How balanced is my diet?

September 07, 2012

I take a daily multivitamin to make sure I'm getting everything I need as I figure my diet is probably not ideal. But what is an ideal diet? I decided to keep track of one day of eating and see how close I am coming to getting all my nutritional needs met. I'm focusing specifically on micro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc... Macro-nutrients, carbs, fats, proteins will not be take into consideration.

The Recommended Daily Intake or RDI was developed by the US to make sure people got enough vitamins to avoid any deficiency diseases such as scurvy. Whether this gives you enough vitamins for optimal performance is up for debate but for now we'll just focus on seeing what we need to eat to not get sick.

Here is what we are looking to have covered:

Vitamin A : 900μg
Vitamin C : 60mg
Calcium : 1000mg
Iron : 18mg
Vitamin D : 400 IU
Vitamin E : 30 IU
Vitamin K : 80 μg
Thiamin : 1.5mg
Riboflavin : 1.7mg
Niacin : 20 mg
Vitamin B6 : 2 mg
Folate : 400 μg
Vitamin B12 : 6 μg
Biotin : 300 μg
Pantothenic acid : 10 mg
Phosphorus : 1000 mg
Iodine : 150 μg
Magnesium : 400 mg
Zinc : 15 mg
Selenium : 70 μg
Copper : 2 mg
Manganese : 2 mg
Chromium : 120 μg
Molybdenum : 75 μg
Chloride : 3400 mg

Today I had 2 eggs for breakfast, 2 pieces of bacon and two pieces of white toast with butter. For Lunch I had a salad with Romaine Lettuce, 1/2 avocado, 50g of feta cheese, 1/4 cucumber, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. For dinner a cheese steak which is hoagie bun, sirloin steak, 1/4 onion, and cheese.

Here is the breakdown of the percentages I got in a PDF:

What I learned: I only got half the vitamin c, vitamin e, parenthetic acid and magnesium I need, and virtuously none of the vitamin D. Broccoli would remedy a lot of these, especially vitamin C. Liver would be good for iron and parenthetic acid. The interesting one is vitamin D. One can get it from the sun, but living in the northwest United States, we don't have the sun. It looks like I can get away with almost no supplements and maintain a balanced diet but the one thing I will have to take is my vitamin D pills.

What I was surprised by was what a power house of nutrients steak is. If you are a vegetarian you really need to do a lot of work to make up for all the stuff that is lacking without steak or other meats. Also romaine lettuce is packed with good stuff which I didn't expect. Iceberg lettuce is notoriously nutrient poor, and I'd heard romaine was better but I didn't realize how much better.

Another thing to note, anyone on a low carb diet will probably need to make sure they are filling in some gaps that would appear with an absence of any wheat products.

Considering this list was created on just one random day of what I eat, I feel my diet is pretty good. A lot of the things I am lacking are in foods I often eat, but just didn't happen to eat that day. I think the most important thing to take from this information is how important it is to eat a wide variety of foods. No food has everything you need so you want to have a large assortment of things to cover all your bases.

I would recommend everyone try this to see if there are any glaring holes in your diet.

You can go to: To get the information on virtually any food.

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