Most of us have heard that we should aim for 5-a-day when it comes to our fruits and veggies. This doesn’t sound too hard, yet most individuals are still not getting in enough of these foods filled with goodness. This makes us think… should we take supplements or is it better to get our vitamins and minerals from foods we consume? What are some of the benefits? Let’s take a closer look.
1. What are vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. This basically means that our bodies need small amounts of these nutrients to function properly1. We find vitamins and minerals in foods we eat every day; some foods contain more vitamins and minerals than others. Vitamins fall into two different categories called fat soluble and water soluble.
Fat soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins dissolve in fat and our bodies can store these. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body for long periods, toxic levels can therefore build up1-3. This rarely happens just from food and is more likely to happen if you take supplements.
Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamins C and B-complex. These are found in the watery portions of foods. For example, oranges and naartjies need to dissolve in water before our body can absorb it. These vitamins can pass through our system quite easily since 60% of our bodies are made up of water and whatever our body doesn’t use is lost in our urine2. In general, our bodies do not store water-soluble vitamins for long periods therefore we need to obtain these from our diet every day.
Vitamins are known as organic substances, simply meaning they are made by plants and animals. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water. Minerals are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals3. We need larger amounts of certain minerals like calcium which helps keep our bones and teeth healthy and smaller amounts of others every day such as zinc and iron – these are known as trace minerals.
2. What is the function of vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals play many important roles in our bodies. They help boost our immune system which helps keep us healthy and prevents us from getting sick2-4. They support normal growth and development and help our organs and cells to do their jobs. I am sure you have heard that carrots are good for your eyes, carrots contain a substance called carotenoids. When carotenoids are converted to Vitamin A in your body this helps prevent eye problems3-6.
Vitamin K, found in your green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli play an important role in helping your blood to clot, so when we get hurt this helps the bleeding to stop3. Then when we think of calcium, we already know this is important for healthy bones, teeth and development. We can find calcium in diary products like milk, yoghurt and cheese and in green leafy vegetables3. We therefore find a large number of vitamins and minerals in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
3. Why 5-a-day?
Now that you know how important vitamins and minerals are, you can clearly see why having your 5-a-day of fruits and veggies is necessary. Sounds easy enough, but many individuals struggle to reach this requirement due to health costs, time constraints or the fact that junk food (chocolate, sweets and chips) is often easier for individuals to eat than fruits and vegetables. In general, a portion of fruit is the size of your fist and a portion of vegetables is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables2. According to this recommendation you would therefore need to eat 2 fruits per day, have 1 cup of cooked vegetables and 1 cup of salad and then you are sitting at 5-a-day. Not as easy as it sounded before, right?
4. Should we supplement vitamins and minerals?
As dietitians, we advise people to achieve their required nutrient intake through consumption of food sources where possible, though sometimes this may not be achievable due to time constraints or other dietary factors. Thus, it may be more practical to consume certain nutrients in supplement form, like your vitamins and minerals. These supplements tend to be quite pricey, so we usually pick the cheapest option. Note that while we believe that we are taking in the amount of vitamins and minerals specified on the bottle, this may not always be the case. Try to choose a well-known brand that is true to its label. Better yet, try consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals so that supplementation isn’t necessary.
HOW FUTURELIFE® SMART FOOD™ PROVIDES COMPLETE NUTRITION
A 50g serving of FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ mixed with low-fat milk, is a nutritionally complete and balanced meal as it provides an internationally recommended blend of energy from Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats7. It is the first and only scientifically formulated, low GI food that is high in energy. It is formulated using a key ingredient called SmartMaize™ which is the result of a patented cooking process, which gives it a distinct profile and a “unique fingerprint.” It is also high in dietary fibre and contains inulin, made from whole grains (which gives this product it’s “grainy” texture) to ensures optimal digestion and immune support.
FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ is high in protein and contains 19 amino acids. Formulated using unique FutureSoy, providing 21% of energy from protein and 9g of protein per 50g serving. It is high in Omega-3 and naturally free from trans fatty acids and cholesterol.
The product contains 21 Vitamins and Minerals delivering 50% of daily requirements for all vitamins and most minerals6.
As many individuals struggle to get in their 5-a-day from fruits and veggies and the cost of health foods and supplementation is high, having FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ is an excellent and affordable way to reach your vitamins and minerals needs every day. By just having one serving you are reaching 50% of your requirements for the day, this makes reaching your vitamin and mineral goal every day that much easier.
Additionally, it contains functional ingredients namely fibre and inulin (great for everyday digestive health) as well as MODUCARE® (a daily immune supplement, helping to balance and strengthen the immune system, made from a patented blend of natural plant sterols and sterolins).
We can now understand why so much stress is being placed on having our 5-a-day of fruits and vegetables. Try start your day tomorrow right by having a fruit with your favourite, affordable breakfast cereal, FUTURELIFE® Smart food™. We also often hear that we should be having a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. This is simply implying we should have variety as different colours usually contain different vitamins and minerals and therefore play different roles in our bodies. Let’s all aim for our 5-a-day and make sure we are getting enough of these foods filled with goodness.
- Mahan, L., Escott-Stump, S., & Raymond, J. (2012). Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process 13th Edition. Elsivier
- Harvard Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from Making Sense of Vitamins and Minerals: https://www.health.harvard.edu/special-health-reports/vitamins-and-minerals-choosing-the-nutrients-you-need-to
- Gavin, M. L. (n.d.). Teens Health. Retrieved from Vitamins and Minerals: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/vitamins-minerals.html-stay-healthy
- Nguyen, G. T. (2014, October 6). Ted Ed. Retrieved from How do vitamins work? -: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISZLTJH5lYg
- Harvard. (n.d.). Vitamins and Minerals Are We Getting Enough? Retrieved from Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/vitamins-and-minerals.htm/
- Canada, R. D. (2019). Readers Digest. Retrieved from 13 Essential Vitamins Your Body Needs to Stay Healthy: https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/13-essential-vitamins-your-body-needs-stay-healthy/