Researchers have said for years that Americans have the most expensive urine in the world.
Instead of focusing on eating nutrient-dense foods, people have been willing to pay big money to swallow more than a handful of pills on the chance it will make them healthier. More and more studies are revealing that this can actually be harmful to your health.
The National Center for Health Statistics found that 53 percent of American adults used some type of supplement between 2003 and 2006. In 2010 alone, they spent about $28 billion on vitamin and mineral supplements.
What’s the bottom line for all of this spending? We are wasting money on multivitamins and supplements that have no proven benefit and may, in fact, do some harm. Save your money. Instead, focus on the food you eat and the exercise you get. This will be the best way to maintain a healthful lifestyle and a healthful body.
The $28 billion Americans spent on supplements in 2010 averages to $240 per year by people using supplements. Purchases are often based on recommendations by someone with little scientific or medical knowledge. A supplement was never intended to be a food substitute and will never make up for all the nutrients and trace minerals of a varied diet.
Last week, articles in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that numerous studies found no consistent evidence that supplements positively affected healthful individuals. Studies found no physical improvement in cognitive function or verbal memory with or without vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements – particularly antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins – provided no clear benefit in preventing serious heart problems. In fact, vitamin A, beta carotene and vitamin E supplements actually increased risk of premature death and increased incidence of specific diseases, particularly cancers.
There is one specific exception. Women of childbearing age are encouraged to take folic acid supplement to prevent birth defects. The benefits of vitamin D supplementation are still under investigation as we learn more about how vitamin D affects our health.
Nature provides a variety of foods, and basic food has three main benefits that supplements cannot match: There is greater nutrition because of the variety of micronutrients; basic food is less expensive than supplements; and it comes without unnecessary chemical additives. An orange provides vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber, calcium, potassium and trace minerals each with specific jobs to do in the body. A vitamin C tablet contains only the chemically created vitamin C.
Real food also provides essential fibers. Fiber is documented to protect against various cancers, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Real food provides a variety of other protective substances including phytochemicals, antioxidants and electrolytes. The human body is a complex combination of systems that function well if treated well.
In 2014, make your life simpler and healthier. Come back to basics and enjoy quality food. Enjoy the increased flavor and the greater bang for the buck.
Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.