Storing food as well as resources for growing food is one of the cornerstones of prepping. What types of food should you store? Typical recommendations on many prepping and survival blogs include grains, legumes, vegetable oil, flour, canned goods, and freeze-dried meals. I add that you should pay attention to the three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Survival and health depend on getting sufficient quantity and quality of protein, fat, and carbs. Also, you should store the types of foods that you enjoy and usually eat. A healthy AND pleasant meal is a great stress-reducer in difficult times.
Related article: Food Storage for Survival: Carbs, Protein, Fat
However, once you have taken sufficient account of your need for protein, fat, and carbohydrates (the macronutrients), you should also consider the micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. You stored food will undoubtedly contain some micronutrients. In addition, the backyard garden is a good source of micronutrients.
But in a survival situation, it might be difficult to grow enough of a variety of foods to cover all the vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Also, the mineral content of food varies quite a bit, depending on the mineral content of the soil. As for stored food, often the foods that keep well, long-term, have the disadvantage of lower vitamin and mineral content. Refined grains and oils store well, but have a lower vitamin content.
Therefore, I suggest that it would be useful to store some vitamin and mineral supplements as well. But you don’t have to obtain all of your micronutrients from one gigantic hard-to-swallow pill. You might want to get separate supplements, one for vitamins and one for minerals. I don’t have a specific brand or type to recommend to you. But I don’t think we need to over-do the vitamin supplementation. Getting about 100% of the US RDA of is sufficient. A multivitamin need not provide much more than that.
I’d avoid the individual vitamin supplements that provide several hundred percent of the US RDA. You would need too many pills to get all the vitamins needed. However, many vitamin or mineral supplements do not provide iron. So a separate iron supplement might be needed. Refined grains tend to be lower in iron than their whole grain counterparts. But many grain products in the U.S. are enriched with iron (as well as some of the B-vitamins). Even so, be careful to choose a supplement that has sufficient B-12 — that is the one vitamin that you cannot get from plant sources.
I’ve tried a number of different types of vitamin supplements. Currently, I prefer the chewable (gummy) type, as they are easy to consume. Multivitamins tend to be large, especially if the vitamin content is comprehensive. A number of companies make a gummy vitamin for adults as well as ones for children.
Be certain to store any vitamin and mineral supplement securely, away from young children. If you decide to store children’s type chewable vitamins, which taste much like candy, it is particularly important to keep them where young children cannot access them. Overdoses of some vitamins or minerals can be fatal, especially in children.
A general multivitamin would be a useful addition to your stored food supply. The vitamin content of stored foods tends to decrease over time, and this process is accelerated by exposure to oxygen, heat, and light. Keeping foods well-sealed, cool, and out of direct sunlight is important to prevent vitamin loss also.
Antioxidants are not essential, but they are healthful. There are numerous supplements that provide antioxidant activity. Some vitamins are also antioxidants: vitamins A, C, and E. The mineral selenium is an antioxidant, but high doses of selenium can cause serious illnesses. Beta-carotene is pro-vitamin A; your body can turn it into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant. Lutein, and lycopene are examples of antioxidants that are not vitamins or minerals.
A good multivitamin and mineral supplement (any major brand) can make up for any deficiencies in vitamins and minerals that might result from temporary disruptions in the food supply, or a decreased availability of some foods during rationing or famine. It might seem expensive to buy 6 months’ supply of this item, but it is a low cost-per-day, and in my opinion it is well worth the money.