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Elitsa Dineva 7-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin A is an essential micronutrient that is obtained through the diet in two forms. Preformed vitamin A (retinol and retinyl ester) is derived from animal sources such as meat, dairy products, and fish. Provitamin A (beta-carotenoid) is derived from colorful fruits and vegetables. Both ingested forms of vitamin A must be converted to retinal and retinoic acid after absorption to support biologic processes.

There are different biological activities of vitamin A and carotenoids that are related to antioxidant properties, disease treatment and prevention, immune support, inhibition of tumor growth, and ability to induce apoptosis.

Increased diet intake of vitamin A and carotenoids may decrease the occurrence of some cancers (such as breast, cervical, ovarian, and colorectal cancer), cardiovascular and eye diseases, osteoporosis as well as diabetes.

Beta-carotene may help the body detect viruses, bacteria, and tumors. It may also have a powerful effect in boosting the activity of the class of immune cells known as natural killer cells in older men.

Vitamin A plays a vital role in bone growth, reproduction and immune health. It is essential to healthy vision, and may slow declining retinal function in people with retinitis pigmentosa.

Deficiency: One of the earliest signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness and if the deficiency is not addressed, it may lead to permanent blindness. Vitamin A deficiency also allows some infectious diseases such as measles and pneumonia to become deadly. More susceptible to vitamin A deficiency are alcoholics. Supplements may not be best for alcoholics, because vitamin A is stored in the liver, and existing liver damage could make them more susceptible to vitamin A toxicity. Instead, they should include more rich food sources of vitamin A in their diets.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Due to the association of vitamin A deficiency with weakened immunity, it is linked to several autoimmune diseases, including alopecia areata, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune hepatitis.

Top food sources of vitamin A:

  1. Liver
  2. Red Meat
  3. Pork
  4. Poultry
  5. Fish
  6. Shellfish
  7. Carrots
  8. Onion family
  9. Dark Leafy Greens
  10. Sweet potatoes


Elitsa Dineva 2-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin, part of the B vitamin family. Vitamin B6 is converted into the coenzyme form pyridoxal 5 ‘-phosphate (PLP). Pyridoxal-5-phosphate is involved in more bodily functions than almost any other single nutrient. It affects both mental and physical health and plays a role in the body’s defenses against cancer.

B vitamins, in general, help support adrenal function and maintain a healthy nervous system. They are also necessary for key metabolic processes, and are important to DNA synthesis.

Vitamin B6 acts as a coenzyme in the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It also supports the body’s detoxification process. It is needed for the production of neurotransmitters, which allow brain and nerve cells to communicate with one another, ensuring that metabolic processes such as fat and protein metabolism run smoothly. Vitamin B6 is also needed for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, an important antidepressant neurotransmitter.

Vitamin B6 helps maintain the balance of sodium and potassium in the body and thus plays a role in fluid balance regulation and the electrical functioning of the nerves, heart, and musculoskeletal system. B6 is also important for maintaining normal intracellular magnesium level. It contributes also to the production and synthesis of hemoglobin.

Vitamin B6 can help in managing conditions such as nerve compression injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and some cases of depression and arthritis. Along with folic acid and vitamin B12, vitamin B6 is often used to treat high homocysteine levels. Conditions such as memory loss, diabetes, asthma attacks, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), kidney stones, lung cancer, acne and atherosclerosis may also be improved by supplementation with vitamin B6.

Deficiency: Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to nerve damage in the hands and feet. Low intake of several B vitamins including vitamin B6 has been linked to cervical dysplasia. Some early studies from the 1930s involving rodents showed that a vitamin B6 deficiency resulted in decreased body fat, decreased liver lipids, and an impairment in lysosomal lipid degradation

B6 deficiency may compromise the immune response in humans, thus increasing the risk of infection and illness. People with alcoholism, cirrhosis, hyperthyroidism and congestive heart failure may be more susceptible to deficiencies. Some symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency include dermatitis, cracked and sore lips, inflamed tongue and mouth, confusion, depression and insomnia.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Deficiency in pyridoxal 5 ‘-phosphate (PLP) has been linked to type 1 diabetes.

Top foods rich in vitamin B6:

  1. Peppers
  2. Onion Family
  3. Pistachios
  4. Liver
  5. Fish
  6. Meat (poultry and red meat)
  7. Sunflower seeds
  8. Garlic
  9. Dark Leafy Greens

VITAMIN B9 (Folate)

Elitsa Dineva 9-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedFolate, along with other vitamins from the B family, helps to support adrenal function, to calm and maintain a healthy nervous system. It is also necessary for key metabolic processes. NOTE: Folate occurs naturally in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic form of folate.

Folate helps in the production of red blood cell. It also helps in the metabolism of many amino acids as well as in the formation of the nucleic acids for RNA and DNA. Folic acid has a fundamental role in the growth and reproduction of all cells.

Because folate is so important for the division of cells in the body, it is essential for human growth and development. Pregnant women have an increased need for folic acid, because it supports the growth of the placenta and fetus, and helps to prevent some birth defects, especially those of the brain and spine

Vitamin B9 supports normal nerve and brain functioning, and may help reduce blood-levels of the amino acid homocysteine (elevated homocysteine levels may lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke). Folate is involved in maintaining the body’s supply of methyl groups, and thus it helps with proper balancing of brain neurotransmitter levels. It may also help protect against cancers of the lung, colon, and cervix, and may help slow memory decline associated with aging.

Folate is recognized as one of the most important vitamins with regard to tissue turnover. It is also necessary in the complete catabolism of histidine to glutamate.

Deficiency: Because of its importance for human growth and development, vitamin B9 deficiency has been linked to birth defects, low birth weight, pregnancy loss, depression, memory loss, and cervical dysplasia. Alcoholics, pregnant women, and people living in institutional settings are at a higher risk of folate deficiency.

Folate deficiency leads to a megaloblastic macrocytic anemia. In this type of anemia, red blood cells are large and immature and their numbers are reduced, which results in reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Pathologic changes to the digestive tract mucosa also result from a folate deficiency.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Vitamin B9 deficiency has been associated with cerebral folate deficiency syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, celiac diseasese, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Top foods rich in vitamin B9:

  1. Organ meat
  2. Green vegetables
  3. Leafy greens
  4. Legumes
  5. Beets
  6. Asparagus
  7. Avocados
  8. Papayas
  9. Strawberries
  10. Seaweed


Elitsa Dineva 3-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin B12 is a water-soluble micronutrient and is the only vitamin that contains an essential mineral – namely cobalt. Cobalt is needed to make B12 and is essential for human health.

Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the metabolism of the nerve tissue and necessary for the health of the entire nervous system. The myelin sheath (or the outer wrapping of most nerves) requires vitamin B12 to form properly. Vitamin B12 stimulates growth and increases appetite in children. Along with iron, folic acid, copper, protein, vitamin C and B6, vitamin B12 is needed for the development and maintenance red blood cells.

Vitamin B12 stimulates the body’s metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also helps iron function better and is important for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, and neurotransmitters. As helps increase energy level, it is also called ‘’the energy vitamin’’.

Deficiency: Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, bleeding gums and mouth sores, nausea, poor appetite, and diarrhea. Unchecked vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to pernicious anemia, which can cause memory loss, confusion and even dementia.

Since we obtain B12 only from animal foods in our diet, deficiencies tend to develop among vegans, especially vegan children, who do not consume any animal products, and don’t take any additional supplements. However, the elderly, and those who have poor absorption and digestion are also at risk, as well as pregnant women or people who have intestinal disorders.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autoimmune atrophic gastritis, alopecia areata and type 1 diabetes.

Top foods rich in vitamin B12:

  1. Organ meat
  2. Fish
  3. Shellfish
  4. Red meat
  5. Pork
  6. Poultry
  7. Eggs
  8. Nutritional yeast
  9. Tempeh
  10. Grass-fed dairy


Elitsa Dineva 5-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is а water-soluble vitamin that primarily functions as an antioxidant. It helps the body form and repair connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin.

Vitamin C aids the synthesis of amino acids and collagen, as well as the metabolism of iron, lipids and cholesterol. It is essential for the formation of adrenal hormones and the production of lymphocytes.

Vitamin C helps to protect against heart disease, to prevent scurvy, and to decrease total and LDL (or the ‘bad’) cholesterol and triglycerides. A diet high in vitamin C may help protect against a variety of cancers by combating free radicals, and helping neutralize the effects of nitrites (preservatives found in some packaged foods that may raise the risk of certain forms of cancer). It has a direct effect on bacteria and viruses. It is also thought to help prevent osteoarthritis pain. Vitamin C supplementation may also lessen the duration and symptoms of a common cold, help delay or prevent cataracts, and support healthy immune function. Vitamin C cannot be manufactured or stored by the body, so daily dietary sources or supplements are needed for good immune function.


Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and muscle aches, bleeding gums, and leg rashes. Prolonged deficiency can cause scurvy, a rare but potentially severe illness.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Vitamin C deficiency is associated with lichen planus and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Foods rich in vitamin C:

  1. Citrus fruit
  2. Cruciferous veggies
  3. Leafy greens
  4. Peppers
  5. Kiwi
  6. Berries
  7. Tropical fruit
  8. Melons
  9. Herbs
  10. Sweet potatoes


Elitsa Dineva 6-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is actually a fat-soluble hormone that the body can synthesize naturally. There are several forms, and the following two are important to humans: D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is synthesized by plants, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is synthesized by humans when skin is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from sunlight. The active form of the vitamin is calcitriol, synthesized from either D2 or D3 in the kidneys.

Vitamin D controls the expression of more than 200 genes. It assists in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and promotes bone mineralization, which may prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and protect against a number of serious diseases, including rickets and osteomalacia. Vitamin D may also help in preventing  hypertension, psoriasis, several autoimmune diseases (including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis), and reduce the incidence of fractured bones. In addition, it may have an important role in defending against cancer (vitamin D deficiency has been linked to as many as 18 different cancers).

Here are some of the main functions of vitamin D:

  • mineral metabolism
  • bone mineralization and growth
  • biosynthesis of neurotrophic factors
  • hormone regulation
  • cell survival and division
  • circadian rhythms

Deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially in industrialized countries in northern latitudes, where sun exposure is typically infrequent. Low levels of vitamin D may be indicated by porous bones, weak muscles and easy fracturing.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to autoimmune disease and has been implicated as an environmental trigger for systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune interstitial lung disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Top foods rich in vitamin D:

  1. Fish
  2. Grass-fed dairy
  3. Oysters
  4. Pastured eggs
  5. Grass-fed meat
  6. Pasture-Raised meat
  7. Shrimp
  8. Other shellfish
  9. Mushrooms (D2)
  10. Tofu (D2)


Elitsa Dineva 4-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that primarily functions as a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties are crucial to cardiovascular health. It can also have a positive effect on our immune health.

Vitamin E is also necessary for structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It helps in the production of red blood cells and to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. It may have preventive effects against cancer, help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and may help prevent some diabetes-related damage, particularly to the eyes.

Deficiency: Symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency include greasy stools, chronic diarrhea, and an inability to secrete bile. People who cannot absorb dietary fat or who have rare disorders of fat metabolism cannot absorb vitamin E. In addition, premature or very low birth weight infants (less than 1,6 kg) and individuals with rare genetic abnormalities in the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein may also be at risk for a vitamin E deficiency. Those with metabolic syndrome could be chronically deficient in vitamin E. While vitamin E appears to be readily available in the bloodstream of those with metabolic syndrome, it’s not finding its way to the tissues where it’s needed, resulting in a hidden deficiency.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Vitamin E deficiency has been implicated in psoriasis, vitiligo, alopecia areata, and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin E supplementation reduced inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Top food sources of vitamin E:

  1. Nuts
  2. Seeds
  3. Leafy greens
  4. Avocado
  5. Olives
  6. Organ meat
  7. Shellfish
  8. Unrefined plant oils
  9. Fatty fish
  10. Winter Squash


Elitsa Dineva 8-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedVitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and its two main forms are K1 and K2. There is also a third form – K3. K1 is the dominant form we get from food and is very poorly absorbed by the body. K2 is easily absorbed. We get it from animal foods and fermented foods, as well as from our gut bacteria.

Vitamin K is necessary for the activity of an enzyme that supports the chemical reaction of carboxylation. Carboxylation is very important for modification of proteins and it changes how these proteins can bind to calcium. Therefore, vitamin K plays an important role in calcium metabolism through the activation of different proteins.

This vitamin K role is applied in 3 main areas – blood clotting, regulation of a protein called GAS6, and the control of where calcium goes in the body (therefore important for bone formation, bone and teeth health, preventing calcification).

Vitamin K and blood clotting: Vitamin K is needed to activate 4 very important steps in this process and thus to clot. It also regulates clotting by preventing abnormal clots.

Vitamin K may also have antiaging properties because of its role in regulating the Gas6 protein, which is involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, cells activation.

Together with vitamin D, vitamin K controls calcium regulation in the body. Vitamin D helps with controlling the amount of calcium in the blood and vitamin K controls where calcium goes. It can activate a specific protein in bones and teeth that promotes the accumulation of calcium. Vitamin K also activates another protein called MGP, which prevents calcium from accumulating in soft tissues such as blood vessels and kidneys.

Deficiency: While rare, a deficiency in vitamin K can lead to defective blood clotting, increased bleeding and osteopenia. Symptoms include easy bruising, gastrointestinal bleeding, excessive menstrual bleeding and blood in the urine. Those most at risk for a vitamin K deficiency include people with chronic malnutrition, those with alcohol dependency, and anyone with health conditions that limit absorption of dietary vitamins.

Top food sources of vitamin K:

  1. Natto
  2. Eggs
  3. Grass-fed dairy (full-fat)
  4. Liver
  5. Fish
  6. Cruciferous veggies
  7. Leafy greens
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Prunes


Elitsa Dineva 11-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedCopper is an essential trace mineral, present in all body tissues. It helps in the formation of connective tissue, and plays a role in the normal functioning of muscles as well as of the immune and nervous systems.

Copper is needed by the human body for normal growth and health. Along with iron, copper is a very important component in the formation of red blood cells. Copper is necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron. It also influences the functioning of the heart and arteries, helps prevent bone defects such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and promotes healthy connective tissues (hair, skin, nails, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels). The immune system requires copper to support the production of some cytokines by T-cells and regulate T-cell division, and dietary copper is important in resistance to infection.

Deficiency: Copper deficiency is rare, but can occur in people who are severely undernourished or who have chronic diarrhea. Health conditions that compromise nutrient absorption, such as Crohn’s disease, can also lead to copper deficiency, as can high dietary intakes of iron or zinc. Signs of deficiency include bleeding under the skin, damaged blood vessels, hair loss, pale skin, and an enlarged heart. Symptoms include fatigue and imbalances that lead to higher infections susceptibility (because of its role in supporting the immune system).

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Deficiency is associated with rheumatoid arthritis and pemphigus vulgaris.

Top food sources rich in copper:

  1. Liver and other organ meat
  2. Shellfish
  3. Nuts
  4. Seeds
  5. Lentils
  6. Dark chocolate
  7. Dried apricots
  8. Asparagus
  9. Leafy Greens
  10. Mushrooms


Elitsa Dineva 10-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedIodine is a non-metallic mineral which is required in trace amounts by the human body for proper development and growth. Most of the body’s stores of iodine are located in the thyroid gland. Iodine is needed for the development and proper function of the thyroid. The thyroid gland requires iodine for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, which regulate all key metabolic functions including blood cell production and nerve and muscle function. These hormones also regulate body temperature.

Iodine also normalizes elevated adrenal corticosteroid hormone secretion related to the stress response. Iodine, when applied topically, also helps prevent wounds from becoming infected. Iodine tablets dissolved in water could be used as water purifier in emergency situations.

Deficiency: Signs of iodine deficiency include an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), and weight gain, as well as symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue and cold intolerance. Chronic iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid gland dysfunction as well as to neurologic, gastrointestinal, and skin abnormalities. Iodine deficiency in pregnant or nursing mothers can result in deficiency during fetal and child development, and is the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Deficiency is associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease.

Foods rich in iodine:

  1. Seaweed
  2. Fish
  3. Shellfish
  4. Unrefined sea salt
  5. Grass-fed dairy
  6. Eggs
  7. Poultry
  8. Legumes
  9. Prunes
  10. Bananas


Elitsa Dineva 12-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedIron is found in every cell of the body, almost all of it combined with protein.

The primary function of iron in the body is the formation of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin – and therefore iron – gives us our strength and the look of good health (that is our rosy cheeks). Therefore, one of the first symptoms of low iron is weakness, fatigue and loss of stamina.

Many of the oxygen-dependent diseases (diseases that have symptoms based on circulation and the delivery of oxygen to tissues), such as coronary artery disease, vascular insufficiency, are worsened with iron deficiency.

Iron is serves as a cofactor for some important enzymes for energy production and protein metabolism. When iron in the body is low, there seems to be an increased incidence of infections. Iron is also helpful in the production of carnitine, a nonessential amino acid important for the oxidation and utilization of fatty acids.

Deficiency: Iron deficiency leads to lower hemoglobin production and therefore less oxygen supply to our tissues. Iron deficiency anemia is a well-known and very common problem. Because our bodies require more iron during growth, iron deficiency is more common in infancy, childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. However, the elderly can also become deficient due to poorer absorption and diet. Iron, along with calcium and zinc, is one of the most commonly deficient minerals in our diet. Complete vegetarians have trouble obtaining sufficient iron from the diet alone.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Iron deficiency is a hallmark of autoimmune hemolytic anemia, autoimmune aplastic anemia, and pernicious anemia. Deficiency is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune gastritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome and celiac disease.

Top food sources of iron:

  1. Liver and other organ meat
  2. Shellfish
  3. Red meat
  4. Leafy greens
  5. Green vegetables
  6. Legumes
  7. Olives
  8. Nuts
  9. Seeds
  10. Dark chocolate


Elitsa Dineva 13-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedMagnesium is an essential dietary mineral, about 65% of which is found in our bones and teeth, and the remaining 35% – in the blood, fluids, and other tissues.

In the human body, magnesium is used primarily as an electrolyte (it helps regulate nerve and muscle function and maintain acid-base balance and water balance). It is also a mineral cofactor for enzymes, playing an essential role in more than 300 regulatory enzyme systems which control muscle, nerve, bone, protein, DNA, glucose, energy metabolism, and calcium and phosphorus metabolism.

Magnesium critically stabilizes enzymes, including many ATP-generating reactions. ATP is the main source of energy in cells that is needed for many crucial processes such as glucose utilization, synthesis of fat, proteins, nucleic acids and coenzymes, muscle contraction, methyl group transfer. Magnesium contributes to the regulation of vascular tone, heart rhythm, and bone formation. Therefore, any interference with magnesium metabolism might also influence these functions. With other words, all these vital functions are all magnesium dependent.

Magnesium also has a role in the production of testosterone and progesterone, in the metabolism of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, B vitamins, and vitamins C and E.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Deficiency is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Foods rich in magnesium:

  1. Seaweed
  2. Dark Leafy Greens
  3. Chives
  4. Pumpkin seeds
  5. Fish
  6. Soy
  7. Brazil nuts
  8. Sunflower seeds
  9. Other nuts and seeds
  10. Avocados


Elitsa Dineva 15-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedSelenium is a mineral required in trace amounts for normal health, and is an essential element in several metabolic pathways. Selenium is found in soil, water, and some foods.

It has antioxidant properties that help the body prevent cellular damage from free radicals, and one of its most important roles is as a cofactor of a powerful antioxidant enzyme in the body called glutathione peroxidase. It also helps support the immune system, regulates thyroid function, and may help reduce the risk of prostate and secondary cancers. It also plays a role in the prevention of cataracts and heart disease. Selenium helps protect against the toxic effects from arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. It is needed for proper absorption of vitamin E. Selenium works synergistically with vitamin E to protect tissues and cell membranes, aid in the production of antibodies, and help maintain a healthy heart and liver.

Deficiency: A deficiency in selenium can affect thyroid function and lead to diseases such as: Keshan Disease (enlarged heart and poor heart function in children), Kashin-Beck Disease (results in osteoarthropathy), and Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism (results in mental retardation). Symptoms can include muscle weakness and pain.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Deficiency is associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, pemphigus vulgaris and lichen planus.

Foods rich in selenium:

  1. Shellfish
  2. Fish
  3. Organ meat
  4. Red meat
  5. Chicken
  6. Nuts (especially Brazil nuts)
  7. Leafy greens
  8. Eggs
  9. Cruciferous veggies
  10. Mushrooms


Elitsa Dineva 14-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedZinc is a mineral that is necessary for the functioning of enzymes and plays a vital role in many biological processes, including cell division, growth, wound healing, and proper immune system function.

Zinc helps maintain optimum immune function and boosts immunity. It is also a component of key enzymes that help preserve vision and protect against age-related vision loss, including macular degeneration. It further plays a role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism, and may be beneficial as a supplement for people with severe diarrhea, sickle cell anemia, gastric ulcers, and acne. In addition, it is vital for normal fetal development and the maturation of sperm.

Its main antioxidant function is in the prevention of fat oxidation. Zinc is an important regulator of intestinal permeability. It is also needed for proper maintenance of vitamin E levels in the blood and aids in the absorption of vitamin A. It plays an important role in the health of the reproductive organs, is essential to prostate function, and boosts testosterone levels.

It improves antibody response to vaccines and can improve cell-mediated immunity by helping regulate the function of the white blood cells.

Zinc is important to normal insulin activity and is also related to normal taste sensation. Zinc may have an anti-inflammatory function, especially in the joints and artery linings. It may also be involved in brain function. Zinc may be also beneficial in preventing dental caries.

Deficiency: Signs of zinc deficiency include hair loss, weight loss, delayed wound healing, chronic infection, and rough skin or rashes. Symptoms include poor appetite, depression and mental lethargy.

Deficiency and autoimmunity: Deficiency is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, pemphigus vulgaris, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, autoimmune thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.

Foods rich in zinc:

  1. Oysters
  2. Liver
  3. Crab
  4. Wild Game (red meat)
  5. Lobster
  6. Red meat (farmed)
  7. Clams
  8. Other organ meat
  9. Mushrooms
  10. Seaweed


Elitsa Dineva 16-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedDHA and EPA are omega-3 long-chain unsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil. These omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, protect against some cancers, increase insulin sensitivity, and improve endothelial function.

Their main effect is to help lower blood fat levels. Increased intake of EPA and DHA may lower the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or the ‘good’ cholesterol. The lipid-lowering effects of EPA and DHA, along with some benefits in reducing platelet aggregation and clotting potential, make their use important in the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular disease or in anyone with high blood fats or low HDL. They also have anti-inflammatory effects that may also be helpful in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. EPA and DHA supplementation has been shown to reduce joint stiffness and soreness and to improve flexibility. It may also be beneficial for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune-mediated glomerulonephritis.

Deficiency: Omega-3 fats deficiency has been linked to dyslexia, violence, depression, anxiety, memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease, weight gain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, eczema, allergies, asthma, inflammatory diseases, arthritis, diabetes, as well as to autoimmune diseases.

Foods rich in DHA&EPA:

  1. Fish
  2. Shellfish
  3. Grass-fed meat
  4. Organ meat from grass-fed animals
  5. Grass-fed dairy
  6. Seaweed

Note: nuts and seeds can be very high in ALA, which can be converted into DHA and EPA, although inefficiently.


Elitsa Dineva 17-300x300 Essential nutrients for optimal health. Deficiencies and link to autoimmunity. UncategorizedPhytochemicals are compounds in plants that are essential for optimal health and disease prevention.

They primarily function as antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory, antitumor and cardioprotective properties. Phytochemicals are responsible for giving many fruits and vegetables their rich colors and unique scents. Certain phytochemicals have the ability to slow the growth of cancer cells, help regulate hormones, prevent DNA damage, protect against oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and induce apoptosis (death) in damaged cells.

Supplementation has been shown to be beneficial in autoimmune thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.