Monday, May 31, 2010

Alfalfa and Nutrition

(Medicago sativa) A LEGUME used primarily for fodder throughout the world. As a nutritional supplement, this plant is a rich source of TRACE MINERALS, BETA-CAROTENE, ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS, VITAMIN K, and the B COMPLEX vitamins. Alfalfa contains significant FIBER and is a rich source of PROTEIN (25 percent by weight). In Asia, alfalfa leaves are used in the form of greens as a VEGETABLE.
Claims that alfalfa boosts the IMMUNE SYSTEM may relate to its trace mineral content. It also has antibacterial activity, and there is some evidence that alfalfa can induce LIVER detoxifying enzymes that destroy toxins and pollutants. Alfalfa contains several classes of compounds, including SAPONINS, STEROLS, and FLAVONOIDS, which can affect the body. For example, alfalfa saponins decrease blood cholesterol levels in lab animals. Alfalfa may reduce damage due to radiation, perhaps due to the ANTIOXIDANTS it contains. Individuals who have heart disease, who are pregnant, who have a tendency to clot easily or take anticoagulants should avoid alfalfa supplements because their vitamin K content may promote blood clotting. Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alfalfa during pregnancy and when breast-feeding, because it contains substances with weak estrogenic activity. Alfalfa sprouts are a healthful alternative to LETTUCE because it contains beta-carotene, VITAMIN C, and trace minerals at levels higher than those found in iceberg lettuce. In contrast with most lettuce, alfalfa sprouts are not treated with PESTICIDES. Alfalfa sprouts (100 g) provide 54 calories; protein, 6 g; carbohydrate, 9.5 g; fiber, 3.1 g; fat, 0.4 g; calcium, 215 mg; iron, 2.3 mg; thiamin 0.13 mg; riboflavin, 0.14 mg; niacin, 0.5 mg.

What is Aldosterone?

A hormone of the adrenal glands responsible for regulating SODIUM in the blood. It is classified as a corticosteroid, a group of hormones synthesized by the adrenal cortex. Aldosterone is the principal MINERALOCORTICOID, which directs the KIDNEYS to conserve SODIUM by reabsorbing sodium and water from urine. In the kidneys, aldosterone stimulates the renal tubules to release POTASSIUM and hydrogen ions in place of sodium, thus increasing urine acidity. Mineralocorticoids also increase sodium reabsorption from sweat, SALIVA, and GASTRIC JUICES. Other steroid hormones, deoxycorticosterone, corticosterone, and progesterone, can also cause sodium retention, though they are much less active.
Stimuli that increase aldosterone secretion include SURGERY, anxiety, physical trauma, high potassium intake, low sodium intake, and diseases of the heart, LIVER, and kidneys. The pituitary hormone ACTH stimulates steroid hormone release from the adrenal glands. Aldosterone is also regulated by the kidneys in response to low serum sodium levels. The kidneys produce an enzyme, RENIN, which forms the hormone ANGIOTENSIN in the blood that stimulates aldosterone release.

What is Aldicarb?

(Temik; Carbamyl) A very toxic insecticide widely used on POTATOES, SOYBEANS, PEANUTS, and citrus crops for control of chewing and sucking insects. Aldicarb was assumed to break down rapidly after application. However, tests show that it can persist in soil for years and contaminate crops planted in the same soil later. Several instances of aldicarb poisoning indicate the potential hazard of using this pesticide.
Symptoms of aldicarb toxicity include seizures, disorientation, blurred vision, and gastrointestinal disorders. The EPA recently limited the use of aldicarb and directed states to determine areas susceptible to contamination and then to monitor them, to assure concentrations do not exceed the limits set by the EPA. Activated charcoal filters can remove aldicarb from drinking water.