Nutrient Analysis Project: Do You Need a Multivitamin?

This week in my Nutrition class, our project was to track everything we ate for one day and look up the nutrient information on the National Agricultural Library’s website at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/. This gives WAY more information than the Nutrition Labels on the back of the box. This was an eye opening assignment for me, and I realized that I actually do pretty well even before taking my multivitamin. I’ll post my meals for the day of analysis and my results at the end of this post. I can’t be too specific, just in case other classmates are out there reading this, but I will summarize my findings. I highly recommend everyone do this project, just to see where you stand. It is possible to get all of your vitamins and minerals from your diet and not have to take a supplement. Those who need to especially consider supplements would be children, elderly, and vegetarians or vegans (as certain vitamins and minerals are ONLY found in animal products and byproducts). So, here’s the project:

Nutrient Analysis Instructions:

  1. Record your food and drink intakes for a 24-hour period (include amounts: for example 1 cup cereal, 1 tbsp jelly, 3 ounces chicken).
  2. Go to http://www.mypyramid.gov, scroll down to the right to My Pyramid Plan and enter your personal information to get a personalized calorie (kcal) level to use for this assignment.
  3. For this project, we had to look up Energy (kcal), Protein (g), Carbohydrates (g), Fiber (g), Total Fat (g), Saturated Fat (g), Cholesterol (mg). There is not a DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) for fat or cholesterol, but there are recommendations. For cholesterol use 300 mg as your max daily allowance. To get your fat gram recommendation, calculate 30% of your calorie level for fat grams. Then 10% of your calorie level for saturated fat grams. Remember, there are each fat gram yields 9 kcals. So, divide your total calories by 9 then multiply by 30% (.3) for fat and by 10% (.1) for saturated fat.
  4. For vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, use the DRI Tables in the back of your textbook. (Since you don’t have the textbook, you can find the same charts that I have in my textbook here.) Make sure you use the Recommended Intakes for individuals (not the upper tolerable limits). For this part, we looked up Vitamin A (mcg), Vitamin C (mg), Vitamin E (mg), Thiamin (mg), Riboflavin (mg), Niacin (mg), Magnesium (mg), Vitamin B6 (mg), Folate (mcg), Vitamin B12 (mcg), Iron (mg), Zinc (mg), and Phosphorous (mg). (mg = milligram; mcg = microgram)
  5. Use the USDA nutrient website to look up foods and get their information: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/. Do not just use food labels because that will provide incomplete information! When using this website pick Vitamin A content in mcg RAEs – NOT IUs (RAE = Retinal Activity Equivalents; IU = International Units).
  6. Add up your total intakes and compare your intakes to the recommended intake (DRI). Calculate your % DRI to see if you met your needs. To do this, divide your intake by the DRI and multiply by 100. For example if you consumed 65 mg vitamin C and the DRI is 90 mg then your calculation would be: 65 / 90 = .72 x 100% = 72% which means you were 38% below the DRI recommendation.

My Meals for the Day:

Breakfast: 1/2 c. blueberries, 1 c. strawberry soup, 1 c. coffee with 1 tsp. each of sugar and 1 tsp. of non-dairy powdered creamer.

Snack: 1 medium red pepper, 1/3 c. homemade hummus.

Lunch: 1 serving chicken pot pie, 1 plum.

Dinner: 1 c. medium grain white rice, 1/2 c. black-eyed peas, 1 tab of butter.

Snack: 1/2 c. vanilla ice cream.

My Results:

UNDER:

Calcium: 35.2% of DRI. I try to avoid an excess of dairy, so I may need to take a calcium supplement or consider calcium fortified orange juice. That or I can add a yogurt for breakfast.

Vitamin E: Only at 34.6%. My multivitamin yields 30 IU, which is basically equivalent to the RDA. I could also eat a bowl of raisin bran or have 1 oz. of sunflower seeds or almonds to naturally increase this level.

Magnesium: Only at 50.50%. My multivitamin adds 50 mg, but that still only brings me up to 63% of DRI. I should add a few tablespoons of peanut butter, an ounce of sunflower seeds and some extra spinach as good sources of magnesium.

Folate: 94.75%. Pretty good. And I take a vitamin supplement that has 400mcg of Folic Acid on top of that.

Vitamin B12: Only at 30.83%. Only found in animal products, which I don’t eat a ton of. However, my multivitamin adds 6mcg, which is almost 3 times the DRI. Adding a yogurt or a boiled egg as a snack would help, since B12 only comes from animal products.

Iron: Only at 63.25%, however my multivitamin does provide 100% DRI in addition to this, so I should be fine. Spinach would also help here.

Zinc: At 69.63%, however my multivitamin provides almost 2 times the DRI. If I add the yogurt and sunflower seeds, this level will also go up.

OVER:

Vitamin C: 422.27% – 1 red pepper has twice the DRI of Vit C. Still didn’t come close to toxicity levels. UL is 2 grams, so I’m still far within allowed amounts.

Niacin: 147.39% – limit portion size of poultry. I consumed 20.6 mg of niacin, which is still 15 mg under the UL.

Vitamin B6: 130% – a little high, but fine. I consumed 1.69 mg. UL is 100 mg per day, which I am far below, so this is not of concern.

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