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What are some benefits of eating fruits and vegetables that you cannot obtain through vitamin supplements alone?

by Jack Kenefick on June 12, 2012

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fruits and veggiesAbout two thirds of Americans take some sort of multi-vitamin because they believe that they are not getting all the proper nutrients needed through their regular diet. Supplements supply some vitamins and minerals, but they do not provide all of the nutrients necessary for optimal health. Supplements give us only a fraction the 42 nutrients we need every day and they cannot make up for poor eating habits.  Unlike supplements, fruits and vegetables have lots of fiber, which is essential in helping proper digestion and a healthy colon.

Supplements are not needed if a certain variety of foods are eaten regularly.  Consuming more vitamins and minerals than the body needs does not improve physical or mental health. In fact, too much of certain supplants can actually be toxic.  Your body uses most nutrients found naturally in food the same way it does with supplements.  Many supplements out there are advertising that they are time-released, for more sustained energy and health.  However, for the most part, time-released supplements are not absorbed by the body as efficiently than if you were to get those nutrients naturally through food.  If you are to use vitamin supplements, the best form to take them is chewable, so they break down and absorb completely in the body.

The most common types of illness in the United States are chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.  Eating a properly balanced diet that is rich in anti-oxidants naturally will go a long way in preventing much of these avoidable diseases.  Using vitamins to make up for poor eating habits will not prevent these illnesses.  Research from about 10 years ago showed that taking vitamin supplements could possibly hinder the onslaught of many chronic diseases.  However, there has been no concrete proof in the subsequent years that these supplements alone can reduce the likelihood of developing these illnesses.  However, there has been concrete evidence that eating lots of foods rich in anti-oxidants, such as green, leafy vegetables, and fruits can help hinder the formation of these diseases.

Osteoporosis is a common illness of aging women and can be caused by many factors, including estrogen levels, lack of exercise, gender, body weight and size, smoking and simple genetics. The best treatment for aging women with osteoporosis is a combination of a calcium supplement, vitamin D, resistance training exercise and estrogen.  The most common natural source for calcium and vitamin D is in dairy products.  So if you are unable to tolerate dairy or are trying to keep your weight down, then a good calcium and vitamin D supplement is good practice.

So in short, supplements can be helpful in filling in the gaps for our shortcomings with nutrition when we can’t follow a proper diet, but they do not substitute getting those vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants from whole, natural foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables.  So try to get into the habit of shopping more for these types of foods and incorporating them in your daily diet rather than being lazy and trying to fix the deficiency with supplements.

The use of any advice on this website is at your own risk. Please consult us, or any other professional, licensed personal trainer or your health care professional, like your doctor, first to see if the advice is applicable to your specific situation.


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