Are Vitamins And Health Supplements Good Insurance?

Are you one of the 50% of the population in the United States who takes vitamins and health supplements on a daily basis? Do you really need to? Are they doing you more harm than good? Do you think they are a good form of insurance?

There is never going to be a substitute for fresh and colorful foods on a daily basis. In a perfect world we would all be eating our recommended doses of each and every food group each and every day. Fresh foods contain phytochemicals, micronutrients, fiber, and natural antioxidants that can never be replicated quite the same in a tablet. Interestingly, while it is impossible to consume toxic levels of antioxidants from real foods, this is easily achievable with mega-dose antioxidant supplements.

Sadly, it is estimated that only 25% of Americans achieve the recommended daily dietary requirements. For the other 75%, eating enough fresh fruits, vegetable, dairy, and whole grains can often be a real challenge. (The only food group that Americans as a group do manage to consume to the recommended requirement is the fat group, which most people are guilty of over consuming.)

What should you really be eating daily:

* 3 glasses of milk, or other source of calcium.
* 1 1/2 cups of fresh fruit
* 2 1/2 cups vegetables
* 6 ounces whole grains
* 5 ounces beans, meat, or some other form of protein
* maximum of 5 teaspoons of vegetable oil, such as olive or canola.

Those who could benefit from daily vitamin supplements include:

* Women planning on becoming pregnant in the near future are recommended to take folic acid and pre-natal vitamins. Pregnant and nursing mothers may also need supplements but should check with their health care provider first.
* Those whose diets are lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, calcium, whole grains or protein.
* Those who consume too much alcohol.
* Those who have had some forms of gastric bypass weight loss surgery. (The removal of some parts of the stomach and bowel can reduce the absorption of nutrition from foods.)
* Those who have suffered from major illnesses and operations (check with your doctor first to ensure the supplements will not interact with your other medications.)
* Those who regularly skip meals.
* Those who exercise vigorously on a very regular basis.
* Those people who may exclude whole food groups from their diet, for example vegetarians or vegans.
* Anyone whose doctor says they should do so.


* Supplements should never be used as a substitute for foods.
* Some supplements can interact with other medications including the Pill, anti-depressants, heart medications, and blood thinners, to mention only a few. Be sure to talk to your doctor.
* When it comes to vitamins, bigger is not always better. Beware of mega doses. Research has shown that some vitamins and supplements including Vitamins A and E, selenium, copper, zinc, and iron, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, may actually be harmful in large doses.
* Never exceed the recommended daily allowance per vitamin or mineral.
* Always check the expiry date. If there is no date on the label purchase another brand.
* Be leery of astonishing claims. Vitamins should be used to protect against dietary deficiencies only.
* Store your vitamins in a cool and dry place. Check whether or not they need to be stored in the refrigerator.
* Keep out of reach of children.
* Children should only be ever given vitamins specifically manufactured for children. Adult doses may well be unsuitable and harmful for a little person. Children have dramatically different dietary requirements to adults.
* Remember that in the US vitamin companies are not policed by the FDA, unless claims are made against a product. Yes, you read right, there has to be a complaint before these products are investigated. It can be a great idea to stick with well known and reputable manufacturers.
* If you are unsure, consult your doctor first.


Vitamins should be used as an insurance policy to ensure that essential vitamins and minerals are not lacking from your system. Vitamins and supplements can be beneficial for those who lead hectic lives and skip meals. However, supplements are never going to be better for you than a healthy well balanced diet. Care should be taken to never exceed the recommended daily dose, and at the time of publication, mega dose supplements have found to be harmful.

Do We Really Need Daily Vitamin Supplements?

Those of us who tend to skip meals, or don’t eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables, may benefit from daily vitamin supplements. While no synthetic vitamins are ever going to replace the nutritional value of real whole foods, they can assist in various situations. Fast foods and fast lifestyles often make it near impossible to have the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables daily.

Who can benefit from vitamin supplements?

Those people who suffer from chronic illnesses, have digestive problems, are run down, recovering from major illness or surgery, are heavy alcohol consumers, and pregnant women may all benefit from adding a supplement to their daily diet.

Do you need a vitamin supplement?

* Are you always feeling run down?
* Do you have problems shaking off coughs and colds?
* Do you move from cold to flu to cold with no breaks in between?
* Can’t remember the last time you ate a salad or fresh piece of fruit?
* Don’t eat fresh fruit daily?
* Do you drink a bit too much alcohol?
* Always tired or lethargic?
* Dry skin?
* Pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive?
* Recovering from a major illness or surgery?
* Skip meals regularly?
* Can’t remember the last time you had a home cooked dinner?
* Had gastric surgery for weight loss?
* Do you smoke?

If you have answered “Yes” to any of the above you should probably be considering a nutritional supplement. If you answered “Yes” to more than a couple you may need a check up with your doctor and may possibly want to consider some lifestyle changes.

What to look for in a vitamin supplement.

* Check the expiry date is valid.
* Do not be tempted to purchase “megadose” vitamins. These have been proven to be damaging to your health, particularly taking larger then recommended doses of the antioxidants.
* Look for a well balanced supplement that incorporates all vitamins and minerals, and does not exceed any of the recommended daily allowances (RDA).
* Ladies trying to conceive may prefer specific formulations for pre-pregnancy that contain extra doses of folic acid.
* Children have different dietary requirements to adults and should only be given supplements specifically manufactured for children.


An apple a day may keep the doctor away. Those who have problems consuming an apple daily, or any of those other foods that your parents told you were good for you, may well benefit from a nutritional supplement. Fresh foods will always be best, but failing that, a synthetic vitamin is going to be better for your health than no intake of vitamins at all.

Do Vitamins Really Work Or Are They Just A Waste Of Money?

As with so many things today, we are being made promises about all sorts of products out of a bottle. Thinner, younger, better health, increased energy. The list goes on. However, the question should be asked, do supplements and vitamins really work? Does the average person need to take them?

The average person who eats a sensible, healthy and well balanced diet does not need to take vitamin pills. There is absolutely no substitute for fresh and healthy foods. For some folk with various medical and dietary issues, bottled vitamins may be of some assistance. Read on to see if this is you.

Why is real food better?

Vitamins and minerals are found in whole foods and fruits and vegetables. The exact amounts and unique combinations can never be replicated in a pill. Fresh fruits and vegetables also have several other benefits over vitamin pills:
* naturally occurring antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for fighting aging, repairing cell damage, and mopping up free radicals in the system. Recent research has proven that antioxidant supplements may actually be hazardous to your health when taken in inappropriate amounts. However, there is nothing harmful about consuming a variety of colorful and fresh fruits and vegetables. For more information on antioxidant supplements click here.
* greater variety of nutrition. Fresh fruit does not contain just one vitamin or mineral, but many, along with other essential nutrients. These complex ingredients cannot be found in a vitamin.
* fiber is found in many fruits and vegetables. Fiber is essential for maintaining good bowel health, as well as reducing harmful cholesterol (LDL), and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. High fiber foods will also make you feel fuller for longer. To replicate the fiber benefits found in whole foods and fruits and vegetables, one would have to be consuming several different types of manufactured fiber products daily. For more information on high fiber foods click here

Who really needs vitamin pills?

Vitamins can be of some assistance to those people who have limited dietary intakes or may suffer from any of these conditions:
* pregnant and nursing mothers. Women can also benefit from taking folic acid prior to falling pregnant.
* severe calorie restricted diets. Those who do not eat adequate portions of food will not be able to meet their daily nutritional requirements.
* vegetarians who do not adequately substitute animal products.
* people who have had gastric bypass operations for weight loss suffer from nutritional deficiencies and do need to take a quality vitamin supplement.
* some medical conditions and food allergies can leave those people deficient in specific nutrients. In these instances health professionals should be able to guide you in your requirements.
* people who are living in isolated locations and do not have access to fresh foods.

Precautions when taking vitamins.

If you fall into one of the categories of folk who may benefit from a vitamin supplement bear these points in mind:
* bigger is not necessarily better. Mega-dose vitamins should be avoided. An over supply of vitamins can sometimes be more dangerous than an under supply. Well rounded vitamins that supply a good percentage of recommended daily requirements are best.
* check the expiry date. Many vitamins lose their potency as they age. Purchase those with the longest shelf life. Expired vitamins should not be taken.
* take as directed. Vitamins work best when you follow the instructions as to dosage and whether they should be taken before or after meals.
* do not store vitamins in the bathroom or car. Hot and humid environments will destroy the nutrients rapidly.
* be child smart. Do not leave your vitamins lying around within reach of children.
* look for quality assurance labels. Various countries have differing organizations governing the vitamin industry. In the US, good quality vitamins will be verified by the label USP.


Vitamins can only be of assistance for those who for some reason do not consume, or cannot digest adequately, whole foods, and fresh fruits and vegetables. For the average person who enjoys a healthy well balanced diet of fresh foods, a vitamin supplement should not be necessary.

Are There Any Dangers Or Benefits Of Antioxidants As Supplements?

The many benefits of antioxidants have been well documented over recent years. Antioxidants have been promoted as anti-aging, anti heart disease, repairing cell damage, scavenging up free radicals, fighting off cancers, and preventing many other disorders. We have all been told that consuming antioxidants will make us look younger, feel younger, and increase our longevity.

As a result of this, the promotion and sale of antioxidant supplements have risen dramatically. Until recently, everybody assumed that taking antioxidant supplements would benefit their health. However, recent medical studies have shown that antioxidant supplements, as opposed to natural antioxidants found in foods, may actually be a danger to your health.

While there is no health problems associated with eating naturally found antioxidants in foods, it would appear that exceeding the daily recommended doses of supplemented, or synthetic, Vitamins A and E, and beta carotene can be extremely detrimental to your health. Vitamin C and selenium, which are also considered to be antioxidants do not appear to be detrimental.

These highly regarded US medical authorities have the following to say about synthetic antioxidants:

The Mayo Clinic website: “… There’s no proof that antioxidants in pill form can improve your general health or extend your life. In fact, they can have the opposite effect.”

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not advise antioxidant supplements due to long term safety concerns and insufficient evidence to prove their effectiveness.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends obtaining antioxidants from food sources, and not from synthetic supplements.

Maximum daily recommendations of supplements are 1000mg Vitamin C, 800 micrograms Vitamin A, 540 mg Vitamin E, and 350 micrograms selenium.

However, there is even more ongoing medical research to suggest that consuming antioxidants in their natural form is extremely beneficial for your health. These foods listed below are well known for containing naturally high levels of antioxidants.

* Fruits high in antioxidants include: blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, apples (especially Granny Smith, gala, and red delicious), dates, cherries, peaches, figs, oranges, apricots, pears, mango, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, pineapple, and grapefruit. Dried fruits such as dates, prunes, figs, raisins, apples, and peaches are also rich in antioxidants.

* Vegetables
high in antioxidants are: artichokes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, beetroot, avocado, lettuce, sweet potato, squash, potatoes, brussel sprouts, kale, peppers, spinach, parsley, eggplant, and corn.

* Nuts are a great source of antioxidants: almonds, cashews, macadamia, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachio, and pecans.

* Beans high in antioxidants include: kidney, black-eyed peas, red, black, and pinto.

* Beverages such as tea and green tea are well documented as being rich in antioxidants. Just remember that the minute you add milk the antioxidants are lost. Other drinks include juices such as pink grapefruit, pomegranate, tomato, apple, and cider. The great news is that beer and red wine also contain antioxidants (always remember to drink your alcohol in moderation).

* Other foods including oats, legumes, barley, and sunflower seeds are also great for antioxidants.

Antioxidants can be found in many forms and varieties of foods. Look for fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables for the highest levels of antioxidants. If you are concerned about the health benefits of antioxidant supplements, why not consume antioxidants in their natural form? Fresh quality foods are always going to be better for your health than something out of a bottle which is synthetic and manufactured.

Do You Really Need Natural Vitamin Supplements?

In this day and age of take out meals, and eating on the run, many of us are not eating the freshest and best foods that we should. Will natural vitamin supplements really improve your health?

Take a look in your local grocery store and you will see shelves, and possibly whole aisles, dedicated to vitamins and supplements. Likewise on the Net, there are literally so many choices it becomes confusing. While the world happily swallows mouthfuls of pills and tonics to compensate for their busy lifestyles, stress, and poor eating habits, are they really improving their health?

Most nutritionists will tell you that there is no substitute for a healthy diet rich in fresh foods and antioxidants. However, if you find yourself consistently skipping meals and living on fast foods, then perhaps it is time to consult a nutritionist. An expert on nutrition will be able to evaluate your regular input and pinpoint what you are missing out on.

A good quality vitamin will assist in supplementing the parts of your diet that are lacking. It is always important to read the labels and to only take the recommended dose. Some vitamins and minerals can have toxic side effects when taken in large amounts, or when mixed with other medications. If in doubt, check with your medical practitioner before taking any new supplements.

Many herbal and vitamin tablets and tonics have not been tested by the FDA. This can ultimately mean that the quality of the ingredients can vary greatly from brand to brand, and that the safety of the ingredients has not always been researched and approved. Purchasing your supplements from a reputable and well respected company is probably a safer option.

Research has shown that diets rich in antioxidants provide anti-aging benefits and may protect against some cancers. Antioxidants work by soaking up all the free radicals in your system. Free radicals are the little nasties that help contribute to aging, cell damage, and cancers. Antioxidants are found in fresh fruits and vegetables. The more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it will contain.

The juice of goji berries is now being added to supplements to increase the levels of antioxidants being provided. The manufacturers of these supplements claim that the juice of this berry will provide the highest amount of antioxidant in any herbal supplement.

Natural vitamin supplements can also be useful for those who are unwell, or recovering from illness, where their diet has been compromised, and their intake low. In these instances, supplements can be helpful to help restore vitamin deficiencies. Supplements can also be beneficial for those people who follow diets where major food groups are deliberately deleted. For example, many women who opt not to consume red meat may need iron supplements long term to prevent anemia.

While vitamins and minerals can help address nutritional deficiencies in your diet, the more healthy option is try and achieve better nutrition. Fresh fruits and vegetables are just jam packed with all those goodies that you are purchasing in a jar. Good quality natural vitamin supplements may be beneficial to those suffering from poor health and inadequate nutritional intake. Ultimately, it is always going to be better practice to consume a well balanced and healthy diet incorporating all the major food groups, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.