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Optimum Nutrition Recommendations

KaleIn NutritionFacts.org's video-of-the-day Golden glow, and Produce, not pills to increase physical attractiveness, I review the new research suggesting the consumption of dark green leafy vegetables improves the healthy appearance of Caucasians* due to carotenoid deposition in the skin. Taking those same phytonutrients in pill form, though, doesn’t work. We should strive to get most of our nutrients from plants, not pills.

The balance of scientific evidence suggests that the healthiest way to eat is a vitamin B12-fortified diet of whole plant foods. For optimum nutrition, we should be sure to include in our daily diet not only an array of whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, and as many vegetables as we can eat, but also specifically dark green leafy vegetables, berries, and white (or green) tea.

Attention should also be paid to these nutrients:

Vitamin B12

  • At least 2,500 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin once each week, ideally as a chewable, sublingual, or liquid supplement
  • or at least 250 mcg daily of supplemental cyanocobalamin (you needn’t worry about taking too much)
  • or servings of B12-fortified foods three times a day, each containing at least 25% U.S. “Daily Value” on its label
  • Tip: If experiencing deficiency symptoms, the best test is a urine MMA level (not serum B12 level)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • 250 to 500 mg daily of yeast- or algae-derived DHA and/or EPA

Vitamin D (daily recommendations for those in the Northern Hemisphere)

  • Below approximately 30°latitude (south of Los Angeles/Dallas/Atlanta/Cairo)
  • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
  • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • Between 30° latitude (sample cities above) & 40°latitude (Portland/Chicago/Boston/Rome/Beijing)
  • From February through November
  • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
  • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • From December through January
  • 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • Between 40° latitude (sample cities above) & 50°latitude (Edmonton/London/Berlin/Moscow)
  • From March through October
  • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
  • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • From November through February
  • 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • Above approximately 50°latitude (north of Edmonton/London/Berlin/Moscow)
  • From April through September (or even briefer above 60°latitude (Anchorage/Stockholm))
  • 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin)
  • or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
  • From October through March (or even longer above 60°latitude (Anchorage/Stockholm))
  • 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D

Calcium

  • At least 600 mg daily via calcium-rich plant foods—preferably low-oxalate dark green leafy vegetables, which includes all greens except spinach, chard, and beet greens (all very healthy foods, but not good calcium sources due to their oxalate content).

Iodine

  • For those who don’t eat seaweed  or use iodized salt, a 150 mcg daily supplement
  • The sea vegetable hijiki (hiziki) should not be eaten due to high arsenic levels
  • Kelp should be avoided as it tends to have too much iodine

Iron

  • All menstruating women should increase their absorption by combining foods rich in iron and vitamin C at meals and should get checked for iron-deficiency anemia every few years
  • Men should be checked for an iron overload disease before any attempt to increase intake

Selenium

  • Northern Europeans may need to take a supplement or eat a daily Brazil nut

* Due to the pervasive under-representation of traditionally marginalized groups in clinical research, comparable science across the skin color spectrum is not yet available.

This article was previously published on the Nutriton Facts website

Michael

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition. Currently he serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine and runs the Nutriton Facts website.

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