How to Find Out if You Need a Vitamin

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You eat and drink vitamin fortified foods and drinks, but are you really getting required amount of vitamins in your food.

It seems today that everything is fortified with some vitamin or groups of vitamins; even water is now being sold fortified with vitamins and minerals. You can buy cereal that’s fortified with 100% of the daily requirements for some of the vitamins. Are we being over fortified in some vitamins and minerals and lacking in others? With so many different diets that limit this or that food group, do we even know what amounts of vitamins and minerals are in our daily food?

From reading labels of these fortified foods and drinks, some of them do have 100% of the RDA of some vitamins, sometimes only a few vitamins. This makes people think they are actually getting what they need in just a bottle of water or some energy bar. There are 14 vitamins and at least 10 minerals we need. One bottle of vitamin water has 20% of the RDA of just 7 vitamins and no minerals and including 13 grams of sugar and 150 calories. Not to mention these vitamin waters are at least twice the cost of a multivitamin per day and with a lot less of the vitamins. Plain water is actually healthier then vitamin water when you consider all the sugar. Vitamin bars such as Luna bars are better but still not nearly as good as a multivitamin with minerals. And the cost is still more then vitamins.

Food is the best source for all of our vitamins and minerals. There is a better absorption rate with food than with vitamins or multivitamins. But we always don’t eat like we should and even when we think we are eating a good diet we still can miss some of the vitamins and minerals we need. People who eat a lot of meat usually miss the vegetables and people who are vegetarians can be lacking in several of the nutrients that are in animal foods. Stress, illness, alcohol, cigarette smoking, pollution and even strenuous exercise can deplete our bodies of nutrients.

RDA

RDA stands for recommended daily allowance. The RDA is the minimum to keep serious deficiencies and disease away, not for optimal health. On foods, drinks and vitamins look for the %DV, this is the daily percent of the RDA each serving has. Pay attention to serving size since this percent is by the serving size. Some scientist and nutritionist feel the RDA is too low in some vitamins. The RDA is a guideline of vitamins and mineral amounts that are needed to ward off complete malnutrition and diseases such as beriberi and scurvy. The RDA amounts are not a guideline for optimal health.

Figuring your vitamin intake each day

There is a way to know what vitamins and minerals you are getting each day and that would be to go to the USDA nutritional database and figure out each meal and then add it up each day. It is time consuming somewhat tedious. You can figure out the basic main meals you have every week and if you change them slightly you will have the base figures already. This database has the measurements already or you can change them yourself down to the actual grams of a certain food item.

I did a sample day and added the vitamins and nutrients. In the far right column, I eliminated breakfast since so many people skip breakfast, with that you can see how the figures drop.

After seeing how many vitamins and minerals you get every day in your food, you can then make an informed decision if you do need a multi vitamin and mineral tablet every day, or maybe every other day. Using the USDA database you can make up your own charts for meals that you normally eat and then add new ones and you will always know what vitamins and minerals you get with your meals and just how much you are getting daily.

The bottom chart is of which foods contain the most of each vitamin and mineral.

Meals: Breakfast is 1 glass of orange juice, 1 piece of wheat toast and 1 bowl of instant plain oatmeal made with water, no milk.

Lunch: 1 tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat bread and fruit salad cup.

Dinner: Bowl of tomato soup, pork chops, baked potato with skin and broccoli, for dessert 6 oz fruit yogurt.

 

Vitamins

RDA adult

male

RDA

adult female

Daily

meal totals

Total minus break-

fast

A (IU)

3000

2310

3861

3593

B1 (mg) Thiamine

1.2

1.1

1.649

.98

B2 (mg) Riboflavin

1.3

1.1

1.207

.96

B3 (mg) Niacin

16

14

22.01

19.16

B5 (mg) Pantothenic

5

5

4.51

3.03

B6 (mg) Pyridoxine

1.5

1.5

1.78

1.55

B12 (mcg)

2.4

2.4

2.32

2.32

Choline (mg)

550

425

196.3

141.4

Folate (mcg)

400

400

218.63

70.63

Vitamin C (mg)

90

75

173.8

76.8

Vitamin E (mg)

15

15

2.16

1.66

Vitamin K (mcg)

120

90

92.9

88.9

Minerals

 

 

 

 

Calcium (mg)

1,100

1,100

548

452

Copper (mcg)

900

900

1450

860

Iron (mg)

8

18 to 8

11.92

7.49

Magnesium (mg)

420

320

357

195

Manganese (mg)

2.3

1.8

6.01

2.4

Phosphorus (mg)

700

700

1106

658

Potassium (mg)

4,700

4,700

3143

2295

Selenium (mcg)

55

55

102.7

65.7

Zinc (mg)

11

8

9.43

5.82

 

Vitamins

Foods with highest amounts per serving

A

Cod liver oil, liver, sweet potato, carrot, cantaloupe, pumpkin

B1 Thiamine

Wheat germ cereal, pork, peas, lentils, brown rice

B2 Riboflavin

Nonfat milk, egg, almonds, liver, salmon

B3 Niacin

Fish, chicken/turkey (white), peanuts, beef, pork

B5 Pantothenic

Liver, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, couscous

B6 Pyridoxine

Chickpeas, fish, beef liver, turkey, potato, chicken

B12 Cobalamin

Fish, beef, chicken, turkey, Braunschweiger,

Biotin

Liver, egg, salmon, yeast, avocado, raw cauliflower

Choline

Liver, egg, giblets, fish, beef, turkey, tomato paste

Folate -

Folic acid

 

Giblets, lentils, cowpeas, orange juice, pinto beans

C

Orange/grapefruit, peaches, sweet peppers, papaya

D

Salmon, mackerel, sardines (canned), fortified milk

E

Tomato paste, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach

K

Kale, greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach

Minerals

 

Calcium

Milk, cheese, yogurt, collards, rhubarb, sardines

Chromium

Broccoli, grape juice, whole grain products

Copper (mcg)

Liver, shellfish, mushroom, seeds, nuts, lentil

Iodine (mcg)

Seaweed, fish, navy beans, potato,

Iron (mg)

Clam, giblets, beef, chicken (dark), molasses

Magnesium

Buckwheat, oat bran, brown rice, spinach, beans

Manganese

Oat bran, whole grain wheat, pineapple, nuts

Molybdenum

Beans, lentils, peas, nuts, whole wheat grains

Phosphorus

Non-fat yogurt, skim milk, halibut, salmon

Potassium

Potato with skin, banana, plums, prunes, white beans, fruits and vegetables

Selenium

Brazil nuts, fish, pork, whole wheat bread

Zinc

Oysters, turkey and chicken (dark), beef,

Choline

Beef liver, milk, eggs, meat, wheat germ

Sam Montana © 06 February 2009

USDA nutritional database listed by nutrient

USDA nutritional database searchable by food

Article: What to look for when buying a multivitamin

2 comments

Beverly Anne Sanchez
0
Posted on Mar 30, 2011
Lisa Barger
0
Posted on Feb 26, 2009