Whole foods tend to be loaded with nutrients.
In general, getting your nutrients from foods is better than getting them from supplements.
That being said, some foods are much more nutritious than others.
In some cases, one serving of a food can satisfy more than 100 percent of your daily requirements for one or more nutrients. Photo credit: Shutterstock
In some cases, one serving of a food can satisfy more than 100 percent of your daily requirements for one or more nutrients.
Here are eight healthy foods that contain higher amounts of certain nutrients than multivitamins.
Kale is extremely healthy.
Vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting and may play a role in bone health (2).
One cup or 67 grams, of fresh kale contains the following nutrients in extremely high amounts (3):
- Vitamin K1: 900 percent of the RDI.
- Vitamin C: 134 percent of the RDI.
- Copper: 111 percent of the RDI.
Furthermore, kale is also high in fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.
Bottom Line: Kale contains very high amounts of vitamin K1, vitamin C and copper. A single serving of fresh kale provides over 100 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for these nutrients.
The recommended daily intake is 150 micrograms/day. However, different types of seaweed contain varying amounts of iodine (9):
- 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 percent of the RDI.
Occasional seaweed consumption is a cheap, effective way to prevent iodine deficiency.
However, some types of seaweed, such as kelp, should not be consumed daily. Just one gram may exceed the upper level of safe intake, which is 1100 micrograms per day. This may cause adverse effects (10).
Bottom Line: Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, as one gram provides 20-1000 percent of the RDI. However, kelp is much higher in iodine than other types of seaweed and should not be consumed daily.
The liver is the most nutritious part of any animal.
It is rich in essential nutrients, including 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.
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 nutrients (11):
- Vitamin B12: 1200 percent of the RDI.
- Vitamin A: 6–700 percent of the RDI.
- Copper: 6–700 percent of the RDI.
Just be sure not to eat liver more often than once or twice a week, because excessive buildup of these nutrients may occur.
Bottom Line: Liver contains very high amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin A and copper. However, it should not be consumed more than once or twice a week.
4. Brazil Nuts
If you are lacking in selenium, then Brazil nuts may be the perfect snack.
The recommended daily amount is 50–70 micrograms, which may be achieved by consuming just one large Brazil nut.
Each nut may provide up to 95 micrograms of selenium (13).
Bottom Line: Brazil nuts are the single best dietary source of selenium. Just one large nut contains more than the recommended daily amount.
Shellfish, such as clams and oysters, are among the most nutritious types of seafood.
Clams are packed with vitamin B12. In fact, 100 grams provide over 1600 percent of the RDI.
Furthermore, they contain high amounts of other B-vitamins, potassium, selenium and iron (16).
Oysters are another type of nutritious shellfish. They contain an abundance of zinc and vitamin B12, with 100 grams containing 2–600 percent of the RDI (17).
Clams and oysters may be the perfect food for older individuals, as higher amounts of vitamin B12 are recommended after the age of 50.
Bottom Line: Clams and oysters both contain high amounts of vitamin B12, which is very important for older individuals. Shellfish are also high in many other nutrients.
Sardines are small, oily and nutrient-rich fish.
Although they are commonly served in cans, sardines can also be grilled, smoked or pickled when fresh.
One 92-gram (3.75 oz) serving contains more than half of the RDI for these essential fatty acids. It also contains over 300 percent of the RDI for vitamin B12 (24).
Furthermore, sardines contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, including high amounts of selenium and calcium.
Bottom Line: Sardines are a very nutrient-rich fish. They contain high amounts of essential fatty acids and over 300 percent of the RDI of vitamin B12.
7. Yellow Bell Peppers
Yellow bell peppers are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is 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.
Vitamin C deficiency, also known as scurvy, is very rare these days. Symptoms include fatigue, skin rashes, muscle pain and bleeding disorders (25).
One large yellow bell pepper, or about 186 grams, provides almost 600 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which is 75–90 mg.
Bottom Line: Yellow bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. One large bell pepper provides almost 600 percent of the recommended daily amount, which is up to 4 times the amount found in oranges.
8. Cod Liver Oil
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.
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 percent of the RDI for vitamin D.
However, cod liver oil also contains high amounts of vitamin A, about 270 percent 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.
Take Home Message
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.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Brian Bienkowski
Fish exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds pass on health problems to future generations, including deformities, reduced survival, and reproductive problems, according to a new study.
Low Levels Lead to Generational Impacts<p>Researchers exposed inland silverside fish to bifenthrin, levonorgestrel, ethinylestradiol, and trenbolone to levels currently found in waterways.</p><p>"Our concentrations were actually on the low end" of what is found in the wild, DeCourten said, adding that it was low amounts of chemicals in parts per trillion.</p><p>Bifenthrin is a pesticide; levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol are synthetic hormones used in birth controls; and trenbolone is a synthetic steroid often given to cattle to bulk them up.</p><p>Such endocrine-disruptors have already been linked to a variety of health problems in directly exposed fish including altered growth, reduced survival, lowered egg production, skewed sex ratios, and negative impacts to immune systems. But what remains less clear is how the exposure may impact future generations.</p><p>For their study, DeCourten and colleagues started the exposure when the fish were embryos and continued it for 21 days.</p><p>They then tracked effects on the exposed fish, and the next two generations.</p>
Inherited Problems<p>DeCourten said the altered DNA methylation is one of the plausible ways that future generations would experience health impacts from previous generations' exposure. Hormone-disrupting compounds have been shown to impact DNA methylation, which is an important marker of how an organism will develop.</p><p>"Methyl groups are added to specific sites on the genome, [the exposure] is not changing the genome itself, but rather how the genome is expressed," she said. "And that can be inherited throughout generations."</p><p>In addition, Brander said there are essentially different "tags" that exist on DNA molecules, which tell genes how to turn on and off. She said the exposure to different compounds may be "influencing which methyl tags get taken on or off as you proceed through generations."</p><p>The researchers said the study should prompt future toxics testing to consider impacts on future generations.</p><p>"The results … throw a wrench in the current approach to regulating chemicals, where it's often short-term testing looking at simple things like growth, survival, and maybe gene expression," Brander said.</p><p>"These findings are telling us we really at least need to consider" the next two generations, she added.</p>
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By Laura Beil
Consumers have long turned to vitamins and herbs to try to protect themselves from disease. This pandemic is no different — especially with headlines that scream "This supplement could save you from coronavirus."
Vitamin D<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Called "the sunshine vitamin" because the body makes it naturally in the presence of ultraviolet light, <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vitamin-d-supplements-lose-luster" target="_blank">Vitamin D is one of the most heavily studied</a> supplements (<em>SN: 1/27/19</em>). <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-12/" target="_blank">Certain foods</a>, including fish and fortified milk products, are also high in the vitamin.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>Vitamin D is a hormone building block that helps strengthen the immune system.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections:</strong> In 2017, the <em>British Medical Journal</em> published a meta-analysis that suggested a daily vitamin D supplement <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583" target="_blank">might help prevent respiratory infections</a>, particularly in people who are deficient in the vitamin.</p><p>But one key word here is <em>deficient. </em>That risk is highest during dark winters at high latitudes and among people with more color in their skin (melanin, a pigment that's higher in darker skin, inhibits the production of vitamin D).</p><p>"If you have enough vitamin D in your body, the evidence doesn't stack up to say that giving you more will make a real difference," says Susan Lanham-New, head of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Surrey in England.</p><p>And taking too much can create new health problems, stressing certain internal organs and leading to a dangerously high calcium buildup in the blood. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 to 800 International Units per day, and the upper limit is considered to be 4,000 IUs per day.</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin D and COVID-19:</strong> Few studies have looked directly at whether vitamin D makes a difference in COVID.</p>
Zinc<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Zinc, a mineral found in cells all over the body, is found naturally in certain meats, beans and oysters.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>It plays several supportive roles in the immune system, which is why zinc lozenges are always hot sellers in cold and flu season. Zinc also helps with cell division and growth.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457799/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies of using zinc for colds</a> — which are frequently caused by coronaviruses — suggest that using a supplement right after symptoms start might make them go away quicker. That said, a clinical trial from researchers in Finland and the United Kingdom, published in January in <em>BMJ Open</em> <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/1/e031662" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">did not find any value for zinc lozenges</a> for the treatment of colds. Some researchers have theorized that inconsistencies in data for colds may be explained by varying amounts of zinc released in different lozenges.</p><p><strong>What we know about zinc and COVID-19:</strong> The mineral is promising enough that it was added to some early studies of hydroxychloroquine, a drug tested early in the pandemic. (Studies have since shown that <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-no-evidence-treatment" target="_blank">hydroxychloroquine can't prevent or treat COVID-19</a> (<em>SN: 8/2/20</em>).)</p>
Vitamin C<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Also called L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C has a long list of roles in the body. It's found naturally in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, peppers and tomatoes.</p><p><strong>Why it might help:</strong> It's a potent antioxidant that's important for a healthy immune system and preventing inflammation.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong>Thomas cautions that the data on vitamin C are often contradictory. One review from Chinese researchers, published in February in the <em>Journal of Medical Virolog</em>y, looked at <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jmv.25707" target="_blank">what is already known about vitamin C</a> and other supplements that might have a role in COVID-19 treatment. Among other encouraging signs, human studies find a lower incidence of pneumonia among people taking vitamin C, "suggesting that vitamin C might prevent the susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections under certain conditions."</p><p>But for preventing colds, a 2013 Cochrane review of 29 studies <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">didn't support the idea</a> that vitamin C supplements could help in the general population. However, the authors wrote, given that vitamin C is cheap and safe, "it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial."</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin C and COVID-19: </strong>About a dozen studies are under way or planned to examine whether vitamin C added to coronavirus treatment helps with symptoms or survival, including Thomas' study at the Cleveland Clinic.</p><p>In a review published online in July in <em>Nutrition</em>, researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium concluded that the <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vitamin may help prevent infection</a> and tamp down the dangerous inflammatory reaction that can cause severe symptoms, based on what is known about how the nutrient works in the body.</p><p>Melissa Badowski, a pharmacist who specializes in viral infections at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and colleague Sarah Michienzi published an extensive look at all supplements that might be useful in the coronavirus epidemic. There's <a href="https://www.drugsincontext.com/can-vitamins-and-or-supplements-provide-hope-against-coronavirus/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">still not enough evidence to know whether they are helpful</a>, the pair concluded in July in <em>Drugs in Context</em>. "It's not really clear if it's going to benefit patients," Badowski says.</p><p>And while supplements are generally safe, she adds that nothing is risk free. The best way to avoid infection, she says, is still to follow the advice of epidemiologists and public health experts: "Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart."</p>
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