Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vitamins

After that post yesterday about meal planning, I thought it would be a fun experiment to track what I ate in a day and see if I got the daily required amount of each vitamin and mineral. This would be a mammoth task, but luckily I have a computer program (CRON-o-Meter; you can download it for free) which does the actual calculations for me. I just put in what I ate and it counted up the amounts of everything, comparing them with the USDA recommended amounts.

Now, this isn't a perfect method. I've heard a lot of people say that we should be eating more of many vitamins, such as D and B12, than the RDA's suggest. Also, the amount eaten is not necessarily the amount absorbed -- I hear we can only get about 3% of the beta carotene in a raw carrot, for instance. But it was a good place to start.

Without taking any particular care -- I ate the food throughout the day and recorded in the evening so I didn't know how much I was getting -- I met almost all of the goals. In fact, I'm extra super good because I exceeded the calorie recommendation by quite a lot! Oops. But they do say nursing mothers need 600 extra calories. I also was particularly hungry that day. Ideally, though, you should get all your nutrients in before maxing out your calories. I had bacon and eggs for breakfast; an orange, a banana, some cheese, and a PBJ for snacks; and three homemade tacos with all the fixings (lettuce, tomato, green pepper, sour cream, salsa, cheese) for dinner. I also drank two glasses of milk.

I was way over the DRE's for almost every vitamin, often doubling or even tripling the amount needed! (None of these were anywhere near toxic levels.) I was a little lacking in three nutrients, though: vitamin K, vitamin E, and potassium. I could have met the DRE for K and E together with a dark green leafy vegetable ... perhaps a bit of spinach or kale for a snack would have been a good idea. I was at 75% of the total potassium, which isn't bad, but I could have improved that by having a bit more tomato with my tacos or maybe a second banana. Normally I get a lot of potassium, because I eat so many potatoes.

The big relief to me is knowing that it isn't too hard to meet the requirements of each vitamin, and you don't have to obsess over it. Having some animal foods each day helps, because they are high sources of many vitamins and minerals. I myself could probably use to eat more vegetables, though. Then again, I often do -- this was a rather meat, egg, and cheese-heavy day. I think today I'll have a salad for lunch!

What's your take on vitamins? Carefully calculate, eat a relatively balanced diet and assume it works out, or take a multivitamin to make sure?

1 comment:

Sarah Faith said...

pretty neat exercise!

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