By Kulani Mahikoa Executive Vice President
Kirkman Group, Inc.
Kirkman Group, Inc.
If you are a typical Kirkman® customer with special dietary requirements and sensitivities, you may be more prone to nutritional deficiencies than other folks.
Food allergies, for example, may keep you from eating the full range of foods that provide the nutrition that your body may need. Chronic health issues may affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly causing deficiencies. Taste and texture issues, common among special needs children, may eliminate whole food groups and important nutrients from the diet.
Nutritional deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems, on the other hand nutritional sufficiency, can help ward off health issues. For special needs individuals who can’t eat certain nutrient rich foods, nutritional supplements are a good alternative to provide the nutrients that may be lacking.
Here are our top five recommendations to help you determine the daily nutritional regimen that’s right for you.
1. Start with your physician
Ask your physician to order a “nutritional status” test. This is a laboratory test that provides specific information about your body’s 1) condition with respect to your diet 2) level of nutrients 3) ability to maintain normal metabolic integrity based on those levels. The test provides a roadmap for you and your physician regarding a diet or nutritional supplement plan. Your physician can also recommend other healthcare professionals who may be helpful such as a nutritionist or dietitian.
2. Know Your Target Nutritional Goals
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have set recommended Daily Values (DVs) and Daily Recommended Intakes (DRIs) for the amounts of nutrients you need to keep healthy and stay well nourished. The IOM also recommends the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of a nutrient by age group, which is the amount of the nutrient that can generally be taken safely. For example, with many vitamins and minerals, you can safely take a dose much higher than the DV or RDI without coming close to the UL. Your physician’s advice and following DV, DRI and UL charts can help you determine what nutrients to take and in what amounts.
3. Know What Each Nutrient Does
Read up on nutrients. There are many free sources of information about nutrients on the web. An especially good source is the Linus Pauling Institute, a center devoted to research regarding the role that vitamins and micronutrients may have in enhancing health. Look up and know what each nutrient and supplement does, and its risks and benefits.
4. Read Labels
Information on both food and nutritional supplement labels usually contain five common elements: statement of identity, the products net weight, the manufacturer’s address, nutrition (food) or supplement facts and an ingredient list. The type of nutrients the product contains and amounts are found in the nutrition or supplement facts boxes. Since the FDA regulates the food and supplement industries, the DVs are the recommended daily values listed.
The update of the 2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which took effect on January 1, 2006, also mandates that food and nutritional supplements containing certain allergens such as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy be declared on a label. For special needs individuals with food allergies, reading these statements may be of critical importance.
5. Buy Pesticide Free Food and Nutritional Supplements
Exposures to pesticides can cause a myriad of health problems. For special needs individuals who may be particularly sensitive to environmental contaminants, consuming pesticides is like adding bricks to an already full wagon.
Currently the regulations for the use of pesticides pertain primarily to a list of banned pesticides issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. There are no regulations regarding detecting or measuring pesticides in food and supplements even though the U.S. uses more than 1 billion pounds (22% of the world’s pesticide usage) of pesticides each year. Many food and nutritional supplement companies test for pesticides in their products but Kirkman® offers the most comprehensive testing for pesticides and other harmful chemicals in the marketplace. Kirkman® tests every product in its brand for more than 950 environmental contaminants including hundreds of pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, biocides and herbicides.