Labels, Part Seven: Vitamins and other such stuff

So…you’ve made it this far, eh?

At the beginning you didn’t think there was that much to the nutrition label, did you? And I’ve only given you a glimpse of what there is to learn! There’s even more, believe it or not.

Ok, so the last thing I want to talk about is vitamins. Yes, vitamins.

Now some of us have malabsortive digestive systems and so we won’t ever absorb vitamin content as well as we did pre-op. Some do not have malabsorptive procedures. Either way, I’d argue that vitamin content in food is still important.

But the MOST important thing, I think, about this particular section of the nutrition label is this: take the information in stride. There is more than one way to get a vitamin in some food.

For those of you who though Lucky Charms were magically delicious because it naturally came with vitamins, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. Those vitamins are fortified, meaning by some scientific process the vitamins were added to the product.

For the record, most food companies try to use complimentary vitamins and minerals together (vitamin C and iron, for instance), but still. Use your good sense, people. Just because it is “vitamin fortified” doesn’t make it healthy!

So what the heck can the vitamin panel tell us?

  • It can tell us the percentage of daily value of nutrients that are in that serving of food. Remember the other day when I said the daily value can sometimes not be helpful because it is based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet? This is NOT true for vitamins. The daily value of vitamins are determined for healthy individuals and are not depending on caloric thresholds. So you still need a certain amount of calcium every day, for example. Regardless of whether you eat 1,000 or 10,000 calories to get it.
  • Speaking of calcium, a nutritionist once taught me a neat trick and I’ve found it to be very true: if you take the percentage daily value of calcium and add a “0” to the end, that’s how many mg of calcium are in that serving of food.

Here are a few more helpful tips about the vitamin content:

  • If a food has 5 percent or less of the daily value of a nutrient, it is considered low in that nutrient.
  • If a food has 20 percent or higher of the daily value of a nutrient, it is considered high in that nutrient.

There’s much more to learn about vitamins in general. I’m sure one day I might work up the nerve to do a series on them. For now, what do YOU know about the vitamin portion of the nutritional label? Share it in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter or by e-mail. Let’s learn from one another!

That about wraps up this BF Basics series. I’m away for the weekend (thank you auto-posting!) so I’ll have the downloadable version of this ready for you first thing on Monday. I hope this helps empower you to go out and be a Bariatric Foodie!

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