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.