We all want to live healthy and long lives. At least most of us do. From when we were young and growing up our parents would insist that we eat our food especially those fruits and vegetables which contain the micro nutrients that our bodies need in order to stay healthy. Scientists say that a vitamin is an organic molecule or substance that is an essential micro nutrient that our bodies need in small quantities to grow and develop normally. Your body uses vitamins for a variety of biological processes, including growth, digestion, and nerve function. We must ensure for our best health to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables each day, at least 5-9 servings. Even when we try to eat healthily, we still are not able to get all the necessary nutrients we need from our daily diets because of various reasons, hence we should extend our lives with the use of vitamins and supplements.
It is estimated that over a half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health.
The question to ask yourself is whether you need them in the first place and then how safe are they? Will they work?
Importance of Vitamins, Minerals and Botanicals
Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder or liquid form. There are 13 vitamins our bodies need. They are:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
There are many good reasons to consider taking vitamin supplements, such as over-the-counter multivitamins:
- for certain health problems
- if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- if you eat a Standard American Diet
- soil depletion
- water depletion
- low-calorie diets are low nutrient diets
- non-organic foods contain fewer nutrients
- grain-fed meat and cooked/conventional dairy
- toxin exposure
- nutrient absorption declines with age
- if you exercise vigorously
Specific Health Purposes
Each vitamin has specific purposes. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may get health problems. For example, if you don’t get enough vitamin C, you could become anemic. Some vitamins may help prevent medical problems. Vitamin A prevents night blindness.
Evidence does suggest that some supplements can enhance health in different ways. The most popular nutrient supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C and D.Calcium supports bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants—molecules that prevent cell damage and help to maintain health.
Research suggests that fish oil can promote heart health. Of the supplements not derived from vitamins and minerals, Dr. Craig Hopp, an expert in botanical research at National Institutes of Health (NIH) says, “fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use.”
A vegan diet contains only plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits) and foods made from plants. Vegans do not eat foods that come from animals, including dairy products and egg. Even with this diet, supplementing with Vitamin B12 is recommended as this vitamin is not obtained from vegetables. Vitamin B12 keeps nerve and blood cells healthy.
Women, pregnancy, and breastfed infants
Women need iron during pregnancy, and breastfed infants, need vitamin D and Folic acid—400 micrograms daily, whether from supplements or fortified food—is important for all women of childbearing age.
Special Nutrients Lacking in Standard American Diet (SAD)
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, many people consume more calories than they need without taking in the
recommended amounts of a number of nutrients. The Guidelines warn that there are numerous nutrients—including vitamins—for which low dietary intake may be a cause of concern.
The SAD does not promote eating nutrient rich foods like high-quality animal protein and vegetables for the consumers thereby causing epidemic proportion of malnourishment. Nutrient-deficiencies hurt people’s performance, causing DNA damage, making you age faster, and contributing to chronic disease.
Consequence of Poor Farming Methods
Non-organic, pesticide-treated vegetables are lower in cancer-fighting polyphenols than organic ones, leaving the plants incapable of producing cancer-fighting polyphenols which makes us susceptible to many cancers. There is also evidence that glyphosate – RoundUp herbicide – chelates minerals in crops on which it is sprayed.
Sadly, organic farming methods are not always possible due to financial or logistical reasons. Even when you can find organic foods, they aren’t necessarily better.
Scientific evidence shows that grain-fed meat is extremely low in antioxidants, micro nutrients, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins
when compared to grass-fed meat. Grains are not a food for humans or grazing animals. When herbivores are fed grains, they become malnourished, just like humans. Grain-fed meat and farmed seafood can also serve as a carrier for more toxins, which increases nutrient needs.
Pasteurization destroys some of the nutrients in both skim and full-fat milk. Raw, unpasteurized, unprocessed, full-fat dairy can be good for you, but the kind that is available at the grocery store is not good. Conventional dairy is also high in aflatoxin and other mycotoxins that were in the cattle’s feed.
Water /Soil Depletion
The water that we drink is depleted of nutrients and contaminants are present in the fresh water and seas, caused by massive pollution of the environment. The depletion of the soil is as a result of wrong farming principles and improper crop rotation along with exhausting the soil by fungi, bacterias and pollutants.
Cost Effective Supplements
Sometimes supplements are cheaper than real food like Salmon. It may be better for you to supplement with a high-quality fish or krill oil than to settle for a farmed variety. Farmed salmon is low in omega-3s and high in toxins, are higher in parasites and bacteria. Farmed salmon contains 16 times more PCB’s and pesticides than wild salmon. Wild Salmon is often more expensive than grass-fed beef, and presents more of a health risk than benefit. Grass-fed beef has enough omega 3’s by itself but supplementation may be a good idea for some persons.
Buying Vitamins and Supplements
Safety Practices with Dietary Supplements
When it comes to purchasing dietary supplements, we must check the labels to see what substances are included in them., Today’s dietary supplements are not only vitamins and minerals.They sometimes contain other ingredients such as herbs, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes.
Risks of Overdoing It
Check with your health care providers before combining or substituting them with other foods or medicines. Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care providers to determine how best to achieve optimal health. Too much of certain supplements can be harmful.
Before buying a dietary supplement consider the following:
- Do your due diligence before spending your money to get the latest fad supplement in the headline. Sound health advice is generally based on research over time, not a single study advertised by the media.
- Be wary of results claiming a “quick fix” that are not scientifically researched and have established dietary guidance.
- More does not mean better. Some products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts, for a long time, or in combination with other drugs. For example, excessive amounts of water-soluble vitamins, like vitamins C and B, are not used by the body and are eliminated in the urine.”
- Look out for claims. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Examples of false claims on product labels include:
- Quick and effective “cure-all”
- Can treat or cure disease
- about limited availability, offers of “no-risk, money-back guarantees,”
- “Totally safe,” “all natural,” and has “definitely no side effects”
Supplementation: Your answer to Live Longer
If you’re an athlete or doing enough vigorous exercise to substantially deplete energy reserves, you’re also using more nutrients for energy production and recovery. As a result, athletes are at an even higher risk of nutrient deficiencies.
Several studies have shown children need more nutrients to support growth, and older people need more nutrients due to malabsorption. As you age, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzyme production naturally declines, making it difficult for you to break down and absorb nutrients from your foods. As you age, you also often begin taking medications which can interfere with nutrient absorption. This means you need to take more nutrients in the most absorbable form possible.
Aging is a natural process, but it can come with many difficulty and pain. Therefore if there are supplements that can delay this process, why not take them? As long as there isn’t an undue risk of harm, what can you say to justify avoiding supplementing your diet, If supplements can buy you a few more years of quality life, why not take them? Research testify that higher intake of nutrients lead to healthier and longer life.
There is evidence that consuming nutrients from food is more beneficial than supplements, which is why you should focus on a nutrient rich diet first. However to compensate for the lack of nutrient dense food I advocate supplementing the diet with vitamins and nutritional supplements to prolong life and health.
This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. No claim or opinion on these pages is intended to be, nor should be construed as medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet or exercise program. None of these claims have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Suggestions herein are intended for normal healthy adults and should not be used if you are under the age of 18 or have any known medical condition.