It’s no secret that the human body needs a wide assortment of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in sufficient quantities to stay healthy. Never is this more important than in hard times due to any number of problems, including a lack of food, poor hygiene, questionable water, stress… you name it. In long term situations we like to feel that, as preppers, we’re going to be ok because we have food storage and water reserves to see us through.
The problem we tend not to address head-on is a lack of proper nutrition in our food storage. Regardless of what you think about the current state of food here in America–with regards to GMOs, hybrids, fast food, etc–one thing that would be difficult to argue with is the fact that most of us eat a wide assortment of foods and in so doing are likely to receive the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy (or at least stay alive) BECAUSE we eat a wide variety of foods.
The question, therefore, is what happens to our vitamin intake when our food consumption options are now a fraction of the wide variety we’re accustomed to and, more importantly, what can we do about it?
Well, for starters it helps to know what the body needs to survive. According to NaturalNews.com:
“There are two types of vitamins, fat soluble vitamins (vitamins which dissolve in fat) which are vitamins A, D, E and K, and Water soluble vitamins which are B complex, C, and folate (folic acid)… The essential minerals which we need to be healthy are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, and fluorine. The essential trace elements are copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iodine.”
Now, guess what foods typically have the highest percentages of these vitamins and minerals in them? It’s usually vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy products, with some exceptions, such as beans and grains being relatively high in minerals.
If you’ve done any food storage whatsoever then you know that all of the aforementioned are NOT on the long term storables list (you know, 30+ years). Usually, it’s wheat, rice, and beans as the big three to stockpile and whatever else you can afford to include. This is a good place to point out that I understand that the purpose of food storage is to keep you alive–and not necessarily thriving–but if you’re going to go to all of that trouble, why not take it a bit further and plan for your vitamin needs too? I’m sure your tastebuds will thank you.
Let’s look at the big three vitamin and mineral content: wheat, rice, and beans.
- Wheat – usually includes thiamin and niacin (both B vitamins) as well as some minerals (iron, zinc, riboflavin, etc)
- White Rice – also includes thiami and niacin (B vitamins), folate (another vitamin), as well as iron, manganese, and selenium (minerals)
- Beans (somewhat depends on the bean) – though most dried beans include folate (vitamin), manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, and potassium (minerals)
I was tempted to throw in oats as the fourth major food staple but it’s roughly the same as the others only much higher in minerals. Note that it is apparently possible to get too much of specific minerals in your diet.
By and large, your food storage is more geared toward minerals than vitamins for sure and this is a problem! Of course, there’s more to the story than just these very specific vitamins and minerals as these foods also often contain other vitamins and/or minerals too but in much smaller quantities. In addition, these foods typically provide a good source of fats, protein, and fiber too… but that’s not what this post is about… it’s about missing vitamins.
So, what to do about the missing vitamins?
To get the missing vitamins you MUST do one or more of the following (the more the merrier):
- Store canned vegetables and meats – For short term situations (a few weeks to months) you can stockpile quite an arry of common foods, from canned corn and green beans to canned tuna and chicken.
- Can/dehydrate vegetables and meats – There’s a reason why people have been canning and/or dehydrating vegetables and meats for a long time. Since they’re sometimes difficult to acquire (or merely season) having the ability to store foods high in vitamins is crucial to your health. I’m partial to dehydrating but canning is far more popular. I suggest you choose one and go for it!
- Vegetable gardening and planting perennials – Stored foods will get you only so far and that’s why gardening is a must for honest long term survival. Even if you’re not preparing for TEOTWAWKI, it never hurts to learn such a valuable skill. Speaking from experience, gardening can be challenging. If tending to plants on a daily basis isn’t your cup of tea, consider planing berry bushes and even fruit trees to supplement some vitamin needs.
- Store eggs (or raise them) – eggs happen to have quite a bit of vitamins A, D, E, riboflavin, B12, as well as a bunch of others and even plenty of minerals. If there’s ONE food to go out of your way to keep around, it might be the egg. There are ways to store eggs without refrigeration for up to a year and if you’re the DIY type, consider raising a few chickens or ducks to get farm fresh quality almost year round.
- Sprout grains – For some reason sprouting typically increases the nutrients of whatever was sprouted, be it wheat, rice, or any other grain. My wife used to sprout wheat regularly and include it in our salads. The best part is that it really doesn’t take much effort and the benefits can be seen within just a few days.
- Get out into the sun – It’s well known that your body naturally converts the suns energy into vitamin D. Simply getting some rays for 10-20 minutes each day is all most people seem to need depending on how much skin is exposed. Sadly, it’s a summertime activity so stock up when the sun is high while you can!
- Store multivitamins – a last resort (or is it the first resort?) is to keep a few bottles of multivitamins on hand. I don’t know if they’re all they’re cracked up to be but I’d rather be safe than sorry when it comes to vitamin and minearl deficiencies.
- Raise livestock – it’s not yet for me but a few goats, chickens, or a cow might come in handy as a renewable food source.
Remember, preparedness isn’t just about staying alive, it’s about thriving. Take the steps now to do so.