As a nutritionist, there are certain things I know from research studies and textbooks. There are other pieces of information I have gathered from personal experience. My view on vitamins is a combination of the two; I can tell you the approximate suggested daily values for most nutrients but wholeheartedly support solid food over supplements, chard versus calcium, eggs versus Vitamin E you get the picture. When The Daily Green forwarded me a reader's query whether we could get the RDA for nutrients from our food, my gut reaction was of course we can!
Rather than mathematically showing how this is possible with a list of nutrients and accompanying food sources, I decided to do what I do best and be a guinea pig for this experiment. I sent Lisa, Foodtrainers' star intern/nutrition nerd, two days worth of food I had consumed. I wanted to see how my intake stacks up to a multivitamin and suggested that Lisa compare my food to Centrum's multivitamin. The next day, Lisa sent me the results and for the most part I did well. Of the 19 nutrients analyzed there were only a few that I didn't hit 100% on one of the two days. Furthermore, if you added the percentages from the two test days, there were only two instances where I didn't get to 100% of suggested values. After patting myself on the back, I realized there were a handful of foods I had consumed each day that had overwhelmingly helped my daily totals and some Foodtraining guidelines that flow from these foods.
These were foods I consumed to bump up my levels of vitamins and minerals:
Everyone has different likes, tastes and dietary needs and nobody eats the same three meals, seven days a week. Before reaching for the vitamin jar, try following these simple steps and you will likely cover your nutritional bases:
The Daily Green has an amazing recipe archive filled with delicious and nutritious options. Here are a few of my favorites that will guarantee a nutrient-dense day:
Photo: S.J. Ahern
Photo: Sterling Publishing
Handful of Pecans and Berries
Hemp or Whey Protein Smoothie- protein powder, fruit, low fat or nut-milk can be the base but add in a handful of baby spinach, 1/2 an avocado or nut butter to up the nutritional ante.
Photo: Good Housekeeping
If I had to pick one supplement to suggest, it would be Vitamin D. Most people tested are deficient in D; my D was disastrous. You can get D from egg yolks and sunshine but I think it's worth supplementing. I like liquid D as the casing and coating on many vitamins bothers me and my intestines. Though there's not an RDA for them, omega 3's are also worth your money and especially important for non-seafood eaters.
The idea of a multivitamin, where you get huge amounts of many nutrients at once, remains unappealing. Everyone needs to take an a la carte view of vitamins. Vegans generally need a B12 or B-complex boost, those immune-compromised want to zero in on zinc and if you don't do dairy perhaps consider calcium. We may not necessarily need to be complete from A to Zinc every day, the important thing is to put some time and your own research into your diet and find a regimen that provides for your optimal vitamin and nutritional program.
Lauren Slayton, a registered dietitian, is the founder of Food Trainers, a New York City-based holistic health and nutrition counseling service. She has developed several programs, including Mindful Menus and Market Foodtraining, to give individuals, families, corporations and athletes attainable strategies for managing a healthy lifestyle.
See 6 Steps to a Balanced Meal, also by Lauren Slayton.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.