General, Healthy Diet

8 Foods That are Better Than Multivitamins

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Generally, getting nutrients from foods is better than getting them from supplements like multivitamins.

In some cases, one serving of a food can satisfy more than 100% of your daily requirements for one or more nutrients.

Take the following food as examples:

1. Kale

Kale is a hardy cabbage of a variety that produces erect stems with large leaves. It is extremely healthy. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and is particularly high in vitamin K1 – an essential nutrient for blood clotting and bone health.

A cup, or 67 grams, of fresh kale contains the following nutrients in extremely high amounts:

  • Vitamin K1: 900% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 111% of the RDI.

2. Seaweed

Seaweed — such as kelp, nori, kombu and wakame — are all rich in iodine, a much needed nutrient of almost one-third of the world’s population. In fact, iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.

The recommended daily intake is 150 micrograms. However, different types of seaweed contain varying amounts of iodine:

  • Wakame: 1 g has about 30–110 micrograms, which is close to the RDI.
  • Kelp: 1 g may have 700–1500 micrograms, or 460–1000% of the RDI.

Remember though that there are kinds of seaweeds, such as kelp, should not be consumed daily. The safe intake is 1100 micrograms per day. Taking more than that amount may cause adverse effects.

3. Liver

The liver is the most nutritious organ in animals. It is rich in essential nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin A, iron, folate, and copper.

Beef liver contains high amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin A and copper. A 100-gram (3.5 oz) serving may contain the following quantities of these nutrient:

  • Vitamin B12: 1200% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin A: 6–700% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 6–700% of the RDI.

4. Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are very rich in selenium, an essential trace element that can also be toxic in high amounts. Symptoms of selenium toxicity include loss of hair and nails, digestive issues and memory difficulties.

The recommended daily intake of selenium is 50–70 micrograms/day for adults. Additionally, the upper tolerance level for safe intake is about 300 micrograms/day for adults.

Read: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for Vitamins and Minerals

One large Brazil nut may contain up to 95 micrograms of selenium.  Eat only 4–5 Brazil nuts a day. It’s not recommended that you eat more than than.

5. Shellfish

Shellfish are among the most nutritious types of seafoods.  For example, clams are packed with vitamin B12. In fact, 100 grams provide over 1600% of the RDI. They contain high amounts of other B-vitamins, potassium, selenium and iron.

Oysters, on the other hand, contain an abundance of zinc and vitamin B12, with 100 grams containing 2–600% of the RDI.

Clams and oysters may be the perfect food for older individuals, as higher amounts of vitamin B12 are recommended after the age of 50. This is because the ability to absorb vitamin B12 in the digestive system may decrease with age.

6. Sardines

Sardines are small, oily and nutrient-rich fish. They are very rich in EPA and DHA, essential omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked with improved heart health (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3).

One 92-gram (3.75 oz) serving contains more than half of the RDI for these essential fatty acids. It also contains over 300% of the RDI for vitamin B12.

Furthermore, sardines contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, including high amounts of selenium and calcium.

7. Yellow Bell Peppers

Yellow bell peppers are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin C – an essential vitamin. It is also water-soluble, meaning that extra amounts do not get stored in the body. Therefore, having a regular supply of vitamin C in the diet is very important.

Studies have found out that high vitamin C intake has been linked with enhanced immune function, a reduced risk of DNA damage and a decreased risk of several chronic diseases.

One large yellow bell pepper, or about 186 grams, provides almost 600% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which is 75–90 mg.

For comparison, yellow bell peppers contain about 3–4 times the amount of vitamin C found in oranges (Source 1, Source 2).

8. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is a great addition to any diet, especially for people who live far from the equator, where no vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin during the winter months.

Only one tablespoon, or 14 g, of cod liver oil provides 2–3 grams of omega 3 fats and 1400 IU of vitamin D. This is more than 200% of the RDI for vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health. It is also a crucial part of many bodily processes, including immune system function and cancer prevention.

Cod liver oil is extremely beneficial now that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.

This is because the dietary sources of vitamin D are sparse. They include mainly fatty fish and fish liver oils, as well as egg yolks and mushrooms, to a lesser extent.

Moreover, cod liver oil also contains high amounts of vitamin A, about 270% of the RDI. Vitamin A can be harmful in excessive amounts, so it is not recommended that adults use more than 1-2 tablespoons per day of cod liver oil.

Bottom Line: Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin A. Taking more than 1-2 tablespoons per day is not recommended.

A Word to the Wise

Although multivitamins may be beneficial for some people, they are unnecessary for most. In some cases, they may even provide excessive amounts of certain nutrients.

If you want to boost your nutrient intake, consider adding some of these super nutritious foods to your diet instead of taking a synthetic multivitamin.
Remember to always go organic, or natural. Nothing beats nature’s work.

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