Saturday, March 24, 2012

Do we need multi-vitamins? Pink Slime update

If you're currently taking or considering taking a multivitamin with a recommended serving size of only one pill a day, you're pretty much wasting your time.


It's very doubtful that any single pill can pack enough vitamins and minerals to truly make any real difference in complementing your healthy diet.

Producers of multivitamins have come up with some pretty amazing ways to compress natural nutrients, but not to this extreme… not down to where a single tablet provides you the vitamin and mineral levels you need.

A few weeks ago I wrote that whole fruit is superior to juice because many of the beneficial nutrients are stripped out.  Even when juices are fortified with nutrients like calcium they often are synthetically produced and don’t occur in optimal ratios for assimilation and absorption essentially making them unavailable for use by your body.

Similarly vitamin and mineral supplements are often synthetically produced.  These nutrients are also produced in isolation then they are just thrown together with little regard for their synergistic relationship with other nutrients as they are found naturally in whole food sources.  Certain amounts and types of nutrients need to be carefully measured to avoid any potential toxic buildup once they are consumed.

The bottom line... not all nutrients in certain amounts work all that well together. In fact, a sort of competition can occur between some nutrients.

You see isolated vitamins are partial vitamins, combined with other chemicals. They're a low-end alternative to whole, real complete food.

When you remove a part from the whole, you get 'Synthetic,' 'Isolated,' or 'Fractionated' pieces of the whole, but it's simply not the same.

There are four problems with synthetic vitamins…

1.     Nature intended for you to consume food in WHOLE form because all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes are together in one package. They work synergistically to give your body the nutrition it requires for optimal health.

2.     Your body only absorbs a small percentage of an isolate form of vitamins and minerals - and it utilizes even less. You get the best bioavailability in whole food form.

3.     Synthetic vitamins often give you massive quantities of some nutrients (usually the most inexpensive ones) and insufficient quantities of others, not balance.

4.     You can experience side effects of synthetic isolates from the additives and the unnatural state of the synthetic supplement.

Remember that nutritional supplements complement the food you eat. They do not take the place of a healthful diet of unprocessed (preferably local and organic) foods, which I believe is still the best option for you to achieve optimal nutrition.

However, accessing and eating high quality foods regularly may be a personal challenge for you and your family. Your busy schedule may lead you to cook healthy whole food less than you know you should -- and eat "fast food" more.

Even if you do well with your diet choices, another factor involves the actual food supply itself.  Modern conventional farming methods deplete the soil of nutrients... nutrients that must be absorbed by plants in order to be passed on to you.  If the soil lacks nutrients so does the food and we eat food to get our nutrients.

This is when a supplement can fill in the gaps.  But it’s critical you know what to look for in a multi-vitamin.

·      Must AVOID additives or synthetic nutrients -- Only consider natural and whole food-based multivitamins.

·      Must be produced by a highly reputable company with the highest quality control manufacturing practices in place -- Focus on quality as a higher priority than quantity.

·      Must go beyond RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) and RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) guidelines -- In my opinion, RDA/RDI amounts define the lower limits of daily nutrient intake. You want the best nutrient formula to promote your optimal nutrition.

·      Must include the added bonus of essential minerals -- Minerals add their unique layer of nutritional support. Many high-potency multivitamins with rich vitamin concentrations lack important minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium.

But it's also vitally important to know when to take your multivitamin. You should take your multi-vitamins first thing in the morning and with lunch, or with an early dinner to help optimize your nutrient absorption, the better chance you'll have of truly fortifying your diet.

To recap ideally we would attain all of our essential nutrients from whole food sources and that should still be the goal.  Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables (eat a rainbow weekly!) and don’t get caught in a rut by eating the same thing all the time.  If chicken is staple for your family try some grass-fed beef or salmon on occasion.  Eat seasonally to optimize nutrient content of the food.  The farther it has to travel the more nutrients the food will lose.  In fact frozen fruit and vegetables are flash frozen and this helps maintain peak freshness and nutrition.  Grass fed non-homogenized dairy also is an excellent source for naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

And remember that supplement do just that they should only serve to compliment your whole food intake.

Food for thought:

We have always been told take more calcium for stronger bones but consider this:

Taking elemental calcium supplements (with or without vitamin D) in amounts of 500 mg or more may actually increase your relative risk of heart attack by up to 27 percent, and may even increase your risk of stroke.

In order for calcium to do your body good, it must be in a biologically appropriate form and balanced out with vitamins D and K and other important trace minerals, as part of a total nutritional plan.

For more in depth analysis on this topic check out the following link:

Are supplements even necessary? The following study indicates long term use has no impact on quality of life:

Vitamin D is being touted as the next big thing for robust health but the following study indicates too much is not a good thing.  More specifically too much supplemental vitamin D is not a good thing.  Naturally occurring vitamin D acquired through sun exposure is self-regulating; your bodies will only produce what it needs.  The take away point is we likely need to supplement with vitamin D because of the lack of sun exposure during the winter but don’t overdo it.

This study supports my opinion (not mine alone of course) that eating whole foods is far superior to eating nutrients in isolation; there are some things science just can’t quantify!

Pink Slime Update:  The Power of the Consumer

The story of the use of “pink slime” in school lunches is only a few weeks old but the swift and decisive response from consumers forced the hand of the government and food retailers.

After an online petition gathered more than 200,000 signatures seeking to get beef with the filler banned from school lunches, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this month that school districts can opt out of using beef that contains the byproduct, starting next fall when current contracts are up.

The voice of the consumer is also prompting grocery stores throughout Michigan and across the country to dump the ammonia-treated beef byproduct.

Both Kroger Co. and Meijer Inc. said Thursday they will stop purchasing beef with any of the filler, while Hiller's Market said it had never touched the stuff.

"Our customers are saying they don't want it, so we won't use it any more," said Frank Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Grand Rapids-based Meijer chain.

McDonald's says it stopped using beef with the pink slime in August. Wal-Mart and its Sam's Club discount store said it will start offering beef without the additive, while Whole Foods, A&P and Costco said it had never been used in any of their beef.

If you want better quality food for you and your children demand it and remember every time you make a purchase you are voting for nutritious whole foods or processed filler like the pink slime.  *

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition

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