stone formation.
Tea – tea consumption has been shown to be associated with a reduced risk of developing kidney stones.
Alcohol – higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a reduction in the risk of heart disease and moderate alcohol consumption has been demonstrated to significantly increase HDL levels.
Regular exercise – has been shown to increase levels of HDL cholesterol.
Carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin are present in the retina and may protect against the damage that leads to macular degeneration.
Hormone balance – soy isoflavones may help to maintain the hormonal balance during menopause (enter Soy isoflavones in the search to see the highest ingredients).
Bone health - to maintain bone health during menopause a good intake of calcium rich foods along with vitamin D from oily fish or sunshine is recommended (enter sunshine in the search to see how much you need).
Healthy immune system - to maintain a healthy immune system during menopause by eating foods rich in vitamin C, zinc, iron, copper, vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium.
Overview - as with all health considerations it is important to maintain a good intake (RDA or more) of all nutrients with an emphasis on the above recommendations.
Fruits and vegetables - research is ongoing and the exact reasons are not fully understood but diets high in fruits and vegetables have been shown to prevent bone loss. This is largely due to their alkalising effects on the body preventing calcium from our bones being used to deal with the effects of a high acid diet.
Magnesium – higher dietary intakes of magnesium have been shown to result in increased bone mineral density and decreased bone mineral density is the primary feature of osteoporosis.
Potassium – several studies have shown that potassium rich foods may help to prevent osteoporosis by having a positive effect on our bone mineral density.
Vitamin D – we need enough vitamin D to properly absorb calcium which prevents bone loss.
Research has shown that the following micronutrients are beneficial during pregnancy to avoid complications.
Biotin (B7) – biotin is broken down more rapidly during pregnancy and biotin is needed for healthy baby development.
Folate (B9) - this is critical for healthy DNA and RNA which are vital for a developing baby.
Vitamin B12 – vitamin B12 is vital in enabling the work of folate.
Iron – studies have shown that anaemia can result in low birth weight and premature birth so sufficient iron is recommended.
Zinc – low zinc status has been associated with low birth weight, premature delivery and delivery complications.
Iodine - Iodine is critical to the early development of a baby’s brain and so Iodine levels are particularly important for pregnant and breast feeding women.
Alcohol – moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of ischemic stroke (the commonest form).
Omega 3 – diets that include fish have been shown to lead to a reduced risk of ischemic stroke and this has been attributed to the omega 3 content.
Potassium – several studies have suggested that higher dietary potassium intakes leads to a reduction in the risk of stroke especially in people with high blood pressure.
Vitamin C –higher blood levels of vitamin C have been shown to lower the risk of stroke, however the higher vitamin C was attributed to vegetable intake so there may be other properties to the veg that are also contributory factors.
Coffee – several studies have shown that higher intakes of coffee are associated with significant reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fibre – decreased fibre intakes have also been associated with the increase in type 2 diabetes. Higher intakes of dietary fibre is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Alcohol – a number of studies have found that adults who consume alcohol moderately significantly reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Biotin – blood biotin levels have been shown to be significantly lower in people with type 2 diabetes, interestingly diets high in nuts and peanut butter have been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women - nuts and peanut butter are high in biotin.
Whole grains – several large studies have found that higher whole grain intakes lead to a significant reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.