Science fiction would have us believe that one day in the future we’ll get all our food through little pills. Many of us have started down that path by opting for a handful of supplements in order to compensate for not eating right.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute, Chicago, subscribes to the “food first” mantra to get vitamins from their source. “You get much more beyond the isolated vitamin,” says Blatner.
“When someone eats an overall balanced diet with fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, you will get the whole network of vitamins and nutrition,” says Blatner.
One concern with relying on supplements is the danger of consuming too high a level of a particular vitamin. The fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, can get stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins, all varietals of B and C, are not stored in the body and must be replaced each day. “Supplement, by definition, means in addition to a healthy diet.” All vitamins should dissolve in your stomach within 30 minutes, otherwise your body won’t absorb the full amount.
Find your vitamins on your plate
Blatner points out that there is more vitamin C in a red pepper than in an orange. So if you are nursing a cold or the flu, a few strips of red pepper in a salad make for a nice way to get vitamin C, especially if you can’t stand to look at another orange. The good news is that foods rich in vitamins are probably already on your plate. Here is a list of the major vitamins and the foods where you can find them:
eggs, milk, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, apricots, nectarines
whole grains, such as wheat and oats; fish and seafood; poultry and meats; leafy green vegetables; beans and peas; eggs; dairy products, such as milk and yogurt; citrus fruits, such as oranges
citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons; cantaloupe; strawberries; tomatoes; red peppers; broccoli; cabbage
milk and other dairy products fortified with vitamin D; fish; egg yolks
whole grains, such as wheat and oats; wheat germ; leafy green vegetables; sardines; egg yolks; nuts
dairy products, such as milk and yogurt; leafy green vegetables; liver; pork