Over the last few months, I've discussed several components of a micronutrient-rich diet. I've discussed the importance of fruits and vegetables, pointed out micronutrient-rich sources of protein and carbohydrates, and talked about better sources of fat when looking at food from this perspective. I hope you learned a few things along the way and you made a change or two in your family's weekly menu. In this final post I'll address beverages and supplements and then add a conclusion. I welcome your questions and comments to blog posts!
Micronutrient content is not the whole story here. Read on.
Fruit juices have plenty of micronutrients but they are full of fruit sugar and are concentrated in Calories. They don't fill you up like a whole piece of fruit would, so all that sugar goes in and leaves you still hungry. A smoothie with whole fruit, protein, and some healthy fat would be great, but fruit juice is not a great choice for most people despite its micronutrient value.
Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Sunny D, and energy drinks all contain added micronutrients (vitamins/minerals, other additives) that do have nutritional value, however, they come along with lots of sugar (or artificial sweeteners) and other additives. Don't fall prey to the advertising about the micronutrients they offer. Those of you who have been reading this blog know that you can get those micronutrients somewhere else. So unless you've just completed a workout longer than 60 minutes that involved a lot of sweating, you likely don't need Gatorade as part of your post-workout recovery. Which brings us to our next beverage: milk.
Milk contains calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and other micronutrients (like magnesium) in addition to macronutrients like protein, milk sugars, and milk fat. Milk or chocolate milk can be a great addition to a workout recovery meal or snack. 8 oz of milk counts as one serving of dairy. For those who tolerate it, milk is a nutritious and micronutrient-rich beverage. If you can afford organic milk, don't worry about the fat content you choose. Eat whatever percent fat (2%, whole, etc.) your family enjoys.
This is the ultimate example of a food high in macronutrients (sugar) but nearly completely devoid of micronutrients. There is very little nutritional value to soda pop, and it should be limited to an occasional treat. If you are trying to cut back on your soda pop intake (regular or diet), consider trying one of those unsweetened sparkling waters that are so popular these days such as La Croix.
Hard liquor provides Calories but no significant amount of micronutrients. Beer also provides Calories. Wine, since it's made from grapes, has antioxidants, polyphenols, and other healthful micronutrients, but still should not be consumed in excess. For guidance on safe intake of alcoholic beverages and answers to your alcohol-related questions, link here.
Let's say that you are pretty sure you're not getting enough micronutrients from food. You want to make some changes to your diet but you also want extra insurance to be sure you're adequately nourished. Multivitamin & mineral supplements are a great way to get this extra insurance. However, not all supplements are created equally. Supplements are not well regulated by the government, so it's hard to know if you're getting what you've paid for. I recommend purchasing supplements from brands that healthcare professionals trust. These "professional" brands are often sold in medical offices, where the professionals who sell them know that a substandard product will undermine client trust and results. These companies test their products to be sure customers get what they pay for, and they often use formulations that maximize absorption and effectiveness. If you get your supplements at Costco or another discount retailer, please do some research. Contact the manufacturer and ask how often the product is tested for purity and potency, or read an independent review from a site such as Consumerlab. I'm not able to recommend specific supplements via a blog as everyone has unique needs. For a non-comprehensive list that includes many professional level brands, you can look (but not buy) here. If you want help selecting the appropriate nutritional supplements to meet your needs, consider scheduling an appointment with me. Learn more about working with me by clicking here.
It's been quite a journey looking at various aspects of the micronutrient-rich diet. What do you think about this series? What did you learn? I would love to hear your comments and questions. I'll leave you with a festive and micronutrient-rich recipe.
I mentioned above that fruit juices are not the best way for most people to get their micronutrients. However, smoothies containing fruit, vegetables, fiber, and protein are great options for breakfast on the go or a healthful evening snack. This festive smoothie gets most of its protein from Greek yogurt - skip the protein powder and just add a little more yogurt. Micronutrient-rich ingredients include pumpkin, banana, and flax seeds. Fresh spices would offer an antioxidant bonus! Thanks to the blogger at A Pumpkin and a Princess for coming up with this delicious-sounding treat. The recipe is available here.
Lindsey Hays, RDN, LN
Lindsey Hays is licensed as a Nutritionist/Dietitian in the state of South Dakota. While she holds a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN or RD) credential which is nationally recognized by the Commission on Dietitian Registration, she is not licensed to practice as a nutritionist or dietitian in states other than South Dakota. She is a Certified Dietitian in the State of Washington. The information on blackhillsnutrition.com is not intended as medical advice. The content of this site is not intended to provide or replace medical advice, nor should it be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before changing your diet or medications. For full disclaimer statement click here.