4 Factors Impacting Your Personal Nutrition Plan

By on August 10, 2017
4 Factors Impacting Your Personal Nutrition Plan

By Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.–

How often do you ponder how unique you are? There are more than seven billion people on this planet, yet from the color of your eyes to the sway of your moods, from your list of favorite foods to your health challenges, and from your lifestyle to your hopes for the future, there is no one created quite like you. 

Your nutritional needs also are unique. It makes sense that you can’t depend on a one-size-fits-all diet or vitamin supplement to meet your needs. You need a plan tailored to you, one that stacks the deck in favor of living a long, healthy, and vital life. 

There are an endless number of reasons you are unique. Here are four important ones that directly impact your nutrition.

Factor No. 1: What’s Age Got to Do With It?

Your age is just one example of how unique you are. For example, the body manufactures vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, but gradually loses this ability with age. In your 20s, your body could synthesize about 80 percent of the vitamin D that it made when you were in grade school. By the time you hit your 70s, vitamin D production has dropped to only about 40 percent. Dietary sources of vitamin D become increasingly more important, especially since vitamin D needs increase as your body makes less and less.  Both dietary sources and supplements are a must. (1-3)

Other nutrient requirements also change as you age. For example, vitamin B12 needs increase with advancing years (or if you are on stomach acid-blocking medications). Mineral needs, from calcium to zinc, increase, as do nutrients that protect your body as you age. (4-6)

Factor No. 2: You Are the Foods and Nutrients You Consume

For your second 50 years, basic diet guidelines emphasize the importance of consuming the right nutrients for your body and lifestyle. 

Generally for the entire population, individuals should aim for no less than five servings daily of colorful fruits and vegetables. Make sure at least one of those is a dark green leafy vegetable, such as spinach, kale, or chard (unless you are on a medication that requires avoiding greens). If you are overweight, increase the number of daily servings to eight or more. (29-35) For overall nutrition, emphasize 100 percent whole over refined grains. (36-39)

While general recommendations are useful in navigating nutrition, the goal is to move away from recommendations for the general population and drill down to what your unique body needs on a daily basis.  

The advent of technology merged with health and nutrition has paved the way to make personalized nutrition easily accessible and accurate. For instance, companies like Vitamin Packs help take the guesswork out of choosing a supplement just right for you. This nutrition subscription service takes your answers to an in-depth questionnaire and, using the latest technology, called Sage, creates a personalized approach to your unique health status and goals for wellness. 

The company’s technology examines more than 650 potential prescription drug interactions to either eliminate vitamins and nutrients known to interact with prescription medications or to help add nutrients that might be depleted by a medication you are taking. 

From your age and gender to your lifestyle habits, health conditions, stress level, and mood, all aspects of your unique needs are considered in formulating a supplement program. 

Factor No. 3: The Lifestyle You Live

Age and diet are just the tips of the nutritional iceberg when it comes to your personal needs. How you live your life and your current health status, including the medications you take, affect what and how much of certain nutrients you need. For example, some blood thinner medications require you to consume little or no vitamin K, while recent use of antibiotics increases your need for probiotics to replenish healthy gut bacteria. Your lifestyle, from how often you exercise and whether or not you smoke to your body weight, increase or decrease nutrient requirements. (7-21)

Factor No. 4: Wearing Your Emotions on Your Sleeve

Even your mood affects nutritional needs. Feeling down in the dumps? Vitamin B6 is important in producing the feel-good chemical, serotonin, which boosts mood. Are you under a lot of stress? If so, your body’s need for magnesium, vitamin C, and certain calming herbs also increases. The list goes on and on.  (22-28)

Being aware of the factors that impact your personal nutrition is an important step in achieving overall wellness that is uniquely suited just for you. Take the strides needed today to personalize your nutrition plan.

References

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3. Personal conversation with: Robert Russell, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Nutrition at Tufts University in Boston.

4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

5. The Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th Edition. National Academy Press. 

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21. Ljungh A, Wadstrom T: Lactic acid bacteria as probiotics. Cur Iss Intestl Micro 2006;7:73-89.

22. Williams A, Cotter A, Sabina A, et al: The role of vitamin B6 as treatment for depression. Family Practice 2005;22:532-537.

23. Bell I, Edman J, Morrow F, et al: Vitamin B1, B2, and B6 augmentation of tricyclic antidepressant treatment in geriatric depression with cognitive dysfunction. J Am Col Nutr 1992;11:159-163.

24. Bell I, Edman J, Morrow F, et al: B complex vitamin patterns in geriatric and young adult inpatients with major depression. J Am Ger Soc 1991;39:252-257.

25. Benton D, Haller J, Fordy J: Vitamin supplementation for 1 year improves mood. Neuropsychobiology 1995;32:98-105.

26. Hvas A, Juui S, Bech P, et al: Vitamin B6 level is associated with symptoms of depression. Psych Psychosom 2004;73:340-343.

27. Seelig M: Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions. J Am Col Nutr 1994;13:429-446. 

28. Widmer J, Henrotte J, Raffin Y, et al: Relationship between erythrocyte magnesium, plasma electrolytes and cortisol, and intensity of symptoms in major depressed patients. J  Affect Dis 1995;34:201-209.

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36.  Jensen M, Koh-Banerjee P, Hu F, et al: Intakes of whole grains, bran, and germ and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. Am J Clin N 2004;80:1492-1499.

42. Anderson J, Hanna T, Peng X, et al: Whole grain foods and heart disease risk. J Am Col N 2000;19:S291-S299.

37. Jacobs D, Pereira M, Meyer K, et al: Fiber from whole grains, but not refined grains, is inversely associated with all cause mortality in older women. J Am Col N 2000;19:S326-S330.

38. Liu S: intake of refined carbohydrates and whole grain foods in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease. J Am Col N 2002;21:298-306.

39. Liu S, Manson J, Stampfer M, et al: Whole grain consumption and risk of ischemic stroke in women. J Am Med A 2000;284:1534-1540.

 

Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. is a science advisory board member at www.vitaminpacks.com.

 

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4 Factors Impacting Your Personal Nutrition Plan