Taking a multivitamin every day is commonplace in most of our lives. Certain people may be told by their healthcare provider they need a vitamin supplement; however, for most of us, the best way to get these vitamins and minerals is directly from plant and animal sources. This means incorporating healthy foods into our everyday lives.
Living in the Northwest, Vitamin D is a supplement you absolutely should take. The area's latitude, coupled with cloudy days makes it difficult to get enough vitamin D. Even when it is sunny, blocks UV light that our bodies need to synthesize vitamin D. Adults under age 50 need 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D3 daily, while adults age 50 and older need 800 to 1,000 IU daily. Research suggests that Vitamin D supplementation might protect against diabetes, gum disease, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, osteoporosis, and possibly cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Here are some examples of food sources to help you get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals for adults. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get all necessary nutrients. Recommended daily allowances are from the USDA and vary by age and sex.
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any vitamin or mineral supplement.
Calcium (1,000 to 1,200 mg/day)
Function: Maintains strong bones and teeth, heart and nerve functions.
Food sources: Oranges, plain yogurt, ricotta cheese, tofu, milk, spinach.
Potassium (4,700 mg/day)
Function: Muscle contraction, fluid/pH balance, builds protein and muscle, helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
Food sources: Sweet potatoes, tomato paste, plain yogurt, avocado, banana, dried apricots.
Dietary Fiber (22 to 31g/day)
Function: Lowers cholesterol, healthy digestion, makes you feel fuller and helps with losing weight, prevents constipation.
Food sources: Beans (black, pinto, garbanzo), pear, whole wheat English muffin, bulgar.
Folate (400 mcg/day for pregnant women)
Function: Helps prevent birth defects.
Food sources: Asparagus, spinach, beans, peas, oranges.
Iron (8 to 18mg/day)
Function: Important for oxygen delivery to the organs.
Food sources: Lentils, spinach, lean meat, poultry, seafood.