How do we eat healthy? Do we need to take supplements?

A quick and easy guide to a healthy plate is the Pinggang Pinoy developed by the FNRI-DOST.

A quick and easy guide to a healthy plate is the Pinggang Pinoy developed by the FNRI-DOST. The Pinggang Pinoy uses a food plate model to demonstrate the right food proportions on a per meal basis. By just looking at the plate, we will know right away that half of the plate should consists of Glow foods (fruits and vegetables); one-sixth of the plate consists of grow foods (meat, eggs, pultry, fish, beans, legumes); and one-third of the plate consists of go foods (rice, corn , bread, oatmeal, bread and rootcrops). Aside from the proper proportions, this model encourages us to eat from a variety of food from the 3 major food groups in order to increase our chances of acquiring all the essential vitamins and minerals that our body needs to reduce the risk of acute infections and chronic ailments.

Do we need to take supplements?

Having a diverse diet like the Pinggang Pinoy helps to ensures that we are able to obtain the energy, vitamins and minerals that our body needs to function and thrive well everyday. However, this can be difficult to achieve in circumstances where we have children who are picky eaters or when we just don’t have access to healthy food everyday. This is when vitamin supplements may come in to help meet our recommended vitamin and mineral requirements. Two of the most commonly used supplements we encounter are Vitamin C and Zinc . We shall briefly talk about these 2 one by one.

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C is essential for a variety of health processes in the body such as collagen synthesis, bone formation, and iron absorption. Vitamin C also plays a role in strengthening the immune system and may have a modest effect in reducing the duration of the common cold in adults and children. Dietary sources include papaya, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, cantaloupe, and strawberries to meet the recommended dietary allowance of 30 – 70 mg/day. Children who have an unhealthy diet high in saturated fat tend to have low Vitamin C intake. Signs of Vitamin C deficiency include fatigue, body malaise, lethargy, brittle coiled hair, bleeding gums and anemia. Children who may be susceptible to Vitamin C deficiency may benefit from the use of Vitamin C supplements.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a trace element that is essential for strengthening our immune system. It is known to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea, and has been shown to have a positive role on children who are stunted. Protein foods such as meat, poultry, dairy, egg and seafood are good sources of zinc to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 3 mg/day for older infants and toddlers. Children who have a low intake of these types of food may have zinc deficiency which manifests as diarrhea, increased susceptibility to infection, short stature and slow growth. Zinc supplementation may be beneficial for children with low zinc status from a lack of these food sources. Furthermore, zinc supplementation is recommended as part of the treatment of acute diarrhea and in children who are stunted.


  1. Pinggang Pinoy. Retrieved at
  2. Kleinman R, Greer F. Pediatric Nutrition (8th edition). USA: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2020.