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Know more about the rice you eat: 2

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By Dr. Sosimo Ma. Pablico

THE B VITAMINS support and maintain the rate of human metabolism, enhance healthy skin and muscle tone, promote cell growth and division, including the red blood cells that help prevent anemia, reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, as well as combat the symptoms and causes of stress, depression, and cardiovascular diseases.

Deficiencies in B vitamins could lead to various illnesses. For instance, individuals with a deficiency in vitamin B1 may suffer from beri-beri or nerve and heart disease. Vitamin B2 deficiency results in ariboflavinosis, which is indicated by cracked and red lips, inflamed lining of the mouth and tongue, mouth ulcer, and cracks at the corner of the mouth.

Individuals afflicted with vitamin B9 deficiency suffer from loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness of the body, sore tongue, headache, heart palpitations, irritations, and anemia. Babies delivered by women with folic acid deficiency may be born prematurely, have low weight and neural tube defects at birth, and may also grow slowly.

Vitamin E, the collective name of tocopherols and tocotrienols, is a potent antioxidant. It prevents the oxidation of vitamin A and essential fatty acids, as well as the rapid breakdown of body tissues. A deficiency in vitamin E results in less absorption of dietary fibers and fat-soluble nutrients, poor transmission of nerve impulses, muscle weakness, and degeneration of the retina.

Calcium builds bones and teeth, as well as regulates body processes. Calcium deficiency results in hypocalcaemia (low calcium in the blood) and osteoporosis.

Magnesium is a co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body. As such, a deficiency would affect the cardiovascular, skeletal and nervous systems.

Iron is the site of oxygen binding in the human body. Without iron, oxygen transport in the body is compromised. About 40 percent of the world’s population is affected by iron deficiency, making it by far the most widespread nutrient deficiency worldwide.

Iron plays four important functions. First, it is vital in producing the oxygen-carrying proteins (hemoglobin and myoglobin). Second, it makes up part of many proteins in the body. Third, it plays as a transport medium for electrons within the cells. And fourth, it plays an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues. It is said that intelligent people have more iron and copper in their hair.

It should be noted that while many people consider brown rice as fitted only for the poor, the iron content of brown rice is twice as much as that in well-milled rice. There are now seven iron-fortified rice brands in the market with the Sangkap Pinoy seal.

Take note that low as well as too much iron intake have negative effects on the individual. Low iron intake, on one hand, causes anemia, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, weight loss, chronic bleeding, and brittle nails. Too much iron intake, on the other hand, results in fatigue, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and grayish color of the skin.

Potassium is important in the synthesis of proteins for enzyme functions within the cells. It is also needed in the maintenance of the body’s fluid balance. Potassium deficiency results in muscle weakness that affects the heart and nervous systems.

Zinc is important to the human body in more ways than one. It maintains the body’s immune system to work properly. It also facilitates cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and break down of carbohydrates. Moreover, it is important in the development of the senses of smell and taste. The human body needs less than 3 grams of zinc and yet more than 300 enzymes could not function without it.

Low zinc intake results in slow growth, poor appetite, slow healing of wounds, loss of hair, problems with the senses of smell and taste, hypogonadism in males, frequent infections, trouble seeing in the dark, and various skin lesions. Too much zinc intake also results in diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting.

Dr. Romero says that although the affluent class prefers rice with intermediate to low amylose content, there are much more to high amylose rice than being considered hard rice. High amylose assists in the management of diabetes, improves bowel health and functions, and increases the feeling of satiety, thereby reducing weight gain. It also aids in magnesium and calcium absorption in the colon, and may reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis. (With Hazel V. Antonio).

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