What did people take for vitamin supplementation before they discovered how to manufacture pills? Or even before that… How did people live before they discovered vitamins? This begs the next question: do we actually (really) need to take multivitamin supplements?
Scientists tell us we will be alright if we eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. Coupled with that habit, we need to exercise, get adequate rest, and manage stress correctly. Well, forget the stress part; it could be somewhat stressful just thinking about our stressed existence right now. But there is something sinister here…
We are also advised that it is better to use all natural vitamins if we do take them. But they also say the environment is no longer capable of producing foods of the same nutritional quality it used to. How natural are chemical extracts anyway?
So we have depleted ozone and depleted soils. Where did the nutrients in the soil go so suddenly after these many thousands of years? Or, is it because we live in a polluted environment why we need multivitamins?
Is the vitamin supplements craze being over-sold?
Health publications continue to reveal a growing concern among some health professionals over the use of multivitamins supplements. Advertising, ease of manufacture, availability, and increasing concerns by the public regarding health and longevity are just some of the factors that may help to drive the overuse of multivitamin supplements.
An article by Penniston and Tanumihardjo (2003), suggests it might be time to re-examine the practice of prescribing multi-vitamins “to the elderly and other patients whose needs for certain micronutrients are high.”
Another by (Kato, et. al.) cites the “risk of iron overload in middle-aged women.” Almost all multivitamins nowadays have iron. In fact, the more components (the more “multi”), the better the product may be perceived. Also, the greater the percentage of each nutrient compared to the USDA requirement the “better” the product tend to be rated.
However, our bodies can only take so much of those nutrients (taken out of their natural forms.)
Why do we need a 500-mg Vitamin C supplement when 50 mg of the ingredient in an orange would be sufficient? It’s because the phytochemicals in the orange make the 50 mg of the substance assimilated more effectively. But there is no process now that can isolate and extract all the phytochemicals and put them in a pill.
Can your food be your medicine?
I looked up the vitamin content of various plant-based foods. This little search made me realize that if we “eat right,” as in having a balanced diet, we do not need vitamin supplements. Our food can be our medicine if our diet is balanced.
The warnings about iron and other nutrient overload should be taken seriously. A doctor once said that no one ever died from anything called a disease – people die because of some deficiency. Well, it appears that the vitamin supplements craze could bring the other side of the coin to view – death by nutrient overload.
Meltzer H. M., Haugen M., Alexander J., Pedersen J. I. (2004). Vitamin and minerals supplements–required for good health? Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2004 Jun 17;124(12):1646-9.
Kato I., Dnistrian A. M., Schwartz M., Toniolo P., Koenig K., Shore R. E., Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A., Akhmedkhanov A., Riboli E. (2000). Risk of iron overload among middle-aged women. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2000 May;70(3):119-25.
Penniston K. L., Tanumihardjo S. A. (2003). Vitamin A in dietary supplements and fortified foods: too much of a good thing? J. Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Sep;103(9):1185-7.
Bentley writes about lifestyle-related conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases. He advocates the anti-diabetes diet which he describes on his website. You may visit his website and blog using the following URLs: [http://www.anti-diabetes-diet-supplements.com/] and http://choosehealthtoday.blogspot.com