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Monday, 21 February 2011

Vitamins, Supplements, and Such

I'll get to the point.

Vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as protein or fatty acids or carb blockers or whatever else is on the shelves these days promising you a completely healthy body with total assurance, is a waste of your money and time.

PLEASE, don't get me wrong -- there are instances when additional supplements of certain vitamins, minerals, and substances IS warranted BUT, in NO WAY, should any pill, powder, or potion replace the value and need for choosing a HEALTHY DIET that yields ALL the necessary vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, proteins, complex carbohydrates, phytochemicals, flavenoids, anti-oxidants, and fibers that your body needs for optimal function.

In fact, study after study shows that many, and most of the above substances, when taken in supplement form, are not as active or, actually, often are INACTIVE, when not consumed from a normal food/dietary source.

Plus, I can't for the life of me, fathom why anyone would go to the trouble of trying to figure out what pill, powder, or potion, to swallow and when, etc. etc. when they could and need to be spending that time, energy, and effort in focusing on making healthier food choices and decisions.

I'm a nutritionist/registered dietitian and I get totally confused when perusing the shelves and calculating what supplements need to be taken and mixed with other supplements and how to complement one or the other with one or the other to make sure they yield 100% of recommended dosages.

It is MUCH easier to just EAT a BALANCED diet and, dare I say, a MUCH more pleasant way to effect in optimizing nutritional status. I'd much rather tuck into a plate of food than line up a barrage of multi-colored pills and/or capsules to gulp down or swallow a cup of green or orange or yellow gunk.

I can't imagine what it must be like for a person who doesn't have a background in nutrition!

I have worked many years in hospitals and with very sick people, who, for one reason or another, could not eat or get their nutritional needs met by eating. It was my job to nourish these people with the use of pills, potions, and powders delivered in exactly the right dosages at exactly certain times to maximize tolerance, absorption, and metabolism. I can only tell you that ALL of these folks would've given their souls to be able to nourish themselves with wonderful, delicious, healthy, blessed fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and poultry, beans and legumes, lovely breads and grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, even cool, clean water!! But, they couldn't!!!

So, when perfectly capable people shun wiser food choices in place of supplements, I just scratch my head in bewilderment.

Granted, many people who are watching their total kcalorie intake need supplemental iron, calcium, and often B-vitamins. A good OTC multivitamin/mineral supplement should take care of these needs.

People who live in northern, dark climates often need vitamin D, calcium,and sometimes vitamin A supplements.

People who are chronic smokers often need folic acid and vitamin C supplements.

Pregnant women need a host of vitamin/mineral supplements, hence special preparations of supplements for pregnant women.

Many people, especially thin, middle-aged women, with a genetic predisposition, need supplemental calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis from occurring or worsening.

But, UNLESS, you have been found to be deficient by a good medical check-up with proper lab work and blood tests revealing a deficiency or symptom or condition from a lack of any vitamin, mineral, trace element, protein, fatty acid, or other nutrient or substance -- save your money and focus on food -- good, balanced, delicious food.

If you are one of the lucky ones who CAN eat, digest, absorb, and excrete food -- please -- GO FOR IT! There may come a day when you actually DO need the supplements in order to survive and revive your health. Hopefully, by eating well now, that day won't ever come!

This is what I truly hope and pray for all of you!

Peace v :)

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