Monday, August 26, 2013

Supplements: Too Much of a Good Thing?

     An aging baby boomer population is helping to stir a health-conscious revolution. Many aging Americans are concerned with preventing disease or health complications, and, consequently, the dietary supplement and vitamin industry is thriving. According to Euromonitor International, “The share of the elderly purchasing vitamins and dietary supplements grew by 10 percent in value size in 2012.”

     However, there has been speculation that multi-vitamin supplements may not be the answer for a clean bill of health. The CDC’s second nutrition report found that less than 10 percent of the population was at risk for nutritional deficiencies in vitamins such as A and D.

Where supplements can go wrong
     According to the MayoClinic, “There are situations where supplements are beneficial to health. But healthy individuals who take supplements as an insurance policy against inadequate nutrition may in fact be increasing their health risks.” What are some of the potential risks?
  • Vitamin E- studies have shown “overdoing it” on the supplement has been linked to increased risk of premature death. 
  • Folic Acid- According to Iowa Women’s Health Study, folic acid may increase risk of premature death by 5.9%. 
  • Vitamin-B6 -the Iowa study suggests large doses can cause nerve damage over time. 
     A lot of the food we eat is packed with vitamins and minerals. When we are conscious of our diet, we may be able to eliminate the need to take a vitamin or supplement.

A diet filled with nutrients 
  • Magnesium- tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, almonds 
  • Vitamin C- citrus fruits, apples 
  • Vitamin A- spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes 
  • Vitamin B6- carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes 
  • Folic Acid- spinach, broccoli, lettuce 
  • Calcium- turnips, collard greens, kale, broccoli 
  • Iron- Peas, dark leafy greens, dried fruit, cooked spinach, olives 
  • Vitamin D- mushrooms 
     According to Euromonitor International, the vitamin and supplement industries are growing. In 2012, eye health supplements rose by eight percent, bone health supplements grew by four percent, and joint health grew by seven percent. But we may not even need to take these supplements if we are informed of the proper foods to incorporate into our diets.

     There are always exceptions. Some people need vitamins in order to have a fully balanced diet. People who are pregnant may need the extra dose of vitamins. Vegans may need to take a vitamin to supplement certain nutrients that they are not receiving because of a lack of meat in their diet.

     When it comes to vitamins, it seems as if Mother Nature knows what is best. The fruits (and vegetables) of her labor help provide us with the appropriate nutrients to live a healthy life. As always, if you are concerned that you aren’t getting enough nutrients, call your primary care physician and make an appointment!

by: Meghan Burket

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