The ABCs of chicken micronutrients
Chicken is rife with micronutrients that fuel and nourish the human body. Poultry contains vitamin B12, which works with folic acid in many body processes, including the synthesis of DNA, red blood cells and the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells and speeds the conduction of the signals along nerve cells. B12 and folic acid also work synergistically to reduce body concentrations of homocysteine (an intermediate in the conversion of methionine to cysteine). Increased homocysteine has been implicated in a variety of conditions including atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Homocysteine likely promotes atherosclerosis by directly damaging the artery and reducing the integrity of the vessel wall. In osteoporosis, elevated homocysteine levels lead to a defective bone matrix by interfering with the formation of proper collagen.
Poultry also has a significant source of vitamin B3 (niacin), which is involved in the metabolism of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and minerals and supports the adrenals. Niacin functions in the body as a component of the coenzymes NAD and NADP, which are involved in over 50 different chemical reactions in the body. Coenzyme 1, the active form of vitamin B3 (or niacin), a substance present mainly in chicken and turkey, is essential to neurological health, boosting mood and combatting fatigue. As far as mineral content, poultry contains important micronutrients including selenium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, zinc and iron.
Selenium is an antioxidant and a major component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which works with vitamin E to prevent free radical damage. Selenium also plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormone. Phosphorous is a mineral that works together with B vitamins and assists the body with making ATP, the body’s energy molecule.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is an extremely important B vitamin involved in the formation of body proteins and neurotransmitters and red blood cells. B6 deficiency is linked to depression, glucose intolerance, anemia, impaired nerve function and eczema.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), is utilized in the manufacture of coenzyme A (CoA) and acyl carrier protein (ACP), two molecules that affect how the body utilizes fats and carbohydrates in energy production. Vitamin B5 is also known as the anti-stress vitamin because of its critical role in supporting adrenal function. Pantethine, the active form of pantothenic acid, is used to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels.