He handed her a prescription for medical strength Vitamin D and another for Iron and suggested she also up her Vitamin C, but he didnt’ dispense one gram of advice on which foods contain them. Perhaps he didn’t know, perhaps he didn’t feel it was his role to talk about a topic so un-medical as the dinner plate. Perhaps he just never thought to mention that if she ate more cauliflower soup (high in C and shown in pic above!) she may not even need those pills that turn sideways on their descent. But doctors are trained to write prescriptions not shopping lists.
I created the list below (showing which foods provide which level of nutrients) as a result of the conversation I had with this friend. She told me about the vitamin and mineral that were being threatened because of the drug’s pillaging of her body and we spoke about what foods she could eat to make up for the destruction medicine can leave as its making us better (or that stress can leave as it’s making us human.)
I’m by no means anti-supplements and there may be times when taking them is the only way to get what we need, it’s just that I’m radically pro-food. I’m pro trusting that red pepper are loaded with Vitamin C even though there is no label telling us so. I’m pro keeping the yolks in eggs since that’s where all the precious oils live. I’m pro eating plain yogurt to get mounds of calcium and I’m pro discovering how good cardamom and nutmeg are in cauliflower soup so that I can’t not be excited about eating it for its Vitamin A!
I should add that I was not always such a fierce advocate of “Food First”, so take my preachings as coming from a reformed vitamin-isle junkie. Five years ago a tingle in my throat had me on Vitamin C like it was candy (because that was the kind I bought – the orange ones, the ones that taste like Sweet Tarts, the ones you’re meant to grow out of by the time you stop carrying a lunch box.) These days I’ve culled my supplements to simply fish oil (for the Omega 3) and cod liver oil (for the D). I’m generally more comfortable with supplements that are the actual nutrient (in the case of fish oils) than those that are a synthetic version and though chemically identical, are not themselves the nutrient. That may be splitting hairs or simply justifying my practice, but it feels right for me.
Below are some examples of which foods contain what quantity of some of the more commonly bottled nutrients.
An important note re the RDA (recommended daily allowance), there is enormous debate over the levels, with many “experts” feeling these are far too low (especially for D, which some believe should be 10x this level), so take these as a mere guideline and adjust to suite your needs.
Vitamin A (RDA 5000 Int’l Units)
Kale (1 cup raw), 10,ooo IU
Cantaloupe ( 1/8 of a large melon), 3,000 IU
Folate (B Vitamin) (RDA 400 milligrams)
Spinach (1 cup cooked), 194 mg
Lentils (1/2 cup cooked), 180 mg
Vitamin C (RDA 90 milligrams)
Red Pepper (1 cup chopped), 190 mg
Cauliflower (1 cup chopped), 52 mg
Vitamin D (RDA 600 Int’l Units)
Sunshine (Hard to say how much time you need since there are so many variables (time of year, time of day, color of skin). But unless you’re a lifeguard who’s sworn off sunscreen, you’re likely not getting all that you need from the sun.)
Tuna (1 tin), 300 IU
Vitamin E (RDA 15 milligrams)
Almonds, (1/4 cup), 10 mg
Avocado (1/2 avocado), 10 mg
Calcium (RDA 1000 milligrams)
Yogurt (1 cup plain whole milk), 296 mg
Mustard Greens (1 cup cooked), 104 mg
Iron (RDA 8 milligrams)
Kidney Beans (or Adzuki) (1/2 cup), 2.5 mg
Beef (4oz sirloin or one hamburger patty), 1.6 mg
But back to the cauliflower soup…it’s in season now in the NE and though I love to eat it roasted, I’ve been whirling it into its liquid version with outstanding results. A few of the secret ingredients I used are celery leaves, cardamom, and nutmeg. Chive blossoms lie on top.
To prolong the blossoms, stick the chives in a jar of water in the fridge and they’ll be in bloom for weeks.
I tossed about 6 cardamom pods into the soup, simmered it and blended. Do not do this. The pods do not blend and you’ll wind up pulling bits of cardamom husk out of your mouth. Crack open the pods, and use the seeds only.
So what’s your take on supplements? Or what are your favorite ways to get what you need “Food First”?
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