Many people take multivitamins to supplement their diet and prevent nutrient deficiencies. However, multivitamins are not always necessary or beneficial. In fact, some studies suggest that high doses of certain vitamins may be harmful to your health. Moreover, multivitamins may not contain all the nutrients you need or in the right proportions.
The good news is that you can get most of the vitamins and minerals you need from natural foods. Foods are not only rich in nutrients, but also provide fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds that multivitamins cannot replicate. In addition, foods are more bioavailable, meaning that your body can absorb and use them better than synthetic supplements.
In this article, we will introduce you to five foods that can replace your multivitamins and provide you with a balanced and varied diet.
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It is especially high in vitamin K1, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health. One cup (21 grams) of fresh kale contains 68% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin K11. Kale is also a good source of vitamin C, which supports your immune system and collagen synthesis. One cup of fresh kale provides 22% of the RDI for vitamin C1.
Besides vitamins, kale is rich in fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, iron, and other minerals. Kale also contains phytochemicals such as glucosinolates, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. You can enjoy kale raw in salads or smoothies, or cooked in soups, stews, stir-fries, or chips.
Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, a trace mineral that is vital for thyroid function and metabolism. Iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, affecting nearly one-third of the global population3. Iodine deficiency can cause thyroid problems in adults and developmental abnormalities in children4.
Seaweed such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame are all very rich in iodine. The RDI for iodine is 150 mcg per day. However, different types of seaweed contain varying amounts of iodine. In general, brown seaweeds such as wakame and kombu provide higher amounts than green seaweeds such as nori. For example, one gram of dried kombu may contain 2,343 mcg of iodine, far exceeding the RDI and even the upper level of safe intake (1,100 mcg per day).
Therefore, seaweed should not be consumed daily or in large amounts, as it may cause adverse effects such as thyroid dysfunction or toxicity. Nevertheless, occasional seaweed consumption is a cheap and effective way to prevent iodine deficiency.
You can add seaweed to your diet by making sushi rolls with nori sheets, adding kombu to your soups or broths, sprinkling wakame on your salads or noodles, or snacking on roasted seaweed chips.
Liver is the most nutritious part of any animal. It is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin A, iron, folate, and copper. Vitamin B12 intake is particularly important, as many people are lacking in it. It plays a crucial role in cell, brain, and nervous system health. Liver contains high amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin A, and copper.
However, be sure not to eat liver more than once or twice per week, as you may run the risk of nutrient toxicity. Too much vitamin A or copper can cause liver damage, birth defects, or neurological problems You can enjoy liver cooked in various ways, such as fried, grilled, baked, or made into pate.
Eggs are a complete protein source, meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make on its own. Eggs are also rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B12, choline, selenium, and biotin.
Vitamin B12 is important for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. One large egg provides 23% of the RDI for vitamin B12. Choline is a nutrient that supports brain development, memory, and liver health. One large egg contains 147 mg of choline, which is 27% of the RDI for men and 35% of the RDI for women. Selenium is a mineral that acts as an antioxidant and helps regulate thyroid hormones. One large egg offers 22% of the RDI for selenium. Biotin is a vitamin that helps your body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. One large egg supplies 10% of the RDI for biotin.
You can eat eggs in various ways, such as boiled, scrambled, poached, or baked. You can also make omelets, frittatas, quiches, or egg salads with eggs.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is low in calories but high in nutrients. It is especially rich in vitamin K1, folate, iron, and magnesium.
Vitamin K1 helps your blood clot and your bones stay strong. Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. It is also important for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in their babies. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your tissues. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in your body, including energy production, muscle contraction, and blood pressure regulation.
Spinach also contains other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and zinc. Spinach also has phytochemicals such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration.
You can eat spinach raw or cooked. You can add spinach to your salads, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, or dips. You can also cook spinach in soups, stews, curries, or casseroles.
Multivitamins are not a magic bullet for your health. They may not provide all the nutrients you need or in the right amounts. They may also have some negative effects if taken in excess or without medical supervision.
Instead of relying on multivitamins, you can get most of the vitamins and minerals you need from natural foods. Foods are more bioavailable, more balanced, and more beneficial than synthetic supplements. They also offer other compounds that multivitamins cannot match, such as fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Some of the foods that can replace your multivitamins are kale, seaweed, liver, eggs, and spinach. These foods are very nutritious and can provide you with a variety of nutrients in one serving. Of course, there are many other foods that are also rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and dairy products.
The key is to eat a balanced and varied diet that includes a rainbow of colors and flavors. This way, you can ensure that you get all the nutrients you need for optimal health and well-being.