To Take a Vitamin or Not?

Yahoo.com had an article last week focusing on one nutrient, Magnesium.  The article highlighted the recent interest in the role that magnesium plays in the possible prevention and management of disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  It got me thinking.  Is magnesium any more important than zinc?  Why not discuss the role that zinc plays:  it’s needed for proper growth and maintenance of the human body.  Zinc’s needed for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more.  Pretty important if you ask me.     The article stated that many people in the U.S. aren’t eating enough foods with magnesium.  This mild magnesium deficiency could put them at risk for a number of diseases.  Whereas people are eating enough foods with zinc, so there’s not much cause for concern for a zinc deficiency. 

I decided to check my magnesium intake for the day:

This isn’t chicken scratch, it’s just an old school nutrient analysis.

The daily requirement for magnesium for a female my age is 310 mg (requirements differ based on age and gender).  My total magnesium intake for the day:  550 mg.  Eating a wide variety of legumes, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables will help you meet your daily dietary need for magnesium.  I’m a pescatarian and eat lots of legumes and nuts for my protein which also happen to be good sources of magnesium as well.  I was good with my magnesium.  I decided to spot check a few other nutrients just to see how I was doing.  Potassium – a little bit low.  This could be since I stopped drinking milk.  Note to self, eat more greens.  Zinc – 1 mg low.  Should’ve had my almond butter toast for breakfast instead of my homemade pancakes.  Protein – spot on with what I need (& a little extra since I exercised that day).  I could’ve kept going and analyzed every vitamin/mineral.  But what for?  I eat healthy.  Sure I’m going to have better days than others, but for the most part I’m getting the variety that I need to provide me with the vitamins/minerals that my body needs. 

I teach children and I encourage them  to make sure to get a variety of foods and don’t focus on just one food group.  All the food groups are important and one isn’t more important than another.  We’ll need more of some than others but they all provide us with different nutrients.  I also teach the children that vitamins/minerals are found in the foods that they eat.  They’re not some little pill that you take every  morning. 

Back to the original question – to take a vitamin or not?  That’s the question that you need to answer.  Most times it leads you to analyze what it is that you’re eating.  Are you eating enough foods that can provide you with a variety of the vitamins/minerals that you need?  Are you relying on a vitamin to give you the missing nutrients because you know you aren’t eating well?  If you aren’t eating your green leafy vegetables you will be missing out on some key nutrients (vitamin A, K & more) but is there another food source that can provide you with these nutrients?  Really understand your reason for taking a vitamin before you take it in a pill form.  Wouldn’t it be better to get them naturally from food?   

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