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Nutrition Basics (Minerals, Vitamins, Healthy Eating)

How valid is the Food Pyramid?

Getting the proper nutrition is critical to our physical and mental well being. With our busy schedules, fast food grows increasingly appealing, but sacrificing your health for convenience is not worth the tradeoff.

Organic Foods | Vitamins | Health Canada Guidelines: | Resources

Organic Foods

Organic foods are those grown without artificial pesticides or hormones. Canada has recently established its National Organic Standard through the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) of Public Works and Government Services Canada, and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). This new standard sets out the production and management practices required to have a product labeled "Certified Organic" in Canada. From this standard, here is the new policy on labeling items "Organic":
  • A Product can only be labelled "organic (biologique), organically grown, organically raised, organically produced, biological, or biodynamic, and/or translation in any language, symbols, alternative spelling, word sets, and phonetic renderings of these words on food labels" if it meets the standards set out.
  • Producers can only use the word "organic" on the display panel at all if at least 95% of the contents were grown according to the standard.
  • For products of 70-95% organic content, they can list that percentage of organic components on the product as follows:
  • a. "Contains X% certified organic ingredients," where the actual (X) percent of ingredients certified organic in accordance with this standard is listed or
  • b. "Contains X% certified organic 'Y'," where the actual (X) percentage of a specified ingredient (Y) constitutes 70% or greater of the ingredients listed as certified organic in accordance with this standard.
  • Products containing less than 70% of ingredient certified organic in accordance with this standard shall have the organic ingredient(s) labelled as organic in the list of ingredients only.

Organic Foods | Vitamins | Health Canada Guidelines: | Resources


We all require a certain amount of the following vitamins every day in order to function at our peak level. The recommended daily levels specify the minimum level for a normal healthy person, and they are broken down by age and gender. Factors such as metabolism and lifestyle influence an individual's daily requirements, but you should keep an eye on the possible side-effects of exceeding the maximum recommended levels. A conversation with your health care professional will help you figure out your target levels.

In the Medical Terms glossary, there is detailed information on the individual vitamins and nutrients, but here, let us talk about them in general.

Vitamins fall into two categories - fat-soluble and water-soluble. Excesses of the water-soluble vitamins pass through your system and are expelled in urine, whereas the fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K) are stored in your system in the fat cells. You need to ensure that you have enough of the water-soluble vitamins every single day, as they are not retained for later use.

Sometimes you can tell that you are not getting enough of a specific nutrient by the physical manifestations, e.g. consistently dry, chapped lips and dry eyes can be a sign of a lack of Riboflavin. On the other hand, you can get too much of a good thing, and megadosing on a particular vitamin can result in unpleasant side-effects. An excess of vitamin A can elicit symptoms of a brain tumour; too much Niacin can actually damage your liver. Certain fad diets emphasize the intake of one item at the expense of others, and you should check with your doctor before undertaking a weight-loss strategy.

Organic Foods | Vitamins | Health Canada Guidelines: | Resources

Health Canada Guidelines:

New Regulations published on January 1, 2003, make nutrition labelling mandatory on most food labels; update requirements for nutrient content claims; and permit, for the first time in Canada, diet-related health claims for foods. Check the packaging for this new, more detailed breakdown of the contents of food items, and be careful to note the amount of food that the breakdown is based on as it relates to the actual quantity of the serving you use (under the heading nutrition facts).

Health Canada has set out a few basic (general) guidelines for the Nutrition intake of Canadians:

  • The Canadian diet should include no more than 30% of energy as fat (33 g/1000 kcal or 39 g/5000 kJ) and no more than 10% as saturated fat (11 g/1000 kcal or 13 g/5000 kJ).
  • The Canadian diet should provide 55% of energy as carbohydrates (138 g/1000 kcal or 165 g/5000 kJ) from a variety of sources.
  • The sodium content of the Canadian diet should be reduced. The Canadian diet should include no more than 5% of total energy as alcohol, or two drinks daily, whichever is less.
  • The Canadian diet should contain no more caffeine than the equivalent of four cups of regular coffee per day.
  • Community water supplies containing less than 1 mg/litre should be fluoridated to that level.

For more specific details, Health Canada refers to the Recommended Nutrient Intakes as set out by the National Academy of Sciences, an independent, American nongovernmental body. The reports set out an Adequate Intake (AI), Median Intakes, and Tolerable Upper Intake Level, broken down by sex.

Those guidleines can be found at the NAS site: http://books.nap.edu/catalog/10490.html and either bought or read online (see link at the left side).

Organic Foods | Vitamins | Health Canada Guidelines: | Resources



  • Health Canada's reference The Healthy Living website.
  • Office of Nutrition Policy The ONPP's mission is to promote the nutritional health and well being of Canadians by collaboratively defining, promoting and implementing evidence-based nutrition policies and standards.
  • Alberta

  • Healthy Alberta Government of Alberta site with information, recipes and a healthy eating checklist.
  • Dial-A-Dietitian BC resource to nutrition, primarily focused on providing telephone support and information, but having a number of guides available online
  • Dietitians of Canada
  • Health Canada's Guide To Nutrition Labeling
  • Organic Consumers Association US - The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) The OCA is a grassroots non-profit public interest organization which deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, corporate accountability, and environmental sustainability.
  • International Vegetarian Union International Organization focused on proming Vegetarianism worldwide
  • Toronto Vegetarian Association Founded in 1945, the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is the largest and second oldest locally-based vegetarian organization in North America.


Please note, some of these books take longer periods to ship than others (up to 7 weeks for some of the less-requested items).

Information on this website is for information purposes only.
Please consult a qualified health practitioner before taking any course of action.
Always check for counter-results before deciding on a course of action.

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