Nutrition 4 you

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2007, 12:00am

Name: Daisy Ho

Age: 17

Breakfast: Bread or instant noodles; milk

Snack: Biscuits; water

Lunch: Rice box from school - either fried pork chop or fried chicken breast with rice and vegetables; water

Snack: Biscuits or a bun

Dinner: Chinese-style meal: usually steamed fish, stir-fried Chinese vegetables, Chinese-style soup, rice; orange, apple or banana

Eating out: Usually only on festival and celebratory days

Lifestyle: Walks to and from school each day - about half an hour a day. During holidays plays badminton or goes jogging with friends

Wynnie says: Daisy has a healthy attitude towards vitamins and minerals: she prefers to meet her daily requirements by eating a variety of foods rather than swallowing a dietary supplement every day.

She's one of a minority though. According to a Euromonitor report in 2004, Hong Kong consumers spent US$92 million on vitamins and dietary supplements in 2003. Nearly half of this amount was spent on multivitamins, and Vitamin C supplements were the most popular.

But interestingly, a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a quarter of American teens who regularly take multivitamin supplements have healthier diets and lifestyles than those who don't.

For example, supplement users were more likely to be physically active and less likely to be overweight or obese.

Although reasons for taking multivitamin supplements weren't collected in the study, conclusions from other research suggest that most healthy individuals take multivitamins as an insurance policy against diseases.

The authors of the American study concluded with a recommendation that 'supplements shouldn't be used as substitutes for healthy dietary patterns and not rely on dietary supplementation for adequate intake'.

Daisy follows this conclusion and has a healthy lifestyle: she tries to get enough sleep, doesn't eat excessively and tries to exercise daily.

Daisy falls slightly short of her daily requirements for fruit and vegetables. She could benefit from including a couple more portions either at breakfast or as a snack when she comes home.

A glass of fruit or tomato juice at breakfast and an apple or other seasonal fruits at break would help her meet her target.

Daisy's lifestyle tips

Drink lots of water - I bring a litre bottle to school every day.

And try to get all your nutrients from food and not via vitamin and mineral supplements.

Wynnie Chan is a British-trained nutritionist. If you've got a question for her or would like to be featured in this column, e-mail