Do you use vitamin supplements to add nourishment to your regular diet? If so, you are not alone. A January 2019 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) revealed that 86 percent of Americans said they take vitamins or supplements.
The same poll showed that “only about a quarter (24 percent) of those taking vitamins or supplements received test results indicating they have a nutritional deficiency.”
Great, you might be thinking, the vitamins worked as indicated by the normal nourishment levels.
But the AOA concluded that the people who didn’t have poor nutritional test scores didn’t need to take vitamins and “are wasting their money on supplements that are unlikely to improve their health and may actually harm it.”
Some supplements reduce the effectiveness of certain medications including warfarin, insulin, and alprazolam (Xanax). One doctor also claimed that “numerous investigations” failed to prove “the alleged benefits” and “in the worst cases, vitamins and supplements can be harmful.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t recognize vitamins and supplements as medicinal:
“Unlike drugs, supplements are not permitted to be marketed for the purpose of treating, diagnosing, preventing, or curing diseases.”
For this reason, the vitamin/supplement industry is largely unregulated. Some products sold don’t contain what they are supposed to or are present in smaller amounts than what was advertised. Always check out the companies providing your dietary supplements.
The FDA also advises that marketers “should not make disease claims about their products such as ‘lowers high cholesterol’ or ‘treats heart disease. Claims like these cannot be legitimately made for dietary supplements.”
In a related story, Reuters Health reported that “Most people don’t need to take vitamins or nutritional supplements because they can get all the nutrients they need by eating a healthy diet.”
While that may be true in a best-of-all-possible world, who among us can say in complete honesty, “I follow a completely healthy diet every day by eating only healthy foods.”
If you can say that and mean it, my hat is off to you.
For the rest of us, vitamins and supplements seem to be doing the job, no thanks to the healthcare industry which makes no profit from healthy people.
All that said, there are some techniques we can all use to get the most out of the vitamins and supplements we consume as a capsule, tablet, liquid or snack bar. One of them is pairing foods that boost each other’s absorption rates and boosting their antioxidant effects.
Science shows that combining certain foods enhances their nutritional value:
- Vitamin D with calcium and magnesium.
Vitamin D helps bring in more calcium from the foods we eat and the supplements taken. The two work together because the active vitamin D form creates a cascading effect that raises the absorption of dietary calcium in the intestines.
Eat foods high in vitamin D (salmon, Crimini mushrooms, fortified milk and dairy products, non-dairy beverages such as soymilk and orange juice, fortified tofu and yogurt, pork chops, tuna, and egg yolks) with foods loaded with calcium (firm tofu, skim milk and other dairy products, spinach, black-eyed peas, okra, trout, acorn squash, clams, collard greens, broccoli, dried figs, and oranges).
- Vitamin C with plant-based iron (folate).
Acids in foods that contain vitamin D (guavas, kiwifruit, bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, papayas, berries, apple cider vinegar, brocolli, tomatoes, kale, and snow peas) make iron easier to digest by breaking it down into a more absorbable form.
Older folks may remember a television ad for a product that could restore “iron-poor blood” that made people tired and listless. Iron deficiency can cause a common type of anemia where the blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. The iron present in the hemoglobin (a molecule in red blood cells) binds oxygen in the lungs as we inhale air and transports the oxygen throughout our bodies.
- Fat-soluble vitamins with fats and oils.
For better absorption of the four vitamins that dissolve in fat rather than water – vitamins A, D, E, and K – take them with foods that contain a small amount of healthful dietary fat (avocado, tofu, Macadamia nuts, salmon, peanut butter, boiled soybeans, flaxseed and olive oils, dark chocolate with at least 85 percent cocoa, cheddar cheese, and eggs).
Try these combos to make good living even better.