One-A-Days Are Two Short: Vitamin Misinformation AboundsFeb 29, 2012 12:48PM ● By Dian Freeman, M.A.
As a nutritionist, I spend a great deal of my teaching and consulting time addressing the overwhelming amount of misinformation in the media about food and supplements. Even magazines that traditionally printed helpful health information now bow to their pharmaceutical and chemical advertisers
who have entered the “health” field by producing vitamins and so-called “natural” foods. It’s no wonder so many people are confused about nutritional supplements and the quality of our food in general.
With the advent of recent trade agreements, much of our produce is grown in other countries, so we have no control over the pesticides and fertilizers used on those foods shipped to the United States. Thus, Americans are being poisoned by chemicals whose use is not allowed by American farmers. The recent recall of orange juice in the United States, due to the chemical contamination of oranges grown in Brazil, was an eye-opener for many consumers. American orange-juice products were recalled because, even though advertised as 100% American grown, they were laced with cheaper oranges from Brazil, where the use of chemicals is legal. Other foreign-grown products are similarly contaminated. Will our government be able to recall them all?
We can’t even trust produce grown in America as safe or of high quality. There is an ongoing battle between safe-food advocates and grocery store chains, including Whole Foods Markets, over the use of the term “natural.” These chains are being petitioned to discontinue carrying products allowed by law to be called “natural,” when in reality they are grown using genetically engineered (GE) seeds. The Food & Drug Administration has disallowed all labeling of foods grown using GE seeds, stating that if people knew food was genetically engineered, they would not purchase it. The quality of our food, or lack thereof, has taken its toll on the collective health of Americans.
In 2007, in an article titled “U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span,” the Associated Press, citing statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, said, “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 United States include Japan and most European countries, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.”
But it’s not only the quality of American food that’s questionable; it’s also the way we ship and prepare our food. Each level of harvesting, packaging and shipping further degrades nutrition Buying organic is fine when the produce is local, but if it’s shipped from across the country, its nutritional quality is degraded to varying degrees. Add to that the degradation of nutrients caused by storage, processing, and overcooking, as well as a poor selection of foods by consumers in general, and it’s not hard to see why it’s hard to be nutritionally sound in America through food alone.
So, Americans have wisely turned to nutritional supplementation. As a rule, I distrust pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers of supplements. These companies can spend the most money advertising their “nutritionals” because they make the most money on their cheap products. Their advertising misinforms us that all we need to be healthy is a one-a-day multivitamin. They also make and advertise other groups of imbalanced concoctions for building bones and warding off colds. These are the supplements generally recommended by most pharmacists and physicians because they have been led to trust chemical manufacturers and are rarely educated in nutrition.
In truth, we can’t get all the nutrients we need for a day in just one pill; it would be far too large to swallow! Our body requires food (nutrients) all day long to function well. Since the body metabolizes the nutrients it needs and then discards those it doesn’t need every few hours, it requires more to be sent through the body’s systems. We do not store our vital nutrients—we must receive them throughout the day.
Not all people need supplements, but those who are malnourished, who do not receive adequate nutrition daily, do. Supplements are also beneficial for people with various diseases and ailments, ranging from depression, arthritis, and weight and hormone imbalance to bowel/digestive, sight/hearing and sleep disorders. But even healthy people benefit from a basic supplemental package including a multivitamin taken three to four times a day with meals; a B-complex vitamin, again taken three times a day with meals; Vitamin C, and Vitamin D3..
I think that if a person can take only one supplement, it should be Omega Three in the form of fish, krill or flaxseed oil, taken three to four times a day with meals. This supplement contains nutrients vital for brain, heart and weight management, among many other functions. If everyone who needed Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin D3 and Omega Three were taking sufficient amounts, antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs and most heart problems would become obsolete. As always, all supplements should be purchased from reputable sources and not through cut-rate suppliers or drugstores. By taking quality nutritional supplements throughout the day, we can again become as nourished as our ancestors were through the food that sustained them.
Dian Freeman has a private nutritional consultation practice in Morristown and is currently working on her doctorate at Drew University. A health freedom advocate, Dian teaches a nutritional certification course, practices Ondamed biofeedback, holds seminars, lectures widely and may be reached at 973 267-4816 or by visiting WellnessSimplified.com.