So just the other day, I was talking to my friend about choline in my diet said no one, ever!
Although micronutrients get no love, they are a integral component of the every day functions of our bodies. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and other critical substances that facilitate body functions like producing enzymes and hormones for healthy growth, immunity, and brain function. Check out my conversation with the lovely Eileen Whelan on Good Morning Washington here (<—-CLICK THIS!), and learn about 3 important micronutrients, choline, copper, and zinc!
One micronutrient that is getting more attention from researchers is choline. Choline isn’t a vitamin or a mineral; it’s actually a “vitamin-like’ substance that is involved in using and transporting fats to protect the liver and producing neurotransmitters for healthy brain function. Adult women should get about 425 mg for women and adult men should get about 550 mg.
A big issue with choline, is that we don’t have a good way to accurately measure the amount of choline in your body, so we can’t tell if you have too much, too little, or just enough! Research has shown that choline helps prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies, similar to the way that folic acid does. At this time, doctors recommend that women of reproductive age take folic acid to make sure that if they become pregnant, they have plenty of folic acid to facilitate the normal development of their baby. We don’t have that kind of information about choline yet, but keep an eye out for updates to choline recommendations and testing in the near future!
While choline supplements aren’t recommended at this time, you can get plenty of choline from your food. Some sources of choline include eggs, meat, fish, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts), peanuts, dairy, and…wait for it…milk chocolate!
One egg provides about 147 mg of choline, so that is more than 25% of your daily needs!
CRAB AND ASPARAGUS OMELETTE
1/4 cup of crab meat
1/4 cup of asparagus
1/4 cup of brie cheese, rind removed
Heat a pan over medium heat. Add oil, butter or spray to the pan. Rinse and chop asparagus. Add asparagus and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place in a separate dish. Whisk 3 eggs together and add to the pan when hot. Allow eggs to cook and flip to cook the other side. Remove egg from the pan and place on a plate. Cut brie into slices, place on half of the omelette, add asparagus and flip the top of the egg over the ingredients. Top with chives, if you want, and EAT!
This glorious omelette provides:
470 mg of choline, 300 micrograms of copper, and 2.75 mg of zinc
I know that the question you’re dying to ask is…well what about copper? No? Hmmm. Well I’m gonna tell you anyway! Copper was in the news last year when the Moscow Mule drink became popular. It turned out the the copper mugs everyone was using for those drinks were leaking copper into the liquid and causing people to have toxic levels of copper in their bodies. They found that mugs with a lining barrier were safe, though. Good news (for me at least)!
Copper is an essential mineral that works with enzymes, helps convert iron into a usable form for making red blood cells, nervous system function, and promotes healthy connective tissue, like elastin and collagen. Possible conditions found in people with severe copper deficiency include anemia and liver damage. The recommendation for adults is 900 micrograms (just under 1 mg) every day.
Some sources of copper include shellfish, liver, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and…wait for it (AGAIN!) chocolate!
Lemon Quinoa and Chickpea salad with Chicken (makes 2 servings)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken, chopped (you can use rotisserie, baked, or sauteed)
1 cup quinoa (cooked in low sodium chicken broth, trust me!)
1 cup spinach, fresh, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, canned
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Mix the ingredients for the dressing together. Combine all of the ingredients for the salad. Top with dressing. It’s as easy as that!
If you want a warm salad (as I usually do), saute the quinoa, chicken, spinach and chickpeas until warm. Remove from eat, plate, and top with the green onion, parsley, pepitas, and feta cheese. This makes an incredible leftover dish- just keep the dressing separate until ready to serve/eat.
This salad (AKA my new favorite dish) provides (per serving):
120 mg of choline, 1000 micrograms of copper, and 6.5 mg of zinc
I’ve saved the best for last 😉 …Zinc!
Zinc supports the activity of hundreds of enzymes in the body, healthy immune system function, neurological function, and proper growth. Zinc supplements may be helpful for reducing the duration of the common cold, but the research is mixed. Recommended zinc intake for adult women is 8 mg and 11 mg for adult men.
You can find zinc in red meat, shellfish, dark meat poultry, eggs, beans and nuts. But wait! There’s a catch. The phytates and fiber in whole grains and beans interfere with the absorption of zinc. Luckily, pairing foods rich in vitamin C with your zinc-rich meals can improve absorption.
The delectable and super-easy omelette above (that you should totally make) has 2.75 mg of zinc in it. Huzzah!
If you’re a vegan, it’s very important to eat a balanced diet and work with a dietitian or your doctor to ensure that you are getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals that can help keep your body functioning at it’s best.
Overall, it is important to remember that a wide variety of foods can help you meet your needs for these nutrients and most others. There isn’t very good research supporting the use of supplements for any of these nutrients. So when in doubt, stick with a varied diet and regular conversations with your doctor about your nutrition and supplementation or avoidance, if needed (sometimes in the case of genetic conditions that may increase or decrease absorption of these nutrients).
Please note: This post is NOT meant to treat or diagnose health conditions. Please consult your doctor.