A pilgrimage to resource efficiency 

Why Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Are Important to Long Term Food Storage

This post originally appeared over at reThinkSurvival.com. It can be seen in its original form HERE.

Many people, me included, recommend vitamin supplements in your long term preps. Then, as I often do, I got to wondering how important they really were and if they’re possibly not needed at all. So, I figured the easiest way to decide this is to compare the numbers. Therefore, I looked for an easy to reference chart that listed the major vitamins and minerals as well as the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). According to the chart, the following major vitamins and minerals are needed (in alphabetical order, and ignoring dosages for now): boron, calcium, chloride, chlorine, copper, fluoride, folic acid (folate), iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, vanadium, vitamin A, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and zinc.

Rather than making my life remarkable difficult, I figured I would focus on the major long term food storage foods that can be purcahsed at–and are recommended by–the LDS Home Storage Center (you can view the PDF order form here). According to the order form, the following long term food storage foods are to be included in your pantry: beans (black, pinto, white), white rice, sugar, wheat (white and red), dry milk, oats (regular and rolled), dried onions, potato flakes, spaghetti, macaroni, apple slices, carrots, refried beans, cocoa mix, white flour, and fruit drink mix.

Obviously, there are plenty of other supplementary foods that can and should be included in your long term preps that will dramatically affect your vitamin and mineral intake but, again, we’re focusing on the aforementioned long term storage foods to keep things simpler. I’ve taken the liberty of listing the major vitamin and mineral contents for each long term food below as noted on the accompanying nutritional label. I should also point out that I’m ignoring a few other important aspects of your diet, such as fats, fiber, proteins, and even sugar and sodium:

  • black beans – calcium 6%, iron 15%
  • pinto beans – vitamin C 4%, calcium 6%, iron 15%
  • white beans – calcium 8%, iron 25%
  • white rice – iron 10%, thiamin 15%, niacin 10%, folate 25%
  • white sugar – NONE
  • white wheat – calcium 2%, iron 15%
  • red wheat – iron 8%
  • dry milk – vitamin A 15%, vitamin C 4%, calcium 35%, vitamin D 40%
  • oats – iron 6%
  • dry onions – vitamin C 4%
  • potato flakes – vitamin C 6%
  • spaghetti – iron 15%, thiamin 30%, riboflavin 20%, niacin 15%, folate 25%
  • macaroni – iron 15%, thiamin 30%, riboflavin 20%, niacin 15%, folate 25%
  • apple slices – NONE
  • carrots – vitamin A 610%, vitamin C 15%, calcium 6%, iron 6%
  • refried beans – vitamin C 4%, calcium 4%, iron 15%
  • cocoa mix – calcium 15%, iron 4%
  • white flour – iron 8%, thiamin 20%, riboflavin 10%, niacin 10%, folate 15%
  • fruit drink mix – vitamin A 10%, vitamin C 100%, calcium 10%, vitamin D 10%, vitamin E 10%, vitamin D 10%, vitamin E 10%, thiamin 10%, riboflavin 10%, niacin 10%, vitamin B6 10%, folate 10%, vitamin B12 10%, biotin 10%, pantothenic acid 10%

I was quite surprised that the fruit drink mix came in as perhaps the most well-rounded long term storage product in the above list. I’m also surprised that the apple slices don’t seem to include and vitamins and that the vitamin A content in carrots is 610%. I should also mention that I would imagine the aforementioned foods include additional vitamins and minerals not listed but are not in sufficient quantity to list on the label.

Now, here’s where we stand for each vitamin and mineral. Note that any item listed below with an asterik (*) was not originally listed in the aforementioned RDA chart but on the long term food storage label instead:

  • boron – NONE
  • calcium – black beans, pinto beans, white beans, white wheat, dry milk, carrots, refried beans, cocoa mix, fruit drink mix
  • chloride – NONE
  • chlorine – NONE
  • copper – NONE
  • fluoride – NONE
  • folic acid (folate) – white rice, spaghetti, macaroni, white flour, fruit drink mix
  • iodine – NONE
  • iron – black beans, pinto beans, white beans, white rice, white wheat, red wheat, oats, spaghetti, macaroni, carrots, refried beans, cocoa mix, white flour
  • magnesium – NONE
  • manganese – NONE
  • molybdenum – NONE
  • nickel – NONE
  • phosphorus – NONE
  • selenium – NONE
  • sodium – NONE
  • vanadium – NONE
  • vitamin A – dry milk, carrots, fruit drink mix
  • *vitamin B1 (thiamin) – white rice, spaghetti, macaroni, white flour, fruit drink mix
  • *vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – spaghetti, macaroni, white flour, fruit drink mix
  • vitamin B3 (niacin) – white rice, spaghetti, macaroni, white flour, fruit drink mix
  • *vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) – fruit drink mix
  • vitamin B6 – fruit drink mix
  • *vitamin B7 or H (biotin) – fruit drink mix
  • *vitamin B12 – fruit drink mix
  •  vitamin C – pinto beans, white rice, dry onions, potato flakes, carrots, refried    beans, fruit drink mix
  • vitamin D – dry milk, fruit drink mix
  • vitamin E – fruit drink mix
  • zinc – NONE

Obviously, there are quite a few needs shown above that don’t have any associated long term food storage food, the vast majority of which are minerals… that’s not good! Moreover, there are also vitamins that only have one or two associated long term foods, which doesn’t lend for much variety. On the other hand, there are a few very specific needs–folate, iron, a few B vitamins, and vitamin C–that seem fairly well covered.

So, where do we stand?

Like I mentioned previously, I’m sure you’ll be adding a variety of additional store-bought canned goods and other foods to supplement your long term foods. Perhaps you even have a variety of canned meats, dehydrated vegetables, and some eggs stored, all of which are HIGHLY recommended for other reasons besides vitamins and mineral content, including protein, fats, etc. In fact, it’s specifically foods like meats, dairy, vegetables, and fruits that contain many of the missing minerals.

All that said, looking from just a vitamin and mineral standpoint and focusing on long term foods storage foods only, the data looks fairly clear: include a vitamin supplement in your long term preps. Or, at the very least, a mineral supplement and maybe a vitamin B complex.

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