Do you have your two serves of fruit and five serves of vegies every day, ideally of different types and colours? Do you eat a wide variety of nutritious whole grains, lean meat, fish and poultry, eggs, legumes or tofu, yoghurt, cheese, milk or their alternatives on a daily basis? If you do, your diet is probably a fairly balanced and healthy one. These types of foods are great sources of important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs to function.
Even the best eating plans however, can fall short of meeting all of the nutrients you need each day. Taking a multivitamin will not make up for an unhealthy diet and isn’t a substitute for the nutrients that these types of foods supply, but it may be beneficial when your diet is inadequate. Some of the factors that can impact on daily nutrient intake include:
- Food processing/preparation – The nutritional value of food can be affected by the way it’s processed, cooked or stored. For example:1
- The high use of nitrogen fertilisers in farming can reduce the vitamin C content in many fruits and vegetables.
- The milling of cereals such as wheat can reduce dietary fibre, B‐group vitamins, phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and some minerals.
- Before a food is canned or frozen it’s often heated with steam and water. This process can destroy levels of vitamin C and B‐complex vitamins.
- Excessive trimming and peeling of vegetables can mean a huge reduction in its nutritional value, since many of the nutrients lie close to the skin surface.
- Some cooking methods such as boiling can decrease C and B vitamins, which are lost to the cooking water.
- Stress – When you’re under a lot of stress it increases your need for certain vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and chromium, which you may not be getting from your diet alone.
- Exercise – Strenuous exercise can enhance losses and increase the body’s need for some nutrients such as vitamin B1, vitamin B2, chromium and magnesium.
- Medicines – Certain medicines can interfere with the body’s stores of nutrients. Check with your doctor.
- Alcohol/caffeine intake – Regular alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption and/or storage of some nutrients.2 Your daily caffeine intake might also affect your absorption of iron and calcium.3
- Increasing age – The ageing process can affect the absorption of nutrients. For instance, the intestinal absorption of calcium declines with age as does the ability to produce vitamin D in the skin.4 Older adults may also be vulnerable to B‐group vitamin deficiencies.5
To help top up your daily intake of nutrients, consider taking a Cenovis® multivitamin.