Vitamins Not Worth the Hype

Were we meant to swallow those horse-sized multi-vitamins for our health? Consider this: a recent article in Readers Digest, “Vitamin Truths & Lies” by Christie Ashwanden, claims that taking a daily multi-vitamin may be a waste of money, and perhaps, a risk to our health.

So yes, my friends—file:///S:/Groups/Newspaper/April/for%20posting/Posted/Editorial_Duncan_Movies.docthe years of ingesting those dreaded, chalky Flintstone’s chewables when we were children may have been in vain.

Recently, I saw a commercial on TV advertising a product called “Vitamin Greens To Go,” which basically resembles one of those “Crystal Light To Go” packets people pour into their water bottles. In the commercial, there is an image of the “Vitamin Greens To Go” packet next to a bunch of vegetables exploding out of a disproportionably small bowl. Beneath the image was this statement: “Your plane leaves in two minutes. Take your pick.”

What they forgot to mention in the commercial is that when poured into a water bottle, “Vitamin Greens To Go” resembles an unrecognizable puke-green substance that bubbles as you drink it—but, hey, you will still get your 5 servings of vegetables for the day!

Honestly, I would rather shovel down the exploding bowl of salad and risk the embarrassment of having salad dressing all over my face.

I have come to realize that we live in a world where average people are popping pills for convenience instead of taking in their vitamins as part of a healthy diet.

Take my sister, for example. As someone who sings for a living, Carly is in constant fear of catching a cold and being unable to sing. So, to combat possible infection, she keeps Vitamin C tablets in her purse and pops one in her mouth every hour.

Aschwanden revisited a study conducted in 2007, involving 11,000 people. In the study, researchers concluded that Vitamin C only reduced colds by 2 to 4 days, which is usually too small to notice. So, even if someone were to constantly take Vitamin C, they would still get a cold–just for fewer days (Which begs the question, is buying a thirty-six dollar bottle of “orange flavored tablets” worth it, Carly?)

Somehow, we have come to believe that if we take a multivitamin in the morning, we can make up for a nutritionally deficient diet. Here is the basic truth: a poor diet supplemented with vitamins is still a poor diet.

According to Michael Pollan’s most recent book Food Rules, whole foods remain as your best source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. “Be the kind of person who takes supplements, but then, don’t take any,” he advises.

Pollan believes that if people have a healthy mindset and eat a balanced diet, they will avoid most, if not all medical problems caused by nutritional deficiencies.

In addition to Pollan’s observation, Aschwanden notes that there has been no evidence that proves people who take supplements are any healthier than those who don’t.

That being said, I would check with my doctor before ending your supplementation. Vegetarians and vegans, for example, can sometimes miss out on key vitamins.

To ensure their nutritional needs are met, vegetarians should supplement their diets with the appropriate amounts of iron, Vitamin D, and calcium.

Nutritionally, the vitamins and minerals from supplements are not as whole as if they were eaten through food, but it helps to have the dietetic insurance to backup an otherwise healthy diet.

Supplements should serve the purpose for which they were made: to balance a diet and make it whole. All you need to do is analyze those areas of your diet which need supplementation, and target those areas. Otherwise, avoid multi-vitamins; your wallet, and possibly your body, will thank you.

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