One of my favorite episodes of I Love Lucy is when Lucy does a TV commercial for Vitameatavegamin. The health tonic contained vitamins, meat, vegetables, and minerals, and would transform you from tired, run-down, and pooped out, to happy and peppy in no time! Of course, the commercial quickly turns out to be a disaster for Lucy, but it is interesting to know that even 60 years ago, a well-balanced diet was the answer to your health problems.
I can't say it enough- there is no secret to nutrition. The same food groups recommended today were encouraged to your parents and their parents and so on. The layout of the food pyramid may change over time, but the importance of a well-balanced diet is still the main focus in health and nutrition.
However, in pursuit of meeting our daily recommendations, we tend to reach for a bottle instead of a grocery bag. Our desire to supplement our nutrition is apparent in the overwhelming abundance of vitamin options in the pharmacy aisles. Entire aisles are dedicated to vitamins ranging from multi, prenatal, kids, senior citizens, men, women, and seemingly every letter in the alphabet! To top it off, they are incredibly expensive. Are taking vitamin supplements really necessary?
Americans alone spend about 23 billion dollars each year on vitamin and mineral supplements. While I applaud those who are health-conscious enough to take their daily vitamins, I can not help but wonder what the motive is behind the purchase. Did your doctor recommend you take them? Are you deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral? Or, were you persuaded to purchase supplements by a commercial, print ad, or diet book? If following a well-balanced diet, the average person does not need to take supplements. In fact, the additional vitamin consumption can be dangerous. An excess of vitamins, especially fat-soluble vitamins, can be toxic and lead to serious illnesses such as vomiting, swelling of bones, kidney damage, and birth defects. An excess intake of certain minerals can lead to high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea, and cirrhosis of the liver.
Don't get me wrong, vitamins and minerals are essential! They aid the body in metabolizing energy, tissue building, fluid balance, carrying oxygen, and reducing oxidative stress. Some individuals may even require additional vitamins and minerals. For example, women in child-bearing years tend to be deficient in iron, and athletes with rigorous training demands may need to increase their mineral consumption to counter sweat loss. I, in particular am guilty of skipping an important source of nutrition- fish. I do not like the taste of seafood and therefore must get my omega-3 from additional sources. You should try your best to avoid gaps in your diet and get your daily recommendations by enjoying a variety of foods from the five food groups.
Supplements are usually not necessary. They can hurt your health and your wallet. Even with all the talk of disease prevention, a recent study showed that vitamin supplementation did not affect an individual's risk of getting cancer or heart disease. Also, beyond popular belief, extra supplementation does not increase athletic performance.
Stop using supplements to counteract a poor diet. Bottom line-examine your diet, make changes, and get your nutrients from food.
Ready for an awesome workout?! Get outside this holiday weekend and try our "Parking Lot Plyos." This is definitely a workout that will take your training to the MAX!