Why “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Work for NutritionPrint
Sandy Cardy (CPA, CA, CFP)
Why We Need Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins are organic compounds needed in the body. These are micronutrients that are essential to life.
We only need vitamins in relatively small amounts (as compared to macronutrients such as carbs, proteins, and fat), but they are incredibly important due to their roles in growth, digestion, energy transfer, nervous system function, and more.
These micronutrients also act as co-factors for enzymes, allowing all activities that occur in the body to be carried out properly.
Minerals serve as building blocks for body structures and can act as electrolytes. They are needed for the formation of blood and bone, to maintain healthy nerve function, to regulate muscle tone, and more. Like vitamins, they act as co-enzymes and are essential for the proper use of vitamins and other nutrients.
Many factors can influence our vitamin and mineral requirements including gender, malabsorption problems, exercise, and age-related changes. For this reason, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to meeting vitamin and mineral needs.
Is the RDA enough? What is ODI?
Estimated Average Requirement (EARs) is used to calculate the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals. It is important to know that EARs only accounts for the bare minimum required to ward off vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases, such as scurvy and rickets, in half the healthy individuals in a life-stage and gender group. They do not account for the amounts needed for optimal health status. Optimum Daily Intakes (ODIs), on the other hand, are the amounts of nutrients needed to enhance our health. Why should we settle for the bare minimum when it comes to our health, shouldn’t our goal be to achieve optimal health?
In an ideal world, we would get the nutrients we need from our food, but in reality, that is rarely the case. A study of 70 athlete diets showed that every single diet analyzed was deficient in at least three nutrients while other diets were deficient in up to 15 nutrients! Another study looked at four popular diet plans, like the Atkins Diet, and found that all four diets failed to meet minimum RDAs for all 27 micro-nutrients analyzed.
In our modern world, we are surrounded by chemical pollution and are chronically stressed, which both increase our nutritional requirements. Meanwhile, conventional farming practices have depleted the soil of many key nutrients. Along with harvesting and shipping practices, extensive processing and improper storage, the food that is finally reaching our tables has far from the nutrient density it used to have.
For these reasons, supplementation is necessary for optimum health. Use only quality supplements from trusted sources. Inexpensive supplements can mean lower quality and less of the actual beneficial active ingredients.
Common Nutrient Deficiencies
Do you suffer from these common vitamin deficiencies?
Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, so the best source is sun exposure in moderation. In the absence of sun exposure (winter months), a supplement is strongly recommended. A vitamin D deficiency can precipitate and worsen osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. In children, a vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, deformed bones, stunted growth and soft teeth. Vitamin D is also necessary for the absorption and transportation of calcium for bone formation.
Major food sources of vitamin D are eggs, liver, oily fish and mushrooms.
Vitamin A is important in the formation of bones and teeth, protects against colds, flu and infections and prevents eye problems as well as some skin disorders.
A deficiency of vitamin A can cause dry hair, dry skin, poor growth, night blindness, insomnia, fatigue, reproductive difficulties, frequent colds and respiratory infections and skin disorders like acne.
Major food sources of vitamin A are carotenoids (red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables), green leafy vegetables, animal livers and eggs.
Nearly 300 essential metabolic reactions rely on magnesium including carbohydrate metabolism, wound healing and DNA and protein synthesis.
Supplementation of magnesium can help prevent cardiovascular disease, PMS, depression and muscle twitching. Deficiency signs can include insomnia, irritability, rapid heartbeat and poor digestion.
Food sources of magnesium include whole grains, almonds, green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, apricots, pumpkin seeds, salmon and beans.
Needed for the formation of strong bones and teeth, for the maintenance of healthy gums and the maintenance of a regular heartbeat, calcium is an important mineral also essential in blood clotting and helps prevent cancer.
Deficiency can lead to aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, heart palpitations and tooth decay.
Major food sources of calcium are salmon (with bones), dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast and sesame seeds. Many herbs also contain calcium, including alfalfa, cayenne, chamomile, dandelion and fennel seed.
Contrary to popular belief, some alternative health professionals believe that dairy does NOT contribute to bone strength, and consumption of dairy can actually contribute to the depletion of bone-strengthening minerals. Now there’s some food for thought!
About the author
Sandy Cardy (CPA, CA, CFP) is a leading authority on tax and estate planning, for many years Sandy helped individuals grow their net worth. But after her own battle with cancer and subsequent full recovery, she immersed herself in researching how to protect your health, as well as your wealth. Today, she shares her practical and inspiring knowledge of how to build a lasting legacy, in all senses of the word. To read more from Sandy please visit her website www.sandycardy.com. You can follow Sandy on Twitter and Like her on Facebook.