Unlocking Vitality: Achieve Optimal Nutrient Intake for Maximum Health

If you’re interested in optimal nutrition, you probably don’t want to aim for the minimum nutrient intake required to hopefully prevent diseases of deficiency.

Instead, you want to strive for the Optimal Nutrient Intakes that align with greater satiety and vitality to ensure you live a long and vibrant life, right? 

In this article, we’ll showcase the Optimal Nutrient Intakes to empower you to crush your cravings and move beyond merely surviving to thriving.  These are not just arbitrary numbers but reflect the optimal daily allowance required for vibrant health.

Ready to level up your nutrition game? 

Let’s go!

In our nutrient bliss points article, we learned how the minimum recommended nutrient intakes are eerily similar to the bliss point nutrient intakes that align with maximum energy intake.  In contrast, the Optimal Nutrient Intakes are stretch targets, achievable with food, which align with greater satiety and vitality, providing a guide for your optimal daily allowance.

The tables below show our Optimal Nutrient Intakes (ONI) along with the recommended daily intake (Dietary Reference Intake or Adequate Intakes) for the minerals, vitamins, and amino acids (per 2000 calories).

Minerals

mineralDRI or AIONIunits
calcium10001650mg
copper0.92.0mg
iron1825mg
magnesium420420mg
manganese2.35.0mg
phosphorus7001250mg
potassium34005400mg
selenium55200mcg
sodium15005000mg
zinc1120mg

Vitamins & Omega 3

nutrientDRI or AIONIunits
thiamine (B1)1.22.7mg
riboflavin (B2)1.33.1mg
niacin (B3)1655mg
vitamin B55.09mg
vitamin B61.33.6mg
vitamin (B12)2.47.2mcg
choline5501000mg
folate4001200mcg
vitamin A9001000mcg
vitamin C90200mg
vitamin E1515mg
vitamin K1120120mcg
omega 31.65.6g

Protein & Amino Acids

nutrientONIunits
protein40%%
cystine2.1g
histidine4.7g
isoleucine7.7g
leucine13.2g
lysine13.2g
phenylalanine6.9g
methionine4.1g
threonine7.0g
tryptophan1.9g
tyrosine5.7g
valine8.5g

Crush Your Cravings Efficiently with the Optimal Nutrient Intakes

Like a nutrient-seeking missile, your subconscious appetite is constantly working to find the balance of nutrients vs energy from your food. 

At one extreme, foods that contain negligible nutrients taste bland, so we eat less of them (e.g. flour, sugar or fat by itself).  Meanwhile, nutrient-dense foods that pack in more nutrients per calorie have a much stronger taste

nutrient dense foods

Your body knows it doesn’t need much of these foods to get enough of the nutrients it contains.  So, we eat less when our food is packed with more nutrients. 

Smart food manufacturers design products to hit our Bliss Point for sugar, fat and salt, adding just enough to ensure we eat and buy more of their foods.  However, our data analysis has revealed a bliss point for all the essential nutrients.  These Bliss Point nutrient intakes align with maximum calorie intake and are eerily similar to the official minimal nutrient intakes

To help you move beyond the bliss points, the optimal nutrient intakes provide a stretch target for each essential nutrient you can work towards.  The optimal nutrient intakes empower you to satisfy your cravings with less energy. 

The Optimal Nutrient Intakes are not a limit, where more is bad, but rather a point of diminishing returns where you’re wasting your effort getting more of that nutrient.  Setting a stretch target for all the essential nutrients enables you to focus on your remaining priority nutrients and balance your diet at the micronutrient level.

Determining Optimal vs. Recommended Nutrient Intakes

The best way to explain how we determined the Optimal Nutrient Intakes is to start with protein. 

Protein Bliss Point

The chart below shows the relationship between protein % and energy consumed based on 1,041,736 days of data from free-living people

Note the bliss point at 12.5% protein, where we eat the most.  Food with less than 12.5% protein tastes bland, so we will likely eat less and may lose weight, but we’ll also increase our risk of being malnourished and sarcopenic.  We’ll also crave food with more protein and hence eat more until we get the protein we need. 

So, getting the protein you need with less energy is ideal for greater efficiency and increased satiety.  This involves prioritising protein while dialling back energy from fat and carbohydrates. 

Protein Optimal Nutrient Intake

Towards the right of the chart above, you can see that we’ve set the Optimal Nutrient Intake for protein at 40%.  Optimisers who hit the Optimal Nutrient Intake for protein eat 34% fewer calories than those who consume 12.5% protein.  

There’s nothing wrong with eating more than 40% protein, but as the protein distribution chart below shows, it’s difficult to do. 

Once you get 40% of your energy from protein, you’d be better off focusing on your remaining priority minerals and vitamins rather than dialling your protein % even higher. 

Vitamin and Minerals

While protein is the satiety factor, our data analysis shows a similar response for all the essential nutrients. 

For some nutrients (like vitamin B5 and K1, shown in the charts below), the satiety response tapers off at higher intakes, suggesting that our body does not crave any more of that nutrient. 

nutrient vs energy chart for vitamin B6
nutrient vs energy chart for vitamin K1

Supplements and fortified foods that provide very high levels of these nutrients may also not increase satiety further. In these cases, we have set the optimal nutrient intake at the point where the satiety response dissipates. 

For other nutrients, like potassium, where the satiety response keeps going, we have set the optimal nutrient intake at three times the bliss point. 

potassium vs energy nutrient satiety chart

For more details, see:

Importance of Targeting Optimal Nutrient Intakes for Nutritional Excellence

There are several benefits of levelling up to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.

Greater Satiety

Our satiety algorithm, which we use in the Macros Masterclass, guides Optimisers to pack in more nutrients that most people crave. 

However, we’ve also found that people with different dietary approaches have unique satiety factors.  For example, people on a lower-carb or animal-based diet will crave different nutrients than those on a low-fat plant-based diet. 

Targeting the Optimal Nutrient Intakes, as we do in the Micros Masterclass, ensures that you fill all your nutrient gaps and give your body all the nutrients you may be craving.”

Nutritional Safety Factor

While aiming for the optimal levels, it’s important to remember that the recommended daily intake serves as the foundation for most dietary guidelines.

The official nutrient intakes have been set to prevent deficiency in most people most of the time, at least in the short term.  However, if your goal is optimal health, performance and vitality, you probably don’t want to target the minimum.

When I used to design bridges, we’d apply robust safety factors to elements, like the foundations, where we didn’t have a lot of data.  You probably wouldn’t want to drive your truck over a bridge designed to the bare minimum to get by, would you? 

Similarly, targeting the Optimal Nutrient Intakes gives you a larger safety factor to ensure you’re giving your body everything it needs to thrive, not just survive in the short term. This can be considered your optimal daily allowance for essential nutrients.

Copying Successful People

We all like to follow influencers who look how we want to look and perform how we want to. 

The Optimal Nutrient Intakes empower us to quantitatively pinpoint the nutrient intakes that align with greater satiety and eating less for thousands of people. 

This insight allows us to skip the dietary dogma and confusion and eat in a way that allows us to get the amount of essential nutrients that align with greater satiety, regardless of your dietary preference.

Nutrient Triage Theory 

Professor Bruce Ames’ Triage Theory of nutrition and longevity has been at the heart of our vision for Optimising Nutrition from the outset. 

Professor Bruce Ames

Based on extensive research, Ames’ nutrient triage theory states that when our body doesn’t get enough of the micronutrients we require, it can only focus on short-term survival. With limited resources, all the functions required to live a long and vibrant life are put on hold.  

Our bodies divert the limited resources to execute the bare essentials, and the repair processes required to prevent chronic diseases in the long term, like cancer, autoimmunity, and Alzheimer’s, get put ‘on the back burner’. 

By efficiently giving your body the resources it needs to thrive, you are empowered to live a long and vibrant life, where weight loss and looking great are side effects. 

Levelling Up: From Recommended to Optimal Nutrient Intakes

The Optimal Nutrient Intakes are a key component of our Micros Mastercclass.  Once Optimisers can meet the default minimum intakes for most of the nutrients in Cronometer, they are ready to level up their nutrition game and strive towards optimal.  

The screenshots below show how the Optimal Nutrient Intake targets look in Cronometer if you consume 2000 calories per day and target the full-strength Optimal Nutrient Intakes. 

the optimal nutrient intakes in Cronometer

Personalising the Optimal Nutrient Intakes

Many people may find it challenging to consistently meet the recommended daily intake for certain nutrients without proper planning.

It’s important to note that the  Optimal Nutrient Intakes shown in the tables above are nutrients per 2000 calories.  So, unless you’re eating 2000 calories per day, you’ll need to factor them up or down based on your calorie intake.

The other thing to note is that the Optimal Nutrient Intake targets are stretch targets.   In the spirit of incrementally levelling your nutrition, you don’t want to jump from the Cronometer default minimums to the Optimal Nutrient Intakes overnight. 

In our Micros Masterclass, we use a spreadsheet to calculate personalised nutrient targets to help them progressively move towards the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.  

Conclusion: The Transformative Power of Optimal Nutrient Intakes

  • Aiming for Optimal Nutrient Intakes instead of just meeting the recommended nutrient intakes can be a game-changer for those seeking to enhance their health and vitality.
  • By setting these stretch targets, individuals can potentially experience greater satiety, improved nutritional safety margins, and an overall boost in well-being.
  • The Optimal Nutrient Intakes encourage a more nutrient-dense diet tailored to individual caloric needs, which may help manage appetite and weight and support long-term health outcomes.  
  • While the recommended nutrient intakes can serve as a baseline for avoiding deficiencies, the Optimal Nutrient Inakes represent a proactive approach to nutrition that focuses on the thriving of the body and mind.
  • Gradually increasing your nutrient intake towards these optimal levels, beyond the recommended daily intake, can be a transformative step towards a more vibrant and healthier life.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve addressed several common questions that arise when talking about the Optimal Nutrient Intakes vs the recommended (minimum) nutrient intakes. 

How Were the Official Nutrient Intakes Determined?   

The U.S. government established nutrient intake targets in the 1940s to ensure World War II soldiers obtained a minimum amount of each essential micronutrient in their rations to evade diseases associated with deficiency.  In other words, these nutrient targets were to keep soldiers alive.  Shockingly, they haven’t been updated much in the eight decades since.

Signs and Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency  

Nutrient deficiencies can manifest in various ways depending on which essential vitamins or minerals are lacking in one’s diet.  Common signs include fatigue, pale skin, hair loss, and brittle nails.  

Some individuals may experience muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the limbs, poor concentration, and frequent illnesses due to a weakened immune system.  Visual disturbances, delayed wound healing, and mood changes are also indicative. 

What is Optimal Nutrition?   

Optimal nutrition is the balanced intake of essential nutrients that promote overall health and prevent chronic diseases.  It emphasises quality nutrients tailored to individual needs, ensuring the body functions at its peak.

What are the Benefits of Optimal Nutrition?

Optimal nutrition is the foundation for a vibrant and healthy life.  It provides the body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function at its peak.  The benefits of increasing your nutrient density are too numerous to cover in one article, but broadly, they include:

  • increased energy levels,
  • enhanced mental clarity,
  • stronger immune function,
  • reduced risk of chronic diseases,
  • improved mood, and
  • better weight management. 

For more details on the benefits of each nutrient, check out the following articles in our nutrient density series:

Check out Micros Masterclass results and testimonials to see what this looks like in action.

Is There One Optimal Diet?

Eating is highly personal and cultural.  There is no single optimal diet for everyone.  However, we all need nutrients.  The Optimal Nutrient Intakes allows anyone to solve the puzzle of nutrition using the foods available to them in a culturally relevant way that aligns with their beliefs and preferences. 

What Foods Should I Avoid for Optimal Nutrition?  

For optimal nutrition, minimise your intake of processed foods, sugary beverages, foods with added sugars, refined flour, and industrial seed oils. Ultra-processed foods that contain these as primary ingredients tend to be designed to hit your nutrient bliss points and maximise how much you eat and buy of them.  

How Can I Know if I’m Getting Enough Nutrients? 

The best way to determine whether you’re getting enough of the essential micronutrients your body requires is to track your food for a few days in Cronometer.  By comparing your current nutrient intake to the recommended daily intake, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your diet accordingly.

In your daily diary on the web version of Cronometer, scroll down to see your micronutrient dashboard. In the app version, click on Home in the bottom left corner of the screen and then report to see your average nutrient intake for the past week.

Full green bars indicate you’re meeting the minimum (Bliss Point) intake for those nutrients, while shorter grey bars mean you have more work to do on those nutrients. 

Remember, the default targets in Cronometer are usually similar to the Bliss Points, which align with maximum energy intake.  So, to increase your satiety and level your nutrition, you must move towards the Optimal Nutrient Intakes.

What are the Best Sources of Each Nutrient?

We have created several resources to help Optimisers move towards the Optimal Nutrient Intakes. 

How To Get Adequate Protein

If you’re currently getting less than 12.5% protein, you can use our high-protein foods to get more protein per serving and give you the protein your body craves.  

How to Move Towards Optimal Protein Intake

However, if you’re already getting more than 12.5% protein and want to level up your game, check out our protein-rich foods, which provide more protein per calorie to help you increase your protein %. 

Nutrient Dense Foods List

If you’re starting, check out our nutrient-dense food lists to help you pack more essential nutrients into your calorie budget.  

High Nutrient Foods

Once you start zeroing in on specific priority nutrients, you can use our food lists tailored to specific nutrients

For example, let’s say you want more calcium in your diet because you’re currently not exceeding the bliss point (minimum).  In that case, you’ll prioritise foods from the top of the high-calcium food list that provides more calcium per serving.  

Nutrient Rich Foods

However, once you’re getting more than the minimum and want to pack in more calcium per calorie, you could use calcium-rich foods that contain more calcium per calorie.

The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World

Rather than trying to follow an off-the-shelf meal plan, most people have the most long-term success when they evolve their diet into a nutrition-packed masterpiece.  But if you want to see what a week of nutrient-dense eating could look like, download our free Healthiest Meal Plan in the World here

Your NutriBooster Recipes: Power Packs for Your Nutritional Game

But most of us don’t just eat individual foods; we combine them to make meals.  We created our suite of 35 NutriBooster recipe books to help Optimisers with different goals and preferences get the micronutrients they need from tasty recipes.  These are ideal for people who don’t want to track their food and want to know what to eat to get the necessary nutrients.  To kickstart your nutrition game, you can download samples of each book here.  

Starting Your Gamified Nutrition Quest: Free 7-Day Tracking Challenge

If you’re curious and want to see how your personalised nutrition stacks up, we’d love you to take our free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge.   After a few days, Nutrient Optimiser will reveal your nutrient score, identify which foods from your current diet are more and less optimal for you, and provide food and meal suggestions to align closer to your micronutrient goals.  

Micros Masterclass

Once you’re ready to level up your nutrition game, we’d love you to try our Micros Masterclass.  Over four weeks, we’ll show you how to plug the gaps in your diet and gamify your nutrition to take it to the next level.  We’ll show you the ropes of effective meal planning.     

Appendix:  Bliss Point Satiety Charts and Nutrient-Rich Foods

In the Bliss Point article, we included our high-nutrient food infographics to boost your intake of each essential nutrient. 

However, for greater satiety and vitality, moving towards the Optimal Nutrient Intake means working to pack in more of each nutrient per calorie into your limited energy budget. 

Once you reach the minimum nutrient intake, rather than eating more, your focus pivots to increasing the quality of your diet by packing in more of each nutrient per calorie. 

The nutrient-rich infographics below will help you pack in more nutrients your body needs to thrive without exceeding your limited energy budget.  You can find more details for each nutrient and printable food lists in the resources section of our Optimising Nutrition Community.   

Protein

optimal nutrient intake for protein

Minerals

Potassium

optimal nutrient intake for potassium

Sodium

optimal nutrient intake for sodium

Calcium 

optimal nutrient intake for calcium

Iron

optimal nutrient intake for iron

Selenium

optimal nutrient intake for selenium

Copper

optimal nutrient intake for copper
copper rich foods

Magnesium

optimal nutrient intake for magnesium

Zinc

optimal nutrient intake for zinc

Manganese

optimal nutrient intake for manganeses

Vitamins

Vitamin B1

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin B1

Vitamin B2

Niacin (B3)

optimal nutrient intake for niacin

Vitamin B5

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin B5

Vitamin C

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin C

Vitamin E

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin E

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B6

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin B12

Vitamin K1

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin K1

Folate

optimal nutrient intake for folate

Vitamin A

optimal nutrient intake for vitamin A

More

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