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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Nutrients, Not Foods, are Essential for Cellular Function

By Michael McBurney

Nutrients are essential for life. We eat foods to obtain vitamins and minerals required by our cells to function normally. Some believe that processing should be avoided despite the fact raw kidney beans can kill you and raw unpasteurized milk increases exposure to pathogens. Others eschew certain foods based on how they were grown (organic, natural) and avoid stigmatized food groups (sugar, fat).

All foods contain nutrients. Eicher-Miller and associates analyzed 24h dietary recall data from a representative sampling of people living in the US (2003-2008). Every food category (minimally processed to prepared foods/meals) contributed essential nutrients. Don’t obsess about food group, source (natural, organic, local) or amount of processing, focus on the energy and nutrient content of each serving, frequency of consumption of these foods, and serving size.

It is diet quality which is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and mortality. Remember, for most of us, our dietary practices aren’t the same as our intentions, and we often aren’t meeting dietary recommendations.  Multivitamin supplement use can help fill vitamin and mineral gaps and help reduce cardiovascular mortality.

Don’t gamble on being the exception – the person who is eating well and has met all their nutritional requirments. Micronutrient inadequacies are widespread. Read labels. Choose foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Use a multivitamin-mineral supplements as an insurance policy to meet vitamin and mineral requirements.

Our bodies, and our health and longevity, depends upon having vitamins and minerals.

Main Citation

Eicher-Miller HA, Fulgoni VL, Keast DR. Energy and nutrient intakes from processed foods differ by sex, income status, and race/ethnicity of US adults. 2015 JADA doi: 10.1016/.j.jand.2014.11.004

Other Citations

Rodhouse JC, Haugh CA, Roberts D, Gilbert RJ. Red kidney bean poisoning in the UK: an analysis of 50 suspected incidents between 1976 and 1989. 1990 Epidemiol Infect 105(3):485-491

Oliver SP. Food safety hazards associated with consumption of raw milk. 2009 Foodborne Pathogens & Disease doi: 10.1089/fpd.2009.0302

Reedy J, Wilkens LR, Le Marchand L, Henderson BE, Kolonel LN. Associations of key diet-quality indexes with mortality in the Multiethnic Cohort: the Dietary Patterns Methods Project. 2015 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.090688

Bailey RL, Fakhouri TH, Park Y, Dwyer JT, Thomas PR, Gahche JJ, Miller PE, Dodd KW, Sempos CT, Murray DM. Multivitamin-mineral use is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease mortality among women in the United States. 2015 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.114.204743