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Food for thought


By Kulsum Musani

STAFF WRITER

No matter how much turmoil the world is in with its political uprisings and economic troubles, we all need many of the same things, like food.

Doctors continue to stress a balanced diet, and nutritional advances keep us informed on the importance of eating well. Naturally, people start looking for shortcuts when they see that they are not getting proper nutrition through their food and it all leads to one thing: multivitamin supplements. Yet is this medication the way to go?

Most of our food is processed, has large amounts of preservatives and often, comes from uncertain sources. Not only is this unhealthy, but it has also made us more dependent on vitamin supplements. In an article from Colorado State University titled “Food vs. Pills, approximately 68 percent of adults in the United States take a multivitamin supplement each day because they feel that the food they eat does not contain enough nutrients

Factually, there is no harm in taking supplements, but overdosing on vitamins such as vitamin A, C, D and B-6 can cause health issues. Having an excess of one nutrient can lead to nutritional imbalances in the body.  Similarly, eating supplements on top of a balanced diet can lead to an overdose of vitamins. It is better to take supplements when the body lacks vitamins due to health issues or other causes.

Health-wise, it is also better to take in vitamins from natural food rather than from unnatural sources. Researchers with the ATBC Cancer Prevention study data found that eating fruits and vegetables with large amounts of beta carotene such as carrots and sweet potatoes reduced lung cancer risk, while supplements did not.

Eating fruits and vegetables reduce risk of stroke by 28 percent, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; no supplement has been proven to reduce the chances of having a stroke by that much.

This does not mean that we should put down our food and start following a diet that barely has room for any food, but that we should strike a balance with everything.

Vitamin supplements should be taken on an individual basis after consulting with a nutritionist or doctor. Simply going to Walgreens  and picking up some pills can lead to negative effects in the long run, especially if you already have a good amount of that vitamin in your natural diet.

Vitamin supplements are for those who do not have the time or means to get fresh fruit and vegetables, but for the rest of us, it is better to balance our diet instead of depending on the supplements. Put it all in perspective: would you rather pop some 2-Me-3-polyisoprenyl-1,4-naphthoquinone or eat lettuce?