We all know that our body needs essential Vitamins and Minerals (Micro nutrients) but the question is how much do we get through our food, how much do we need to get additionally through supplements and how much is enough of a good thing.
There is no general reply to this as it depends on everybody’s individual lifestyle, constitution, genes, environmental influences and even daily habits but there are some general guidelines to it.
Our Micro nutrients intake depends a lot on our life stage and gender but as a general rule www.iom.edu/Object.File/Master/21/372/0.pdf shows you the different needs for children and adults at different stages.
Now you may wonder where to find most of the nutrients
Here is a list of foods which include a high level of most of the needed Vitamins and Minerals
- Chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Mushrooms (crimini and shiitake)
- Baked potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Cantaloupe, papaya, raspberries, strawberries
- Low-fat yogurt
- Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower)
- Dried beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto)
- Lentils, peas
- Almonds, cashews, peanuts
- Barley, oats, quinoa, brown rice
- Salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna
- Lean beef, lamb, venison
- Chicken, turkey
By incorporating regularly the above in your meals, you will be able to cover most of your Micronutrient needs, provided you are a healthy individual with a normal constitution and an active, happy and mindful lifestyle, who does not smoke, has no chronic illness, takes no prescription drugs, is not obese, has no stress or mental illness and does not drink or takes any recreational drugs.
Now, honestly who fulfills ALL those criteria? I live a fairly healthy lifestyle and am aware what is needed but am still supplementing my diet, not always but at certain times. I have seen benefits by either adding a multivitamin which does not exceed the DRI’s (former RDA’s) or certain Vitamin or Mineral supplements which help with specific issues.
So how much of the good stuff is needed?
For those who would like to go into details, the first step would be to establish how many calories you need, there are a lot of apps and this site may help http://www.calorieking.com/interactive-tools/how-many-calories-should-you-eat
Once established if you have a healthy weight you may opt to maintain, increase or decrease and depending you will know the ideal calorie intake.
Based on this you can calculate the average calorie and nutrition needs on this website https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx and calculate based on your personal profile the need for a healthy nutrition.
For a healthy adult who needs to eat a 2000 calorie diet, it is recommended to take in the following, see https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/myplan.aspx
||6 ounce(s) per day
||1 ounce of Grains
||≥ 3 ounce(s) per day
||1 slice of bread (1 ounce)
½ cup cooked pasta, rice, or cereal
1 ounce uncooked pasta or rice
1 tortilla (6 inch diameter)
1 pancake (5 inch diameter)
1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal (about
1 cup cereal flakes)
See more Grain examples
|Eat at least half of all grains as whole grains. Substitute whole-grain choices for refined grains in breakfast cereals, breads, crackers, rice, and pasta. Check product labels – is a grain with “whole” before its name listed first on the ingredients list?
||2½ cup(s) per day
||1 cup of Vegetables:
Red & Orange
Beans & Peas
|1½ cup(s) per week
5½ cup(s) per week
1½ cup(s) per week
5 cup(s) per week
4 cup(s) per week
|1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
1 cup 100% vegetable juice
2 cups leafy salad greens
See more Vegetable examples
|Include vegetables in meals and in snacks. Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables all count. Add dark-green, red, and orange vegetables to main and side dishes. Use dark leafy greens to make salads. Beans and peas are a great source of fiber. Add beans or peas to salads, soups, side dishes, or serve as a main dish.
||2 cup(s) per day
||1 cup of Fruit:
||1 cup raw or cooked fruit
1 cup 100% fruit juice
½ cup dried fruit
See more Fruit examples
|Select fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruit more often than juice; select 100% fruit juice when choosing juice. Enjoy a wide variety of fruits, and maximize taste and freshness, by adapting your choices to what’s in season. Use fruit as snacks, salads, or desserts.
||3 cup(s) per day
||1 cup of Dairy:
||1 cup milk
1 cup fortified soymilk (soy beverage)
1 cup yogurt1½ ounces natural cheese (e.g. Cheddar)
2 ounces processed cheese (e.g. American)
See more Dairy examples
|Drink fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese. When selecting cheese, choose low-fat or reduced-fat versions.
||5½ ounce(s) per day
||1 ounce of Protein Foods:
||8 ounce(s) per week
||1 ounce lean meat, poultry, seafood
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
½ ounce nuts or seeds
¼ cup cooked beans or peas
See more Protein Food examples
|Eat a variety of foods from the Protein Foods group each week. Eat seafood in place of meat or poultry twice a week. Select lean meat and poultry. Trim or drain fat from meat and remove poultry skin.
||6 tsp. per day
||1 tsp. of Oil:
||1 tsp. vegetable oil (e.g. canola, corn, olive, soybean)
1½ tsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. tub margarine
2 tsp. French dressingSee more Oil examples
|Choose soft margarines with zerotrans fats made from liquid vegetable oil, rather than stick margarine or butter. Use vegetable oils (olive, canola, corn, soybean, peanut, safflower, sunflower) rather than solid fats (butter, shortening). Replace solid fats with oils, rather than adding oil to the diet. Oils are a concentrated source of Calories, so use oils in small amounts.
Additionally I recommend:
- Drink enough water, half your weight in pounds in ounces (so if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day, that is around 10 glasses of water per day)
- Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight
- Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood
- Consume fewer or no foods with sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains. Cut down on fast food and processed food, sodas and sweetened (sugar or artificial/diet) foods and drinks
- Chose the healthiest food you can afford, ideally go organic and cook as much as you can fresh food from scratch
- Chose foods with as little ingredients and no added sugar or additives, learn how to read labels
- Some people prefer to have a slightly lower intake of grains, may be vegetarian/vegan, have food intolerances, allergies (gluten, dairy) or need a special diet (diabetes, chronical illness etc.). For a detailed meal plan I would advise you to speak to your health care specialist
See more details on the updated dietary guidelines http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2010/
The above guidelines should cover your normal needs however you may want to supplement if your body has certain additional needs and you have certain health conditions. Also some minerals and Vitamins are difficult for the body to produce and you may want to supplement them (speak to your health care provider if in doubt). Here are some suggestions for you to explore:
Many people are deficient in Vitamin D as it is mainly produced through sunlight and we are not getting enough in general.
High quality Fish oil provides you with the much needed Omega 3 Fatty acids
Calcium/Magnesium (important to prevent osteoporosis), Folic Acid (during pregnancy), Vitamin B’s (especially Vit B12 if vegetarian or vegan) and Zinc are sometimes deficient and need to be supplemented.
Vitamin A, C, E and Selenium are important Anti-oxidants and should be included in your diet or may be supplemented to help prevent heart diseases, cancer and strengthen your immune system
Detailed info about Nutrients can be found at this excellent source http://www.whfoods.com/nutrientstoc.php and your health care provider may want to check your Micronutrient levels if you suspect any deficiencies. For more details, feel free to contact me.
By: Andrea Caprio
Holistic Nutrition and Wellness coach