Optimal health and wellness is dependent on adequate intake of macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Plant-based foods, including fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts, are prominent features of a healthy diet. In addition to providing energy and essential micronutrients, plant-based foods contribute thousands of biologically active plant chemicals (phytochemicals) to the human diet.
- Thiamin (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B12
- Folate (vitamin B9)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Biotin (vitamin B7)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Sodium (Chloride)
Other nutrients important to human health include choline, essential fatty acids, and dietary fiber.
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Coenzyme Q10
- Lipoic Acid
Phytochemicals are bioactive compounds found in plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains) believed to reduce risk of certain chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. More than 5,000 phytochemicals have been discovered, with an equally large percentage waiting to be identified.
- Chlorophyll and Chlorophyllin
- Soy Isoflavones
Given the health complications associated with micronutrient deficiencies, quality of the modern Western diet (intake of ultra-processed foods), and cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement that provides 100% of the RDA for most micronutrients is a sensible public health recommendation.
- Adopt a plant-based diet with an emphasis on a variety of different plant-based foods.
- Consume at least 5 to 6 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
- Consume foods high in the fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., vitamins A, D, E, K, and the carotenoids) with a source of dietary fat and protein (e.g., peanut butter).
- No multivitamin/mineral supplement provides 100% of the daily value for magnesium, calcium, or omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. However, combined calcium/magnesium/vitamin D supplements are available.
- In general, men and postmenopausal women should opt for a dietary supplement free of iron unless he/she has a history of iron deficiency anemia.
- Choose a supplement that does not exceed 2500 IU of vitamin A. Ideally, opt for a product that supplies vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. If unavailable, look for a product that supplies at least 50 percent as beta-carotene.
- Avoid high-dose supplements. In general, supplements that exceed 100% of the RDA for most nutrients are not recommended due to risk of adverse health effects (e.g., toxicity). Exceptions to this rule include vitamin D — daily intakes that exceed the RDA for vitamin D (2,000 – 10,000 IU per day) are considered safe.
- All populations should ensure adequate vitamin D status via regular exposure to the sun and/or use of a dietary supplement.
- Vegans/Vegetarians: Take a vitamin B12 supplement.
- Individuals who do not regularly consume fatty fish should consider taking 1,000-2,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids) several times per week. If you are prone to bleeding or take an anticoagulant, consult your physician first.
- Limit intake of carbonated beverages and alcohol.
- Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: Take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement with 100% of the RDA for most nutrients including iodine and vitamin B9.
As always, this information is not intended to be medical advice and does not replace consultation with a qualified healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss your use of nutritional supplements with your primary care provider (or medical team) because some nutrients interact or interfere with certain prescription medications. Your healthcare team can tell you if dietary supplements interact or interfere with your medications, or if the medications interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down certain micronutrients.
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Corkins MR, Balint J, Bobo E, Plogsted S, Yaworski JA. The A.S.P.E.N Pediatric Nutrition
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Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic
WHO. Guideline: Fortification of Food-Grade Salt with Iodine for the Prevention and Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2014
Zimmermann MB and Boelaert K. Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2015; 3: 286–95
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