Phytochemicals are kind of the new kids on the block (I will always love Jordan Knight! Step by step, ooh baby...) in the world of nutrition science. Researchers have identified thousands of phytochemicals and there are likely many more we haven't yet discovered. This is the main reason I am a proponent of getting nutrients from whole foods rather than supplements; we can't bottle what we don't know exists. Phytochemicals are present in plant foods but we can also get them from animals which eat the plants these phytochemicals are in.
Vitamins are present in foods and vitamin supplements. They are essential to life and normal function. Some vitamins found in foods are there naturally, like the B vitamins found in whole grains while others are added to foods as is the case with the B vitamins that are added to processed grain products. Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble. The water soluble vitamins are Vitamin C and the B vitamins; these are not stored in our bodies in large amounts and need to be included in our diet regularly to prevent deficiency. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are the fat soluble vitamins. These four require fat for absorption and storage.
Minerals are also found in foods as well as supplements. If our bodies require them in large amounts they are categorized as macronutrients; if our bodies need smaller amounts they are micronutrients. Like vitamins, they are necessary for normal function and health.
It's important to note not all vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals have antioxidant properties. Next, we'll get into the details of which ones are in which foods so we can start putting this knowledge to use and make sure to include foods high in antioxidants in our daily diet to boost our health and fertility with the power of food and nutrition.
Happy New Year! Here's to staying fertile, fit, and fabulous in 2015.