There are two main reasons this has become a critical issue both for your own health and for the future security of our nation. The first is that we do not have the time to find cook and prepare a variety of healthful foods. You need 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The more colorful, the better. If you have cereal, a sandwich and a meat and potato dinner, you are barely getting one serving each day! The second reason is the difficulty in finding good quality fruits and vegetables. The sad fact is that much of our produce is transported more than 1500 miles before it arrives at the produce section of our supermarket. Every day out of the field and every processing procedure deprives it of vital nutrients. If you have ever travelled to Asia, you will appreciate the lively taste and freshness of the local foods. They shop daily for fresh produce that was in the ground just yesterday, and avoid refrigeration and eating leftovers. They feel that storage and processing deprive food of its essential vitality and nutritional value.
Clearly, we all want the best food and the best health. Sourcing more of your food fresh and local is a big step forward. There are more farmers markets every day. This gives you the freshest produce as well as the chance to meet and befriend your local farmer. Take a look at the Links section for markets in our area. When you support your local farmer, you create a local and resilient community. You are not dependent on distant supply lines for your daily sustenance. You are sustained and cared for by local producers who know their land and who also know you. Food is a commodity in our culture, but buying fresh and local gives this commodity a warmth and grace that it really does deserve.
Do you ever wonder what the best supplement is for you? The choices are overwhelming. There are so many claims and counter claims. Even when a supplement sounds good, how can you tell the quality of the manufacturer?
For 2010, I am offering quarterly lectures on vitamin and supplements. For one hour you can hear a summary of key nutrients and get your questions answered. The schedule is posted just to the right.
In the first lecture, we discussed the vitamins that make up the basic multivitamin pill. Vitamins are small molecules that are necessary to make your metabolism go. You can live without them, but are at risk of developing debilitating vitamin deficiency diseases. We do not see these in the developed world, but they are making a comeback. This is due to the impoverished food supply, and that will be addressed in another lecture.
The fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. These vitamins are classed together because they are toxic in high doses. Vitamin A is necessary for vision and you need only a small amount. You can easily make Vitamin A from its precursor, carotene, and you will often find them mixed together in supplements. Vitamin D has much been in the news. It was only recently appreciated that adults need more than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Most experts now recommend 2,000 IU per day and not the old 400 IU you may recall from your last review of the multivitamin label. Vitamin E is best taken as “natural” Vitamin E or mixed tocopherols. The B Vitamin family and Vitamin C are water soluble. The B vitamins work a a family and you need a minimum of each one for best effect. Vitamin C is relatively easy to obtain from citrus and as a supplement.
There are other nutrients that should also be part of your daily supplement. These are the essential fatty acids and minerals. If you have two servings of a high fat fish weekly you have the fatty acids covered. Otherwise, you should take a supplement. Here, it is important to choose a quality supplement. The high fat fishes, because, they are top predators, are at greatest risk of containing environmental contaminants, such as PCBs.
Finally, you probably need more calcium than you get in your daily diet. Calcium supplements are bulky and usually are not a part of your multivitamin. You can decide how much calcium you are getting in your average daily diet and add a supplement up to 1,200-1,500 mg total daily intake.
The basic daily essential is a multivitamin, adequate Vitamin D/calcium and essential fatty acids/Omega 3s. The is the base upon which you will build additional nutrients to meet your special needs.
These lectures will be offered quarterly. To find out the next lecture offering call 831-622-1994 to hear a recorded message. There is no charge for these lectures, but do bring your questions!