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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

One-A-Days are Two Short : Vitamin Misinformation Abounds

May 02, 2012 12:53PM ● By Dian Freeman, M.A. Certified in Clinical Nutrition

 

Overwhelming food and supplement misinformation has been on the rise for a number of years, leading to significant public confusion about what is safe, and what isn’t. The number of pharmaceutical and chemical companies that have entered the “health” field by producing vitamins and so-called natural foods has also increased, which only adds to the confusion. It is important for consumers to be aware and turn to authorities like a nutritionist for help in distinguishing fact from fiction and making healthy choices.

With the advent of recent trade agreements, much of our produce is grown in countries with no control over the pesticides and fertilizers used on the foods shipped to the U. S. The recent recall of all U.S. orange juice due to chemical contamination of oranges grown in Brazil was an eye opener to many consumers. American orange juice products were also recalled because, even though advertised as 100 percent American grown, they were laced with the cheaper oranges from Brazil. The chemicals used to grow the Brazilian oranges are legal to use in that country.

Even if truly grown in America, produce is suspect as to its safety and quality today. There is an ongoing battle between safe food advocates and grocery store chains. These chains are being asked to discontinue carrying products allowed by law to be called “natural,” when in reality they are grown using genetically engineered (GE) seeds. The FDA has disallowed all labeling of foods grown using GE seeds stating that if people knew which food was genetically engineered they would not purchase it. Therefore, it is difficult for consumers to know the safety and quality of our food even when grown in this country. The resulting lack of quality has taken its toll on the collective health of the nation’s populace.

In 2007, the Associated Press, using statistics from the US Census Bureau, informed us that, “For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.”

The damage to our food’s nutritional quality in the way it is prepared and shipped is also of concern. Each level of harvesting, packaging and shipping degrades nutrition farther. Buying organic is helpful when bought local, but if the product is shipped from across the country it loses varying degrees of nutritional quality. Consumers also destroy nutrients in the storage, processing, over cooking, and poor selection of nutritional foods. There is no doubt that it is hard to be nutritionally sound in America through food alone.

Thus, it’s no surprise that Americans have wisely turned to nutritional supplementation. However, it is crucial to be properly informed. The biggest bit of misinformation advertised is that all we need to be healthy is a one-a-day multi-vitamin.

Logically, all the nutrients we need for the day cannot be received in one pill. Our body requires food (nutrients) all day long to function well. A vitamin pill that would contain all the nutrients we need in a day would be too large to swallow. Plus, the body metabolizes what nutrition it needs then discards unused nutrients every few hours. It then requires more to be sent through the body’s systems later. We do not store our vital nutrients—we must receive them throughout the day.

Not everyone needs supplementation—only those who have signs of malnutrition such as those with depression; arthritis; fatigue; weight and hormone imbalance; memory problems; bowel/digestive, skin, sight/hearing and sleep disorders; as well as those with disease of any kind. However, even healthy people benefit from a basic supplemental package. This would include a multivitamin taken three to four times a day with meals, plus a B-complex vitamin taken three times daily with meals. B vitamins are necessary for nervous system and heart health and are used up in the body by stress.

Vitamin C is so vital that whole books are written on it. Included as a virtue is its role in building collagen, a tissue required to halt sagging, bagging and wrinkles.

However, if a person can take only one supplement, it should be Omega 3 in the form of fish, krill or flax seed oil. This supplement contains nutrients vital for brain, heart and weight management, among its many other functions. Most people are also in dire need of Vitamin D3.  If everyone who needed Vitamin B-complex, D3 and Omega 3 were taking sufficient amounts, anti-depressants and other mind-altering drugs, as well as most heart problems, would become obsolete.

Be sure to purchase all supplements from reputable sources and not at cut-rate suppliers or drug stores. By taking quality nutritional supplements throughout the day we can again become as nourished as our ancestors were through the food found in their day.

Dian Freeman has a private nutritional consultation practice in Morristown, NJ and is currently working on her doctorate at Drew University. A health freedom advocate, Freeman teaches a nutritional certification course, practices Ondamed biofeedback, and holds seminar and lectures. Contact her at 973-267-4816 or visit WellnessSimplified.com. 

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