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Dear Cia Column

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:48 am

Dear Avocado,

Very good!  I like that you're thinking about growing your own food!  It will certainly help compliment your rabbit thing. ^^

Here are a few quick tips that you can consider when starting on this wonderful journey:

1) Avoid pesticides -- you're going to be eating this stuff, so you definitely don't want this in your body if you don't have to.  

2) Avoid monocultures -- don't grow huge fields of the same crop as this is practically a dinner table for bugs and diseases, which then necessitates the dumping of pesticides on this field.  Always mix it up with other vegetables and plants and even weeds; some plants may, for example, attract birds or bugs that might eat the pests eating your vegetables. 

3) Look into turning pests into partners -- if you can get some chickens or guinea fowl, have them be used as natural "insecticides" -- they can eat the bugs invading your crops, and the extra nutrition, in turn, would make great eggs (or poultry) for you.  Granted, you could also consider eating the bugs directly if they're edible, but i know not everyone is quite ready for this yet, lol. XD
Also note that many bugs, such as earthworms, help till the soil for you, so DONT KILL THEM!  

4) Avoid planting things that leech soil nutrients -- grain, and especially corn, are notorious soil suckers -- avoid these wherever possible if you care about maintaining good top soil.

5) Invite plants that can ADD soil nutrients -- nitrogen fixers, such as alfalfa and clover, act as a kind of self-sustaining fertilizer for your soil.  And they can be delicious too.

6) COMPOST! -- buy a barrel drum or a big plastic box, and start getting into the habit of tossing in kitchen scraps, dead plants, leaves, some clippings, even mashed-up bugs or ground bone.  Collect water from washing dishes into a 5 gallon bucket, then use this to periodically water your compost.  Turn frequently, observing how intensely HOT it gets in the center!  Your compost will decompose overtime and eventually turn into a kind of soil humus extremely rich in nutrients, the kind that help plants grow like crazy!  And when you consider it's all free and made only with scraps you'd toss away anyway, well this is a great way to turn garbage into gold!

7) Don't let your soil dry up... the sun can easily crack and dry exposed soil.  Always make sure it's covered by some kind of greenery, be it grass or even weeds.  If none are growing, add dead green leaves as a kind of makeshift mulch -- and if the area exposed is too large, you can use real mulch or a tarp to cover it temporarily.  The idea is to prevent the moisture from being dried out of the soil. making it uninhabitable for plants as it turns into a kind of mini desert.

Cool As with the pests earlier, make the most of weeds -- weeds are great pioneers in soils that are too harsh for common vegetables to grow in.  They can easily take root there and shade the area from the sun, allowing the area to become a nutrient-rich paradise, at which point you can remove the weeds and plant your vegetables.  Don't be afraid to have some weeds cohabit with your vegetables -- sometimes a little competition or company is good at making your vegetables a bit stronger and more resilient.  Lastly, take note that some "weeds" are in fact useful and even edible -- if you get into the habit of harvesting dandelions (a great source for prebiotics!) or lamb's quarters, your "infestation" can suddenly be turned into a buffet, one that practically grows itself and keeps on coming!

9) Don't forget that plants are living beings -- just because they move very slowly and can't make sounds doesn't mean they aren't alive.  Observe them, learn about them, have fun with them, and appreciate the vibrant ecosystem that you'll have in your garden!


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by a4955 on Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:33 am

Dear cia,
On a scale of 1-10, what is the most stressed you have been and why. (Of course I'm probably going to get a short answer cause it's kinda personal =P)
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Haasman29 on Tue Jun 02, 2015 5:01 pm

Dear Cia,

How many dishes can you make with dandelions? I'm curious about how many ways we can eat them.
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by BrandonBui on Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:19 pm

Dear Cia,
What would you do if you were the one survivor in a devastating plane crash?
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by HannahChi on Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:17 pm

Dear Cia:
Why is Quorn evil?

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:00 am

*brain explodes*  Phew, not used to seeing an actual BACKLOG of questions... XD

Anyway, currently overwhelmed by work, play and coconut bashing, so I'll have to take a raincheck.  I hope to get to these tomorrow at least... thank you for your patience. ^^

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by a4955 on Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:52 am

Lol, when I ask a question about stress, cia gets overwhelmed by work.
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:36 am

Dear a4,

Yeah, y u do dis to me?  XD

Anyway, yep, that's a personal question.  >v<
But I will say this... I think everyone has at some point or another experienced a 10 relative to what they know, so it's a trick question.  In my case it would have been due to deaths in the family, with other life's problems having to do with school, work, illness, relationships, and money taking a distant second.  But I doubt I'm alone in that.  

--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:15 am

Dear Avocado,

Personally, I've only done dandelion fritters. Since most of them grow out in the front lawn where there is people and dog traffic (and since, ironically, they didnt come out much this year), I haven't had as many opportunities to try out other dishes -- I did seed them in a closed-off area so we'll see in a few months how they behave.  ^^

I do however know a few things that can be done with the different parts of the plant...

Use the roots to...
- make a convincing coffee substitute
- make a tea
- eat them straight up or juice like little carrots
- slice and fry them into chips 

Use the greens to...
- eat them like a salad
- mix into a salad
- add as part of a vegetable juice
- turn into pesto
- steam like spinach
- use as a garnish
- add to chicken noodle soup for added medicinal punch

Use the yellow flowers to...
- fry into fritters (great with egg and cheese!)
- make a soup (similar to squash blossom soup)
- add into baked goods
- turn into jelly
- turn into syrup
- and, more famously, to make into wine! 

I do so love this famous quote...
"What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.". -Ralph Waldo Emerson


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by HannahChi on Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:39 pm

Dear Cia:
What causes "brain freeze"?

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Haasman29 on Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:10 pm

Dear Cia,

How am I able to help someone who is depressed?
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:30 pm

Dear BUI,

Wow, what a macabre question.  D:
It largely depends where the plane would crash... Either in an area close to civilization or somewhere remote (a la Castaway), and also how many passengers there are.  If its close to civilization, there isn't a whole lot that I can do of any extraordinary sense... Just wait for help and see if I can catch a cellphone signal to call for help if needed.  If its a water crash, I'd be too busy swimming or being on a raft, perhaps worried for sharks and jellyfish if they might be in that location.

I might try to look for survivors, but I would try not to move anyone from their position right away as that could impede a potential crash investigation.  Depending on whether its safe or not, I might try to look for my bag (I always bring a carry-on, and never check in anything), mainly because I always keep a small first aid kit and food with me when traveling -- if it's not safe, I'd try to get as far away from the plane as possible in case and engine or something should explode.

If I'm hurt or incapacitated, I'll try not to move around a lot to avoid worsening my condition... And hope the situation won't be terribly traumatic.  It might take me a few days before I'm able to tell the hotel staff to not feed many any damn wheat, and no doubt I would have to deal with press and stuff as well. ><

There are arguably more things to do in a lone survivor situation, but since you didnt specify that in your question, I'll just be lazy and assume you meant close to civilization and well within a cell tower.  If you wanted the latter, ask a new question and please be specific.  XD


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:26 pm

Dear Hannah,

Well "evil" is too harsh a word, especially since we still don't know a whole lot about this product.  And therein lies the problem... it's so new and relatively untested as a component of the human diet, that there is no way for us to know at this time whether this product is neutral or even harmful to us. Plus it's a solution looking for a problem, so unless you're allergic to all foods except heavily-processed industrial byproduct meat substitutes, there is no real need for this thing.

For the uninitiated, Quorn is a meat substitute product in the UK made from fermented and dehydrated microprotein derived from a microfungus called Fusarium venenatum, and mixed in with other byproducts to give it a similar texture and taste to fake meat.  This is not the same as eating a portabella mushroom burger, but rather almost like eating a yeast burger or a blue cheese fungus burger. Here's a picture...



Or if that's not enough, have a video...



Yum!  I can feel the drunk mycologist in me drooling already!  XD

So is Quorn processed?  Most certainly, if it's made by the largest chemical company in Britain.  Does it come from a natural source?  Kinda... I mean it's not natural to accumulate so many of these critters in one spot, and accumulate their ooze (or their poop? their dead? their dandruff?) for consumption. In fact, until the creation of Quorn, Fusarium venenatum has never ever been used as a food source.  In the race to create a meat substitute that would appease to vegetarian/vegans, health nuts and armchair ecologists, the race to create a meat substitute from something... anything... there is an awful lot of risk of using something that may seem great on paper now, but in a few years could end up being harmful or deadly (ie, agave nectar, hypdrolized vegetable protein, soy milk, etc).  It doesn't help that the name of the fungus translates to "full of venom". XD

Since it's still too new, there hasn't been much in the way of studies or cases of direct toxicity from consuming this product, though there are at least some reported cases of adverse effects possibly related to this, such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, as well as severe allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock.  Two deaths have even been suspected of being linked to Quorn, although again it's too new to determine this as fact.  A closer look at one of their burger substitutes also reveals a whole cacophany of food additives and preservatives that's bound to irk longtime readers:

- Mycoprotein (37%) [a surprisingly-small amount of microprotein in this product!]
- Textured Wheat Protein [bingo! our old friend wheat strikes again!]
- Rehydrated Egg White [egg whites being the source for egg allergies]
- Rapeseed Oil [the real name for canola oil, at least they're more honetst about what it actually does]
- Milk Protein Concentrate [industrial byproduct of the dairy industry, also a great source of casein, a potent allergen]
. Natural Flavoring from Non Meat Sources [possibly a thin disguise for a glutamate, such as MSG, that serves as a debilitating excitotoxin]
- Roasted Barley Malt Extract [MORE GLUTEN, YAY!!!]
- Potato Maltodextrin [a mere filler, but one that can mess with your gut bacteria as well as your blood sugar]
- Dextrose [fancy term for potatoe sugar... it's still sugar, and will spike your blood sugar] XD
- Sugar [SURE!  Add more sugar, why not?!] XD
- Smoked Yeast [if fungi aren't enough little critters to eat]
- Maize Maltodextrin [wow, even MORE filler; rinse and repeat he same warning as potato maltodextrin]
- Herbs & Spices [sounds harmless until you realize this can be an umbrella turn for practically anything -- maybe they think MSG is an herb or spice?]

So yes, in and of itself, this seems like an utter nightmare to eat even without taking into consideration the mystery fungus poop.  

In sum... Quorn is not evil... now... but it certainly has the makings to be a super villain in the future.  Keep watch on the news and see if perhaps this consumer experiment will one day fail and be recalled from the market -- then you'll feel one step ahead of everyone else.  ;P

And if nothing happens (or, more realistically, if no one cares) then... heck, it won't matter to you, because you'll be enjoying real meat and real mushrooms.


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:30 pm

Dear Hannah x2, 

LOL, so many questions now. XD

Anyway, since I already made a nice long response for you today, I'll make this one short.  The roof of your mouth is the receiving end to some nerves that connect directly to your brain.  When you eat too many cold things, you risk essentially freezing this nerve, which in turn literally freezes your brain (sends a pain impulse, if you will), manifesting in a terrible but temporary headache.

So eat your ice cream slowly, and while you're at it make sure it's full of real whole fat milk, little added sugar, and no silly flour as filler!  XD


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:40 pm

Dear Avocado,

Depends largely on the person and on the depression (and cause for it).  I mean I could tout all sorts of nutritional ways (ie, wheat elimination, eat more fat) or supplemental ways (ie, vitamin D, L-Tryptophan) to help relieve anxiety and depression, but this would only be effective for certain cases of inexplicable depression. Depression from an actual stressor that is very traumatic and is ongoing may require more professional intervention than either you or I are able to give to this person.

But universally-speaking, just being there for the person is a valuable thing to offer, as often times venting, ranting or simply the close company of a fellow human being or animal is therapeutic.  If the help of a councilor or professional is needed, they're more likely to go if they have encouragement from other people, including yourself.  Medication should be saved only as a last resort as this could make the depression worse -- if medication is peddled, that's where this person should explore dietary and lifestyle changes first (e.g., Vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium, omega-3, exercise, sun exposure, yoga, meditation, etc).  


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Haasman29 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:07 pm

Dear Cia,

Can you give us examples of one being self-amused and tips on how to help? (Too many bored people)
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by HannahChi on Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:14 pm

Dear Cia:
Why do our stomachs rumble?

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:48 pm

Dear Nice Peeps...

Too tired, will raincheck... XD

Zzzz....

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:08 am

Dear Avocado,

Haha, you're essentially asking me to tell people how not to get bored. XD

While I would love nothing more than to be able to do that, the truth is that in this particular case, everyone is different.  If my idea of entertainment is cooking some scallops, reading a paleo recipe book or listening to an audiobook on entomophagy, then someone else's definition is playing Team Fortress 2 all day, reading Homestuck fanfiction or pulling the legs off of bugs.  It's even more troubling on the server since vanilla Minecraft is arguably a lot more samey and predictable, and can get boring after a certain point without an established goal.

So with that being said, the biggest tip to self-amusement of any kind, be it ingame or irl, is to set a quick and easy goal for yourself.  Do you want to get some exercise?  walk a few miles to the grocery store to specifically pick up eggs and milk... you'll get your fun and exercise, and fulfill a very useful and rearding goal to you.  Don't know what to do on the server without people?  Opt to build a town and roads to lead to this town, and make it in a very unique and awesome location, like under the sea or in the air.  

This is the reason why I'm a big fan of physical hobbies, like drawing, writing, sculpting, carpentry, pottery, and soldering... these are thigns that are engaging, sometimes inexpensive, goal-oriented, and rewarding for life experiences as these can get you a job (as it did for me in mmy old hobby), save you a good deal of money, or gain you fame among the locals.  It's no wonder hobbies are thought to extend one's life, they really are food for the soul.  <3


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:32 am

Dear Hannah,

I actually didn't know this so I had to look it up.  Observe a visual answer here:



So in short, the rumblies aren't caused by hunger per se, but are in fact gasses coming from your digestive system that are simply more audible when your stomach is empty -- once it's filled with food, that noise becomes duller and less irritated.
However, I do get the impression from the video that the answer presupposes that you're already a grain eater, and immediate hunger after only a few hours of a meal, plus a tremendous onslaught of gasses,a re all "normal" phenomena. In fact, in a digestive system that's pristine or healed, gasses are a LOT less frequent and certainly not as potent... when you get hungry, at the very least you'll get a slight murmur and a tiny vibration in your tummy after several hours of not eating anything, and this before ketosis sets in to make you burn body fat instead.  So while some rumbling is always present, I feel the magnitude of stomach growling can be controlled with diet, particulary in finding which foods might be causing some upset.  Other grains and sugars could be implicated, as would some potential allergens or other food items that your intestine might disagree with.  ^^


--Cia

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Foodie Question #1

Post by SarahEnyo on Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:13 pm

Dear Cia,

I love my chicken noodle recipe but I was wondering if there's a noodle out there that's a healthier replacement for wide egg noodles. Any ideas for me?

Sincerely,

Sarah Enyo
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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by HannahChi on Sat Jun 06, 2015 6:44 pm

Dear Cia:
What are the benefits of VitB and where does it come from?

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:05 pm

Dear Sarah-nyan,

Thank you for posting your first question here!  Dear Cia is not only my own personal pet project that I always love contributions in, but it also gives me time to think and research answer to questions, whereas on the field (on the server) I may not be able to give complete or legible answers due to the constraints of the chat system.  Besides, I hear you folks are strapped for cash, and this is another source of nice cheap income (assuming I remember to pay up). You do no wrong posting here, and on the contrary, it helps me tremendously as people it encourages others to post here as well and not be so shy. XD

Anyway, regarding your question...

I guess that largely depends on what you define as "healthier" -- I mean if you don't subscribe to my ideas, then egg noodles are probably as healthy as you can get since they're typically made with HEALTHYWHOLEGRAIN which the experts like to pontify.  You certainly won't get the same taste and texture off what I define as healthy ingredients. You can certainly come close with the so-called "gluten-free" noodles typically made with potato flour (or sorghum flour or arrowroot flour), eggs, and binders, but while they won't cause the same gastrointestinal and mind-altering issues of wheat, they will still be typically very high in carbohydrates and highly insulinemic, and overtime will still put you at risk for weight gain and diabetes just as much, if not more so, than wheat flour.  So these alternatives are very appproximate to the egg noodles you know, but I'd hardly consider them "healthy". XD

You might have better luck making your own noodles using a combination of almond flour and a sticky flour like arrowroot, but either this becomes impractical to do all the time or it won't have the same sturdiness as egg noodles you know, so I wouldn't recommend it (unless you're willing to experiment).

Instead, for a truly healthy alternative, I'd recommend using a spiralizer or julienne peeler to carve out "noodles" from a whole bunch of fresh, tasty, and sturdy vegetables, including:

1) Zucchini:  used to make what we call "zoodles", this is a very cheap and versatile vegetable loaded with nutrients, low on carbs and calories, easy to grow, and hugely-compatible with Italian cuisine.  ^^

2) Spaghetti Squash: typically only for spaghetti replacement, but it does the job.  Best of all, it's HUGE so you get a lot of spaghetti from a single squash.  

3) Sweet potato:  sliced or spiralized raw can cause this tuber to be shaped into all sorts of marvelous pasta shapes, from lasagna to macaroni-like shapes!  Best of all, it's sweet, tasty and sturdy once cooked; and also loaded to the brim with beta-carotene, potassium and even some magnesium!

4) Turnips, Carrots and Parsnips:  also some fabulous root vegetables that retain their shape well.  Turnips and parsnips would be more ideal if you're not used to eating them, as they're white and have unique flavors to carrots, and would more easily convince you that you're NOT eating faux noodles. Razz

5) Cucumbers:  much like zucchini, but with a cool crunch flavor that better compliments Asian-style dishes.  ^^

6) Eggplant:  Also another Italian-compatible dish that makes a superb replacement for lasagna sheets (and I can attest to that, yum!).  Don't forget to salt them over a mesh tray or towel so you can draw out moisture prior to use... or even better, dehydrate them into eggplant jerky first!  [which tastes interesting on its own, btw]  ^^


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Ciabatta on Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:52 pm

Dear Hannah,

A superb question, if only because it's rather complex.  Razz
There is no such thing as a singular Vitamin B... rather Vitamin B encompasses a whole range of independent vitamins all collectively known as "B Vitamins".  Here is a quick round-down of all the officially-recognized B vitamins:

Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
Vitamin B3 - Niacin
Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid
Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
Vitamin B7 - Biotin
Vitamin B9 - Folic Acid
Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin

Why all the gaps?  There are plenty of other nutrients that were once considered or proposed to be B vitamins, but ultimately didn't make the cut, either by scientific consensus or because they operate differently-enough to other B vitamins to warrant their own distinction. Some examples include Vitamin B4 (choline or carnitine, which are often deficient in vegans who don't know what they're doing), and Vitamin B17 (amygdalin, which has a checkered history in the field of cancer prevention).  

All B vitamins are water-soluble (hence, don't require fat to be absorbed) and play important roles in cell metabolism, but as far as what they're individually good for and where they come from (and note I used wikipedia a lot in this)...

Thiamine is used to generate energy from carbohydrates like glucose, is used for RNA and DNA production, and it is used for nerve functions.  It is best sourced from pork and organ meats, as well as fish.  Although grain-supporters will say that cereals and legumes are better sources of thiamine, this is only if you consume a LOT more of them, certainly enough to spike your blood sugar.

Riboflavin is used to produce energy for the electron transport chain, the citric acid cycle, and energy extraction from fatty acids (your body's primary fuel source).  Best sources are again organ meats, but competitive sources can be sourced from almonds, fish roe, eggs, mushrooms, various kinds of berries, lamb, pork, and small fish such as mackerel and sardines.  Same issue applies with sourcing this from grains and legumes, since once again you need to eat a LOT of grain to match the equivalent of the above mentioned.

Niacin is used to shuttle hydrogen during metabolic reactions in the cell, including during the citric acid cycle.  It's also used in the synthesis of lipids and nucleic acid.  Once again, organ meats are the superior source, though equally matched by tuna and mackerel.  Other fish, standard muscle meats and poultry, and mushrooms make great secondary sources, and of course... same issue with grains. Razz

Pantothenic Acid is used int he oxidation of carbohydrates and fatty acids.  It's also used to create Coenzyme A, which is used in the synthesis of amino acids, fatty acids, ketones, cholesterol, phospholipids, steroid hormones, antibodies and various neurotransmitters.  Organ meats are HUGELY plentiful in this, far beyond what can be provided by fish, mushrooms, eggs and chicken.  For once, grains have a comparable amount to the secondary sources, but that's not saying much when compared to organ meats.

Pyridoxine is used as a cofactor for many enzyme reactions, including the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters.  Organ meats and pork are the superior soures, while beef, lamb, fish, walnuts and bell peppers are great secondary sources.  Same issue applies with grain sources as the average B-vitamin.

Biotin is used in the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrate, including in the conversion of one of these to the other, such as the conversion of carbs to fatty acids through the process of gluconeogenesis.  Organ meats share their spot with eggs as superior sources of biotin, with beef, chicken and fish close seconds.  Dairy also contains moderate amounts, and various nuts, leafy green vegetables, fruits and brassicas also contaiin decent sources, albeit only if eaten raw (since biotin is easily destroyed by heat).  Grains have lots of biotin on paper, but in practice they're not very bioavailable.

Folic Acid is essential for normal cell division, especially during preganacy and development of the fetus, which is why expecting mothers need to be aware of this essential nutrient.  Organ meats and pulses (ie, chickpeas, beans, legumes) are superior sources, though pules of course require careful preparation and fermentation to make them bioavailable to you.  Decent secondary sources include walnuts, fish roe, eggs, spinach, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and bell peppers.  Grains are actually NOT a good natural source of folate... if their advocates claim it is, it's because wheat products are now commonly fortified with folate to make them "complete" -- and the amount fortified is typically a joke compared to even the above vegetable sources.

Vitamin B12 is used in the cellular metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and is crucial in the production of red blood cells, bone marrow and nerve sheaths.  Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, which is why vegans that don't know what they're doing can become deficient in this.  Best source is of course organ meat, though small fish like mackerel and sardines, meat and eggs are also fairly competitive sources.


Hope the above has helped.  <3


--Cia

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Re: Dear Cia Column

Post by Haasman29 on Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:17 am

Dear Cia,

How is cholesterol used by the human body? (and why does everyone think it clogs your arteries and causes heart attacks? Lol)
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Re: Dear Cia Column

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