08 July, 2011
Vitamins in Spinach
If you don't like spinach, you may want to revisit this vegetable to find a way that you enjoy eating it in order to partake of its health benefits. If you find cooked spinach is too strong for your tastes, try raw spinach instead. It is more mild in flavor and can be substituted for lettuce in salads or on sandwiches, or you could blend a handful into your favorite smoothie. Spinach contains several important vitamins that have a major impact on your body's health and on disease prevention.
You need vitamin K for proper blood clotting. Each cup of raw spinach contains 145 micrograms of vitamin K, which is an astounding 181 percent of the daily value. However, if you are taking any medication for thinning the blood, such as warfarin, the National Institutes of Health warns that eating foods like spinach that have a high Vitamin K content can affect how well the warfarin works. If you are a fan of spinach but are on medication, speak to your physician about how much spinach you can safely consume.
Spinach contains high amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, with 1 cup of raw spinach providing 2813 international units, or 56 percent of the DV. Beta-carotene may help protect against heart disease, lung and prostate cancer and degenerative diseases of the eye like macular degeneration, and it boosts the immune system, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. It also acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, which are described by Columbia University as cells that are essentially malfunctioning and in turn can cause healthy cells to malfunction by trying to steal electrons from cell molecules. Free radical damage is believed to be the underlying cause of early aging as well as many diseases.
Vitamin E and Vitamin C
One cup of raw spinach offers 0.6 milligrams, or 18 percent of the DV, of Vitamin E and 8.4 milligrams, or 14 percent of the DV, of Vitamin C. While these two antioxidant vitamins are widely available in other foods, the fact that you are able to consume the two of them together in a serving of spinach has added health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends that instead of taking antioxidant vitamin supplements, you should consume foods that are rich in these vitamins, as the vitamins need to work together to offer the greatest benefits to health.
Spinach also contains a few members of the B vitamin family, with the most prevalent being folate, at 58.2 milligrams, or 15 percent of the DV, in a 1-cup serving. Folate is vital to the formation of tissues and proper functioning of cells, as well as the production of DNA. The National Institutes of Health states that women who are pregnant should make sure they have an adequate intake of this vitamin, as low levels of it in the body are associated with birth defects.
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