The Ultimate Guide to Your Best Diet – Part 2


How to have your Macro and Micro-nutrients too (and why!)

Originally published in Jejune Magazine


We must eat in order to live, since we need extraneous building blocks and nutrients to metabolize and convert into energy (ATP, adenosine triphosphate) and other vital end products for our cells to function properly. We are able to use some endogenous material as part of these building blocks, such as nonessential amino acids, but most have to be taken from our external environments – oxygen mainly via respiration and all other nutrients from the diet.

We are organisms that are composed of organic matter, namely carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. The function of breathing provides us with the number one essential nutrient, the aforementioned oxygen, which we inhale and absorb via the lining of the lungs. Since our body is composed of nearly 70% water (H2O, hydrogen monoxide), we also need to provide the body with water to replenish that which is lost via urination and perspiration (both of which are waste removal mechanisms). The rule of thumb is that a human being can survive up to three minutes without breathing, three days without water, and three weeks without food (of course, longer records have been set, but these are the average ballpark figures). So that goes to show you the relative importance of breathing, drinking and eating.

So now that we all agree that eating is vital to our survival and proper function, let’s look further into how we can nourish ourselves with the most high quality nutrients. As stated above, we are mostly composed of organic matter, which translates into our biggest nutritional needs for macronutrients: carbohydrates (including fiber), proteins, and lipids (fats). These nutrients can come from both plant and animal sources. The rest of our needs are filled by micronutrients, the “micro” referring to the much smaller amounts needed in proportion to the macros.

Micronutrients encompass the  vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K; vitamin C, variety of B vitamins, etc.) and trace minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, Boron, etc.). Vitamins can be subdivided into lipophilic (fat-soluble) and aqueous (water-soluble), and may differ vastly in structure and function from one another, without any affiliation under their abstract grouping.

Theoretically, most vitamins and minerals can be obtained by eating a varied diet that includes spices, herbs, and “superfoods.” A few vitamins, such as vitamin B12, choline, and omega-3 are much more easily obtained and readily absorbed from animal/fish sources, but in general most have adequate availability in plants (at least as precursors which can then be converted into a usable form in the body). The active form of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is only provided by sunshine to be absorbed via the skin, while all other sources have the ergocalciferol precursor which need vitamin A and K2 coenzymes for proper absorption.


Add Superfoods!

Some “powerhouse” foods are great source of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, such as cod liver oil (as a food or supplement) and grass-fed butter or ghee. Ghee, or clarified butter, would be the preferable source for people unable to tolerate dairy proteins. You can easily make your own ghee from butter by separating the dairy from the fat via boiling, or you can buy it from companies such as Pure Indian Foods. This company also infuses their ghees with herbs such as turmeric and brahmi, for extra anti-inflammatory and circulation boosting effects.

Common superfoods to consider to enhance your micronutrient intake come from the brassica and allium plant families. Kale, spinach, and broccoli are sources of vitamins A, C, K, calcium magnesium and folate. However, they are also high in oxalic acid, so people with certain conditions (some types of kidney stones) should cook these greens well rather than consuming them raw. Garlic and onion contain sulfur compounds and selenium, which help detoxify our body by enhancing our antioxidant pathways. In particular, they provide the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine to form GSH (glutathione enzyme).

Herbs such as alfalfa leaf, nettle leaf, comfrey leaf and red clover contain a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals to help our bodies function properly. These can be taken on a regular basis to enhance maximum absorption and use of resources. Horsetail is a rich source of silica, which is essential for hair, skin, nails as well as joints. This herb can be taken intermittently to optimize its benefits and reduce possible side effects (can be irritating for the urinary tract).

Sea vegetables and seaweeds are also great sources of trace minerals and vitamins. For example, blue-green algae (technically classified as cyanobacteria) such as chlorella and spirulina are more nutrient dense than kale or broccoli. They are rich sources of protein, vitamins (carotenoids – precursors to vitamin A, B, C, E, K), minerals (namely iron, among potassium, copper and magnesium) and antioxidants, such as chlorophyll. There have been some reports of contamination with spirulina supplements (with heavy metals and toxin-producing bacteria) , so perhaps sticking with chlorella may be the prudent choice for now.

Other seaweeds, such as nori (the same one used in sushi rolls!), kelp, dulse and bladderwrack, are rich in iodine, a nutrient essential for thyroid function. For best results, all different types of seaweed (brown, red, green) should be incorporated into the diet, with different preparation styles (raw, fermented, and cooked). However, I urge you to “start low, go slow” with this particular micronutrient, as too little or too much can result in a goiter. According to most sources, the standard supplementation doses are from 2-10 grams per day, but it may be prudent to start with as low as 500mg daily, and work one’s way up, if needed., Furthermore, this is best done under a medical practitioner’s care, while monitoring thyroid lab and symptom parameters.


Much of our western diet is artificially supplemented with trace minerals and vitamins, such as fortified grains and cereals. This is done in order to prevent malnutrition in the developed world, but it’s an important fact to be aware of in terms of overdosing via additional supplementation.

Salt is commonly “iodized” – meaning your conventional NaCl (sodium chloride, the chemical formula of salt) has some percentage of iodine in the granules. If you want to get your minerals from a less industrialized and mass-produced source, I’d suggest more natural salt alternatives such as himalayan, grey or sea salt. These salts are much more dense in minerals and nutrients, and have a much richer and fuller flavor, often requiring less salt and less sodium to season one’s meal. Although they don’t contain iodine, you can sprinkle some seaweed flakes into your food along with the salt, which will further enhance the salty profile (see above paragraph regarding careful dosing).

Yet a simpler way to ensure adequate intake of trace minerals are liquid supplement drops called “Trace Minerals.” You simply dilute the drops with a gallon of water, to diminish the somewhat metallic taste, and work your way up to about 40 drops a day for a full dose.

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