Adding to the information from last week about the protein benefits available to us via meat and how that assists our bodies, this week we’re looking at the other vitamins and minerals delivered to us when we consume quality, grass fed meat. When looking at the nutrient value that various meat types contain per 100gms, keep in mind that you need to be consuming a variety of food sources in order to have a balanced diet. So while the percentage values for meat may seem low, it’s the combination of different sources – meat, veggies, fruit, wholegrains, etc – that is key.
Meat is a valuable source of B Vitamins. For optimum health, we need to consume B Vitamins on a daily basis. As a group their main function in the body is:
- Help the body to release energy from carbohydrates
- Nervous system function
- Work with iron in the formation of healthy red blood cells
- Build tissues (what makes up organs)
While Vitamin B12 falls under B Vitamins, it is important to note that to gain recommended amounts (of B12), the most reliable sources are found in animal products. What Vitamin B12 does:
- Required to synthesize DNA and RNA (body’s genetic material)
- Formation of healthy red blood cells
- Maintenance of healthy nerves
- Assist with brain function
- Healthy immune system
- Metabolism of carbohydrates
As Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin (meaning it can’t be stored), we need to regularly consume foods that contain Vitamin B12. The following breakdown lists the amount of B12 you can absorb from the four major meat varieties.
- Chicken = 1% of daily value per 100gms
- Lamb = 48% of daily value per 100gms
- Beef = 17% per 100gms
- Pork = 9% of daily value per 100gms
Iron is a component of haemoglobin; the substance found in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body to each cell. Iron also plays a function in the maintenance of healthy cells, skin, hair and nails, as well metabolism of certain proteins and enzymes in the body. Without adequate levels of iron it can leave you feeling fatigued, with cold extremities (hands and feet), brittle nails and dizzy.
There are two forms of iron: heme (from animal sources such as meat) and non-heme (vegetable sources). Heme-iron is much more absorbable source versus non-heme sources. Our absorption of heme-iron is about 15-35% while non-heme is 2-20%.
- Chicken = 2% of daily values per 100gms
- Lamb = 11% of daily value per 100gms
- Beef = 9% of daily value per 100gms
- Pork = 7% of daily value per 100gms
Zinc is a mineral involved in over 300 functions/processes in the body, including:
- Ensuring the thyroid produces hormones.
- Working as the first line of immunity defence in our bodies, helps with white blood cell production (white blood cells are our immune cells), and has an antimicrobial effect helping to prevent bacteria or viral infections.
- Assisting with the breakdown of carbohydrates.
- Acting as a powerful antioxidant and makes up an antioxidant called ‘superoxide dismutase’ which when used by the liver helps with detoxification as it binds to toxins removing them from the body.
- Chicken = 2% of daily value per 100gms
- Lamb = 31% of daily value per 100gms
- Beef = 26% of daily value per 100gms
- Pork = 21% of daily value per 100gms
Selenium is a mineral that has antioxidant properties protecting against damage to the body. What does it do?
- It assists the body’s natural detoxification.
- Supports the thyroid to function normally.
- Involved in many physiological functions in the body.
- Required to make serotonin; the ‘happy’ hormone and contributes to getting a better nights’ sleep.
- Contributes to healthy metabolism especially with thyroid hormones.
- Lower levels or deficiency of selenium has been associated with having an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
- Reduces inflammation in the body which reduces our risk of developing health conditions.
- Chicken = 11% of daily value per 100gms
- Lamb = 14% of daily value per 100gms
- Beef = 37% of daily value per 100gms
- Pork = 51% of daily value per 100gms
Final Note: Bang for Your Buck
Organ meats are a cheaper cut and often forgotten about, yet they are super nourishing. It’s a good way to nourish yourself and the family for less expense. Benefits of organ cuts of meat:
- Contains higher amount of protein, thiamine, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10 and other B vitamins.
- Liver is the highest overall quality protein and has the highest levels of vitamin A.
Disclaimer: This article is written for information purposes only. Information included in this article is not intended to treat or cure individuals. As every individual is so unique, so too are their dietary needs and restrictions. Always seek the advice from a healthcare professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.