Vitamins, Minerals, & Development
Nutrients All Life LongREAD MORE
By the pound
If you’ve been studying our Stage Of Life chart here, you may be surprised by how the dietary reference intake (DRI) of nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus increases in the first half of life. Don’t babies need more nutrients than a 30 year old, whose body is already developed? After all, what’s with all that milk?
We do indeed need more vitamins and minerals during periods of growth, when cells are hard at work developing tissue and managing enormous metabolic transitions. Importantly, we require more nutrients per pound during those developmental phases. Rather than look at the number of milligrams or micrograms required from one life stage to the next, consider the weight of the nutrients relative to the weight of a person in that life stage. A 35-year-old woman needs fewer than 7 milligrams of calcium per pound, while a one-year-old baby needs 27 milligrams — nearly four times as much by the pound.
So, yes, the baby does need more milk per pound than you do. The body also needs nutrients in greater percentages during adolescence and pregnancy. Requirements for many vitamins and minerals decline later in life, but throughout all stages the balance of nutrients is influenced by a matrix of factors including lifestyle choices, hormonal changes, medication interactions, and the onset of disease.
Nutrition and the Brain
During gestation and infancy, diet is understood to play a substantial role in future intelligence. In fact, your ability to read these words is in part owed to the vitamins and minerals you consumed as a baby. Count your lucky stars, too, because low IQ among underprivileged populations around the world have been directly associated with malnutrition. LESS
Honey, I Fortified The KidsREAD MORE
The need for milk doesn’t end with the pre-school years, either. According to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, starting around age nine young people need twice as much calcium as younger kids do: approximately 1300 mg, or 3 cups of milk (900 mg) plus calcium-rich foods.
As any parent will tell you, there are two particularly trying aspects to raising children: saving enough for college, and trying to get vegetables into an 8 year old. Moms and dads often resort to prepackaged foods and drinks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals for kids who won’t go near anything green.
It’s not an unreasonable tactic. But because processed foods tend to be less filling and more dense in calories than whole foods, parents should be cautioned that the child may wind up consuming several times more calories and carbohydrates than needed when fortified processed foods are used as a delivery vehicle for nutrients. LESS
Supplemental HelpAbout that B12 Shot
Unlike other vitamins, B12 needs to bind with a protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor before it can be absorbed. Since we tend to have less intrinsic factor available as we age, and therefore less B12 in the system, people over 65 are often advised to take a B12 supplement if they are deficient. READ MORE
B12 is integral to many functions, including the healthy maintenance of nerve cells, the absorption of folic acid, and cell division. However, contrary to popular belief, B12 does not directly provide energy and cannot serve as a pick-me-up.
For the Elderly, a Caution about Supplements
Physicians may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements to older patients, particularly if the digestive system becomes sensitive to foods that have historically provided nutrients. But there’s also the potential for increased risk since we tend to take more medications and/or endure the effects of more chronic conditions as we age.
Beware of adverse interactions between multivitamin supplements and prescription drugs, and take them only under the advice of your doctor. Vitamin K, for example, can reduce the effectiveness of the blood thinner warfarin (trade name: Coumadin). Antioxidants including Vitamins C and E may reduce the effectiveness of some types chemotherapies used in the treatment of cancer. LESS