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.

Conclusion.

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.

The Many Benefits Of High Fiber Foods Can Include Weight Loss

There are many health giving benefits of high fiber foods. Your parents were right when they told you to eat your veges. Having a daily diet rich in high fiber foods is an easy way to assist with bowel health, reduce bad cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels, and help manage weight.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a dietary product derived from plant sources. These plant products are not broken down in the digestive process. As a result of this, the bulk, or fiber, passes through the stomach and intestines relatively unchanged. Fiber is not absorbed by the body. There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
* soluble fibers are those which will break down in water and include psyllium, oats, apples, carrots, peas, citrus fruits, and barley. Soluble fibers will form a gel like substance and are valuable for reducing the bad blood cholesterol and lowering glucose levels.
* insoluble fibers, as the name would suggest, do not break down when in contact with water. Nuts, vegetables, whole wheat, and wheat bran are excellent sources of insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is important for maintaining food bulk as it passes through the bowel, and will aid those who suffer from conditions such as constipation and hemorrhoids.

What are good sources of high fiber foods?

It is important to consume both soluble and insoluble fiber on a daily basis. It is an excellent idea to vary your fiber sources to maintain a healthy and well balanced diet. Refined foods such as white flours and rices have a lot of their fiber removed in the processing. Peeling edible skins from fruit and vegetables will also reduce the fiber count of those foods. Legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits will all provide varying amounts of fiber.

These are some of the higher fiber content foods:
* beans such as kidney, lima, black beans, and baked beans.
* lentils.
* vegetables such as peas, broccoli, green beans, artichoke, turnips, and corn.
* fruits such as pears, raspberries, apples, figs, blueberries, peaches, oranges, strawberries, and apricots.
* nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios.
* others such as oats, wholemeal flours and pastas, wholemeal bread, and popcorn.

How much fiber should you eat?

As a rough estimate, men under 50 should consume 38 grams daily, while men over 50 need 30 grams. Women under the age of 50 should consume 25 grams daily, and women over 50 need 21 grams. Children’s needs vary greatly depending upon their age.

Health benefits of high fiber diet:

* assists in weight loss. High fiber foods tend to take longer to chew and are more bulky. This aids in filling you up sooner, and leaving you feeling satisfied for longer. High fiber foods tend to have less empty calories and generally make for healthy snacks.
* reduces bad cholesterol. Soluble fibers tend to help absorb the harmful LDL’s.
* prevents constipation. Fiber adds bulk to your food, making passage through the intestine much easier. Be sure to also drink plenty of water.
* assists blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugars in foods through to the bloodstream. This can be particularly helpful for diabetics.
* reduces risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Easy ways to increase your fiber:

* add psyllium husks to breakfast cereals and yogurts.
* bake with wholemeal flours instead of plain flour.
* feed the family wholemeal pastas, and use brown rice instead of white.
* buy breads with fiber added, or the wholemeal varieties.
* leave the skin on your fruit.
* add extra vegetables to your dinner.

Conclusion.

A diet rich in high fiber foods has been proven to reduce the incidence of colon (bowel) disease, reduce bad cholesterol levels, assist with weight management, and stabilise blood sugar levels. For more information on high fiber foods the Mayo clinic has an excellent fiber chart which you can access here Mayo Clinic’s Fiber Chart.