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33 Foods You Should Eat Instead Of Popping a Multivitamin

33 Foods You Should Eat Instead Of Popping a Multivitamin
Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News

Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs to grow and function properly.

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You’ve probably heard of the 13 essential vitamins (A, C, D, E, K and 8 B vitamins) and essential minerals (like calcium and potassium). They’re good for you and keep your body running smoothly. But since we don’t make enough of these on our own, we need to get them through our diet, as Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, tells BuzzFeed Health.

Each vitamin and mineral has a recommended daily allowance (RDA) determined by the USDA. That’s because you only need so much of each vitamin and mineral; too much or too little can cause problems, registered dietitian Brian St. Pierre, director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition, tells BuzzFeed Health.

But loading up on extra vitamins won’t improve anything or give you superpowers.

33 Foods You Should Eat Instead Of Popping a Multivitamin

Vitamins kind of work like gas in a car. “If your tank is empty, then you need to add more gas for your car to run properly — but if the tank is full, adding more gas isn’t going to make the car run any better,” Hensrud says. So, while a vitamin A deficiency can lead to vision problems, getting more vitamin A than recommended won’t make you wake up with perfect vision.

In fact, your body can only absorb as much as it needs of a certain vitamin, and any extra amount won’t be used. Excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins (like B-complex or C) will just come out in your urine, Hensrud says, and excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K ) will get stored in your body’s tissues.

Instead of popping a multivitamin, most people should be getting the bulk of their vitamins and minerals from food, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Instead of popping a multivitamin, most people should be getting the bulk of their vitamins and minerals from food, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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That’s because whole foods have thousands of other compounds and phytochemicals that interact with the vitamins and minerals to give us a more complex source of nutrients. If you just get your vitamins from a pill, you miss out on all the other good stuff, St. Pierre says.

“Mother nature is pretty smart, so the concentration and combination of nutrients in whole foods is way more optimal than a synthetic supplement,” Hensrud says. Population studies on people who consume mostly whole foods like veggies, fruits, nuts, and fish show a lower risk of overall mortality (death), cardiovascular disease, and cancer. But randomized controlled trials on people who take isolated supplements show little to no benefit, Hensrud says.

That said, there are exceptions where vitamin supplements are necessary — like in people with diagnosed vitamin deficiencies caused by another medical condition, or in pregnant women who need prenatal vitamins like folic acid to support embryonic development, says Hensrud.

So how can you make sure you’re eating enough vitamins and minerals? We’ll make it easy for you…

Here’s a list of some of the most common vitamins and minerals you might typically get from a multivitamin — but instead, we included a few options for getting them in food form. Eat up!

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Why you need it: Vitamin A is important for good vision, the immune system, embryonic development, and bone growth.

How much you need: Adults need about 700–900 micrograms (µg) per day.

According to the experts, the healthiest way to get vitamin A is from carotenoids, which are found in fruits and vegetables and get converted to vitamin A in the body — as opposed to pre-formed vitamin A, which is found in animal and dairy products.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes

Jen and Emily / Via layersofhappiness.com

One medium sweet potato (weighing about 90 grams) has 865 micrograms of vitamin A, which is about 100% of your RDA.

Get this simple roasted sweet potato recipe here.

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce

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Three cups of shredded romaine lettuce has 615 micrograms of vitamin A, which is about 77% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for this tasty Mediterranean salad here.

Baby carrots

Baby carrots

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About nine baby carrots (or 120 grams) has 828 micrograms of vitamin A, which is about 100% of your RDA.

According to the experts, it’s true that excess vitamin A from eating too many carrots can turn your skin a little orange!

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Why you need it: Vitamin B6 is important for protein metabolism, forming neurotransmitters, enzyme function, and the nerve system.

How much you need: Adults need about 1.3–1.5 milligrams per day.

Yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

Bri Jatlow / Via bitesofbri.com

Four ounces of seared yellowfin tuna has 1.17 milligrams of vitamin B6, which is about 84% of your RDA.

Find the recipe for these seared tuna tostadas here.

Brown rice

Brown rice

One and a half cups of cooked medium-grain brown rice has 0.44 milligrams of vitamin B6, which is about 31% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for Mexican brown rice here.

Chicken breast

Chicken breast

Lindsay Landis / Via loveandoliveoil.com

One cup of diced roasted chicken breast (or about 67 grams) has 0.78 milligrams of vitamin B6, which is about 55% of your daily value.

Get the recipe for orange skillet-roasted chicken breasts here.

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Why you need it: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s important for protecting cells from damaging free radicals (like from smoke and pollution), synthesizing collagen for healthy skin, and absorbing iron.

How much you need: Adults need 75–90 milligrams per day.

Bell peppers

Bell peppers

One medium bell pepper has 95.7 milligrams of vitamin C, which is just over 100% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for these delicious mini bell pepper “pizzas” here.

Strawberries

Strawberries

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One cup of halved strawberries has 89.4 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about 100% of your RDA.

Oranges

Oranges

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One large orange has about 97.9 milligrams of vitamin C, which is just over 100% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for this orange salad with spiced cranberries here.

Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News

Why you need it: Vitamin E is important for cell signaling, healthy skin, protecting cells from free radicals, and immune function.

How much you need: Adults need about 15 milligrams per day.

Vitamin E comes in many forms but the only one found naturally in food which meets human’s nutritional needs is alpha-tocopherol.

Avocado

Avocado

One large avocado (about 200 grams) has 4.16 milligrams of vitamin E, which is about 27% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for this mouth-watering avocado toast here.

Almonds

Almonds

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One-half cup of dry roasted almonds has 16.49 milligrams of vitamin E, which is just over 100% of your RDA.

Spinach

Spinach

Elizabeth Lindermann / Via bowlofdelicious.com

Two cups of cooked spinach has 7.49 milligrams of vitamin E, which is about 50% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for sautéed spinach with garlic and lemon here.

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Why you need it: Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and coagulation, amino acid metabolism, and forming strong bones.

How much you need: Adults need 90–120 micrograms per day.*

*Daily intake will change if you are on blood-thinning medication.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Chung Ah-Ree / Via damndelicious.net

One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 109.4 micrograms of vitamin K, which is about 100% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for slow cooker balsamic sprouts here.

Kale

Kale

Jenna Beaugh / Via eatliverun.com

One cup of chopped kale has 112.8 micrograms of vitamin K, which is about 100% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for kale salad with almond, oranges, and avocado here.

Fresh basil

Fresh basil

Sally McKenny / Via sallysbakingaddiction.com

One cup of fresh basil leaves has 49.8 micrograms of vitamin K, which is about 50% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for delicious homemade basil pesto here.

Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News

Why you need it: Calcium is important for bone density, forming teeth, muscle contraction, and hormone secretion.

How much you need: Adults need about 1,000 milligrams per day.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt

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One cup (about 285 grams) of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt has 328 milligrams of calcium, which is about 33% of your RDA.

Top it with honey and berries for a naturally sweet and healthy parfait!

Fresh mozzarella

Fresh mozzarella

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Three slices of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella has 585 milligrams of calcium, which is about 50% of your RDA.

Layer sliced mozzarella and tomatoes then top with fresh basil for an easy caprese salad.

Collard greens

Collard greens

One cup of cooked, previously frozen collard greens has 357 milligrams of calcium, which is about 36% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for Southern-style collard greens with ham here.

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Why you need it: Folate is important for red blood cell formation, protein synthesis, fetal health, and preventing neural tube defects in pregnant women.

How much you need: Adults need 400 micrograms per day.

Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed peas

One cup of boiled black eyed peas (or cowpeas) has 356 micrograms of folate, which is about 89% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for hearty “cowboy caviar” here.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Natasha Kravchuk / Via natashaskitchen.com

Six stalks of asparagus (1/2” base) have 134 micrograms of folate, which is about 34% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for roasted asparagus with bacon here.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

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One cup of cooked chickpeas has 282 micrograms of folate, which is about 70% of your RDA.

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Why you need it: Iron is important for hemoglobin production, forming red blood cells, cellular energy production, and metabolizing drugs in the body.

How much you need: Adults need an average of 13 milligrams per day.*

*Specifically, men need 8 milligrams per day and anyone who gets a period needs 18 milligrams per day to support iron loss during menstruation.

Dark chocolate (70–85% cacao)

Dark chocolate (70–85% cacao)

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One-half of a 100-gram bar (or 50 grams) of dark chocolate has 6.5 milligrams of iron, which is about 50% of your RDA.

Swap this rich, cacao-filled dark chocolate into your cookies and baking for a more nutritious treat.

Chuck beef

Chuck beef

Natasha Kravchuk / Via natashaskitchen.com

Eight ounces of chuck beef has 7.21 milligrams of iron, which is about 55% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for beef stew with carrots and potatoes here.

Lentils

Lentils

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One cup of cooked lentils has 6.59 milligrams of iron, which is about 50% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for lentil and quinoa chili here.

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Why you need it: Magnesium is important for over 300 enzymes in the body, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, protein synthesis, and wound healing.

How much you need: Adults need 320–420 milligrams per day.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Julie Deily / Via thelittlekitchen.net

One cup of cooked swiss chard has 150 milligrams of magnesium, which is about 40% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for fettuccine with swiss chard and garlic here.

Cashews

Cashews

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One half cup of dry-roasted cashews has 178 milligrams of magnesium, which is about 48% of your RDA.

Black beans

Black beans

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One cup of cooked black beans has 120 milligrams of magnesium, which is about 32% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for black bean burritos here.

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Why you need it: Potassium is important for fluid retention, electrolyte balance, heart function, and reactions in every cell of the body.

How much you need: Adults need 4.7 grams per day.

Russet potato

Russet potato

Ali Ebright / Via gimmesomeoven.com

One large (3- to 4-inch diameter) russet potato has 1.64 grams of potassium, which is about 35% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for the “perfect baked potato” here.

Prunes

Prunes

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One cup of dehydrated, low-moisture prunes has 1.4 grams of potassium, which is about 30% of your RDA.

Sun-dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes

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One cup of sun-dried tomatoes has 1.85 grams of potassium, which is about 39% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for this tasty sun-dried tomato pesto here.

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Why you need it: Zinc is important for neurological function, immune function, cell structure, and promoting chemical reactions in the body.

How much you need: Adults need 8–11 milligrams per day.

Shrimp

Shrimp

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Six ounces of cooked shrimp have 2.79 milligrams of zinc, which is about 31% of your RDA.

Peanuts

Peanuts

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One-half cup of oil-roasted peanuts have 4.73 milligrams of zinc, which is about 53% of your RDA.

Sirloin steak

Sirloin steak
Jordan Shakeshaft / Via dailyburn.com

Eight ounces (about 1 medium steak) of trimmed sirloin has 12.08 milligrams of zinc, which is just over 100% of your RDA.

Get the recipe for grilled steak with tangy chimichurri here.

Source: buzzfeed



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