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Can We Get Enough Nutrients Through Diet Alone?

Eggs

I’ve been reading the book “Naked Calories” by Mira and Jayson Calton and they’ve been talking about how difficult it can be to get all our nutrients from food due to soil depletion and things they call EMD, everyday micronutrient depletors.  This got me curious about whether my diet was supplying sufficient nutrients.  I will be the first to admit that my diet is not as perfect as it can be.  Simply put, I’m busy.  But when compared to a standard American diet, I think I do pretty darn well.  Yes, I can eat more veggies and more fruit and more this and more that…

I’m taking what I ate today because it is a pretty typical day.  What I eat does vary week to week because I buy in bulk monthly and we’re at the end of the month.  I’m nearing the end of my milk supply so there isn’t as much dairy (normally I’ll have 2 cups of milk, some cheese and a cup of kefir).  Also, I’m out of fruit and my fresh veggie selection is limited since I get my new shipment of produce on Monday or Tuesday, I’m not heading to town to buy more before then.  So there 😛

Breakfast:

  • 3 eggs, over easy on a bed of spinach with cayenne pepper and salt, sautéed in 1 tbsp coconut oil.
  • 2 cups of coffee with about 1/2 cup whole milk and 2 tsp honey total.

Snack:

  • 1 cup fermented cauliflower
  • 8 oz kombucha
Lunch:
  • Cream of Carrot Soup (my portion contained approximately 1 cup carrot, 2 cups broth and 2 tbsp cream)
Snack:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 dried apricots
  • 12 oz mug of hot chocolate
  • 8 oz kombucha
Dinner:
  • 8 oz baked salmon
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli with 2 tsp butter
  • 1/4 cup pickled beets
  • 1/2 cup white rice
Approximately 1863 calories

 

I chose just a few vitamins to follow because tracking everything would make my brain explode.  One thing to keep in mind, I’m calculating this from information I found on the internet.  This does not take into consideration farming methods, organic/nonorganic, how old the produce is, how it’s prepared and what not.  All of those factors contribute to the overall nutrient value of a food.  For instance, I can’t find information on fermented organic cauliflower.  It’s not exactly a popular food item.  Fermenting does alter the nutrient content of foods.  It increases B vitamins and it decreases the vitamin C content (it changes from ascorbic acid into ascorbigen and anticancer nutrient so not a bad thing).  I overcooked my salmon on accident.  My spinach was sauted, not raw, and was at least a week old.  My carrots are about a month old and boiled though the water soluble vitamins just became part of the soup.  Lots of factors.  Ooh and my eggs are from my pastured hens who I think have a rockin’ diet of grasshoppers and ticks.  Their nutrient amount may vary significantly from the industry standard pastured egg.  Also, most charts I looked at didn’t differentiate between vitamin A and beta carotene.  There is a difference people!  Did you know infants cannot do the conversion and children do it poorly?  There are also many factors that can prevent adults from making the conversion too like diabetes and celiac disease.  I’m wheat intolerant so I might be one of those who doesn’t make the conversion well.

 

The value I’m using is the Recommended Daily Value, %DV.  It’s what you see on the back of a package in the box.  There is lots of debate about whether the %DV is adequate to keep a person healthy or if it’s just barely enough to keep us from being sick.  Is it optimal?  In the case of vitamin D in particular, the recommended amount I think falls far short for optimal health.  Do I want to take just enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy?

 

Ok, all that to say the following is just a guess.  A shot in the dark.  But a good enough guess to let me know where I need to be more careful and good enough to let me pat myself on the back for being awesome.

 

You can see I rock in many areas but fall short in a few too many.  Vitamin E is only 37%.  Eek!  My iron is short but your body stores iron and I know I’ll be eating liver later in the week.  Some of the B vitamins and I fall a little short on but my ferments might put me at an ok level with their extra B boosts.  Calcium is a little low today but that’ll be made up quickly when my fridge is restocked with fresh milk, cream and cheese on Monday.  So all in all, the only ones I’m really concerned about is vitamin E and magnesium.  My most recent blood test showed my magnesium was low, not out of the boundries of normal just on the low end.  I do use a magnesium oil spray regularly now.  I can easily remedy the other by eating sunflower seeds and almonds (which actually are a regular part of my diet just not today).  I also do take fermented cod liver oil and butter oil daily but I did not include those two whole food supplements in my little analysis.

 

Ok, so do I need an extra supplement to meet the minimum daily requirement?  Or would my diet be adequate enough if I were a little more mindful?  And if I, someone who doesn’t eat a standard American diet falls short, what does the rest of the population look like?

 

This little experiment was a lot of work.  Looking up every single thing I ate for just one day and multiplying or dividing to get the right portion size, oy!  I’m glad I did it though.  Knowledge is power.

 

Resources:
http://nutritiondata.self.com
http://www.whfoods.com
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2005-08-01/Free-Range-Eggs.aspx


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5 comments to Can We Get Enough Nutrients Through Diet Alone?

  • Rachel

    I don’t think you’d need much of a supplement. If you feel tired or rundown you may want to consider a complete B supplement of some kind. I know how long it takes to forgive this all out online! When I was trying to lose weight after my second child
    I did this every damn day! It was soooo time consuming! I wanted to make sure I was getting all my nutrients for breast feeding while trying to cut calories. I imagine I could have done a lot of exercise in the time I spent figuring it all out every day!! It really works though…

  • Pastured eggs are higher in E than store-bought. So I’d bet your numbers are higher. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2005-08-01/Free-Range-Eggs.aspx says they have double the Vitamin E as a store-bought egg.

    • Melanie

      Oops, I forgot to link to that article. Those are the numbers I used. It’s interesting how numbers can vary so much from one pastured egg to the next.

  • […] #2 They are more nutritious. I use copious amount of butter which if you’ve been following me on Facebook or here for a while, you’ll know is actually a super food and not the villainous cause of heart attacks that we’ve been falsely lead to believe.  The saturated fats in butter help you utilize fat soluble vitamin in the food you add it too and butter itself is a rich source of beta carotene, vitamins A, D and K.    I don’t need to worry about BPA’s from the can and Pinto beans are a good source of B vitamins and magnesium which I apparently could use more of in my diet. […]

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