Of the three parts of the grain kernel, the germ, bran and endosperm, the germ is the most nutrient dense. This is the part of the wheat kernel that houses all the nutrients to support plant growth, so by consuming the germ, you'll get the same nutrients into your diet. You might have to find a tolerable dosage for your specific needs, however, as too much wheat germ could be problematic in your system.
Amount to Take
Wheat germ doesn't have an exact daily recommendation. You may need to start out with a small amount, such as 1 tablespoon a day, to prevent any potential problems. Wheat germ can help you meet your fiber needs, which is favorable for regularity, but disruptive for bowel functions, if you don't normally consume fiber. For every 1,000 calories you get from food, you need 14 grams of fiber, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Each tablespoon of wheat germ contains almost 2 grams of fiber. So, if you have a couple of tablespoons at breakfast, lunch and then dinner, that's 6 grams of fiber for the day, solely from wheat germ. If you also consume a lot of fruit, veggies or whole grains, you could have an excessive fiber intake overall.
Taking Too Much
Although wheat germ is highly nutritious, providing B vitamins, protein, healthy fats and several minerals, it is possible to take too much. Large doses of wheat germ are likely to aggravate your intestinal tract, because of the fiber spike in your diet. Stomach cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea could set in after taking lots of high-fiber wheat germ. If you experience any discomfort, try consuming several small portions of wheat germ throughout the day, instead of one large dose.
Start Out Gradually
Start out by stirring a teaspoon of wheat germ into your morning bowl of oats or cereal. At lunch, sprinkle another teaspoon over your salad. As long as you don't have any bowel problems, add another teaspoonful into your evening meal, as well. If your gut starts to rumble, you know you might be taking too much and you need to cut back temporarily, until your body gets used to more fiber. You can always increase your intake, as tolerated.
Wheat germ adds fiber and nutrients to any recipe, but it does contain calories. Just 2 tablespoons, or one-eighth cup, have more than 50 calories. If you have a couple of tablespoons with each meal, that's an additional 150 calories or more by the end of the day. You'll need to account for the calories to help prevent weight gain.
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Wheat Germ, Crude
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- The Dr. Oz. Show: Why You Need Wheat Germ
- NYU Langone Medical Center: High-Fiber Diet
- Harvard Medical School: Listing of Vitamins