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Making Nutrition Count with Healthy Food Storage

There are many factors to consider when purchasing food storage supplies or food in general. These can include: flavor, variety, cost and nutrition. Some mistakenly believe that any stored food will suffice, regardless of the nutritional value. 

Although providing adequate calories during emergency situations is the first expectation we have of storage food, providing necessary nutritional value per calorie is absolutely essential and vital for our health. Protein, vitamins, and minerals become increasingly important when we are under stress. While sugary drinks, candy, and desserts have their place in providing quick energy, variety, and flavor to the diet, their calories are "empty" of nutritive value (or nearly so). The best way to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrients is to eat a wide variety of foods, especially those known to be high in vitamins and minerals with a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. 

High-quality protein can be obtained from meat, fish, beans (including soybean products), dairy, eggs, and combinations of certain grains and vegetables. Protein is vital for growth, cell repair, and energy. The National Institute of Health's Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) suggests that our protein intake should average 10 percent to 35 percent of our daily caloric intake. The DRI for young children (ages one through three) is 13 grams of protein, which increases with age until adulthood. Men need an average of 56 grams of protein a day, and women an average of 46 grams. This can increase during times of stress, pregnancy, and illness, or if a person is unusually active athletically. 

In addition to protein, The NIH suggests that about 45 percent to 65 percent of our calories should come from carbohydrates (mostly whole-grains, fruits and vegetables) and 20 percent to 35 percentfrom fat. Saturated and trans-fats should be avoided as they can promote heart disease. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, actually help fight heart disease when used in moderation. Good sources are avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, Canola oil, and fish such as salmon and tuna. Fat is necessary to produce hormones, pad and protect the internal organs, and help absorb the vitamins that we consume. 

Vitamins help our bodies in many ways, including repairing cells, promoting healing, protecting against the destruction caused by free-radicals in our environment, keeping organs healthy (including skin, eyes, and mucous membranes), aiding in production of new blood cells, and much more. RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of common vitamins include:

Vitamin A: 700-900 mcg
Vitamin E: 15 mg
Vitamin C: 75 to 90 mg
Vitamin K: 90-120 mg
Vitamin D: 600-00 IU*  
Thiamine: 1-1.2 mg
Riboflavin: 1-1.3 mg
Niacin: 14-16 mg
Pantothenic acid: 5 mg
Biotin: 30 mg
B-6: 1.2-1.7 mg
B-12: 2.4 mcg
Folate (Folic acid):400 mcg

*International Unit

Minerals are divided into Macro-minerals (which we need large amounts) and trace minerals (which we also need, but only in small amounts). Macro-minerals include calcium (RDA 1000 mg), magnesium (RDA 310-420 mg), phosphorus (700 mg), sodium, and potassium (no RDA presently established for the latter two.) Trace minerals include iron, copper, zinc, Selenium, iodine, and others. Minerals are necessary for a myriad of functions, including the ability to maintain bone, nerve, and muscle health, to produce healthy blood cells, to balance the body?s chemistry, and to prevent many diseases. 

Not all calories are created equal. Learn more about nutrition and select a wide variety of storage foods in order to include all these crucial nutrients to your diet. This will help you to maintain your health during stressful times. Avoid empty calories and select food that you know will not only keep you alive, but living well! 

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