Vitamins are a multi-billion dollar industry in America. It is estimated that up to 40% of Americans consume multivitamins and spend over $28 billion dollars a year on supplements. Why the vitamin frenzy?
As society has progressed and diets have changed to become more and more processed, our food sources have become increasingly devoid of nutrients. Many people today regularly subsist on diet staples of white flour, white rice and other ingredients processed beyond recognition. It is no wonder that deficiencies are on the rise, even disguising themselves as various ailments and diseases.
Ironically, there have been several studies done recently showing that not only are supplements ineffective at preventing early death, heart disease, cognitive decline from aging, and cancer, they can actually cause the disease that they were supposed to prevent!
The root of the problem is that supplements are isolated, fractionated components of foods. Our bodies are designed to digest and assimilate necessary nutrients from the natural foods we eat, ideally in their whole and fresh state. Nutrients tend to work together in groups in the body, requiring a perfect balance of each thing. Whole fresh foods contain these nutrients in harmonious ratios, making them the ideal way to keep your body healthy.
When you consume a supplement, it has been separated from its original source, processed and then presented to you in a single artificially derived mega dose form. This causes imbalance within your system, as you have no idea how much your body actually needs, and whether you also have enough of each of the other nutrients that usually work in concert with it.
Some nutrients cannot easily be eliminated by the body if excess is consumed, setting the stage for worse problems.
Additionally, new nutrients are still being discovered all the time, and their relationship with other nutrients are yet to be learned. We just do not know enough about health science yet to simply fix problems with a pill.
The supplement industry is also not regulated by the FDA in the same way as drugs. Playing the vitamin and supplement game could be a dangerous one with many potential wrong moves as you mess with the chemistry in your body.
Certainly, there are nutrient deficiencies that are serious and can cause damage and disease to your body. For example, a vitamin D deficiency creates problems ranging from seizures to rickets, and a severe vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreversible nerve damage and dementia/Alzheimer’s type symptoms. If you do have a deficiency, it may be wise to supplement for a time under the care of a medical doctor as you figure out a better long-term solution.
An apple (or several) a day may really keep the doctor away after all. So the next time you reach for an expensive bottle of vitamins, consider using that money at your local produce store for some fresh, organic fruits and vegetables instead. Your body will thank you for it.