Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do you really need your one-a-day?

With vitamin shops popping up everywhere and stores lining the shelves with different supplement products many people wonder if they need to be purchasing one-a-day vitamins, vitamin C, B vitamins and the like. Magazine and store advertisements lead us to believe that we only get vitamins and minerals from a bottle on the shelf.  While vitamins and supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Two newly published articles indicate there is no clear benefit for healthy individuals to consume vitamin and mineral supplements.  If someone is deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, then supplementing might benefit that person by helping them get back to normal levels in the body.

Consuming foods from all the food groups (whole grains, lean protein, beans/nuts/seeds, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats) should help the average healthy person meet their daily nutritional needs.  For example, just one cup of green beans contains your daily needs of vitamin C, eating fatty fish like salmon or trout a few times a week can help you meet your essential fatty acids requirements, and just 8 oz of milk contains 30% of your total daily calcium needs.

Academy spokesperson Heather Mangieri recommended a few tips to help you get in the vitamins and minerals you need daily:
  • Start each day with a healthy breakfast that includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy for calcium and vitamin D, and vitamin C-rich foods.
  • Replace refined grains with whole grains like whole-grain breads and cereals and brown rice.
  • Pre-washed salad greens and pre-cut vegetables make great quick meals or snacks.
  • Eat fresh, frozen or canned (without added sugar) fruit for snacks and desserts.
  • Include at least two servings of omega-3 rich seafood per week.
  • Don’t forget beans, which are rich in fiber and folate.
So before you race to the nearest vitamin shop or supplement aisle, stop by the produce section and pick up a rainbow of colors of fruits and veggies then follow the perimeter of the grocery store to pick up low-fat dairy, lean meat and eggs. Then take a stroll through the aisles to pick up whole grains, nuts, peanut butter and beans.  Not only will you be consuming the vitamins and minerals you need, but you will also be consuming a variety of nutrient-rich calories that are high in fiber and protein that help you feel full without as much processing and added ingredients.

If you need help piecing together a plan and making sure you are getting the right "ingredients" for your body, reach out to a registered dietitian (RD) in your area.  They are the nutrition experts and the ones who can help you consume the foods you need to help you live a healthy, nutrient-rich life.  Check out to find a registered dietitian in your area.

Amy Goodson is a registered dietitian for the Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Program.

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