To coin a phrase, "winter is coming," and with it comes the cold and flu season. Since many of us are under the perception we need to up your vitamin consumption during winter months, I think it worth seeing if this is true or not.
The one thing about vitamins and supplements is they also have a fair amount of misinformation around whether they are right for you or even add any value to your health. Vitamin and supplement manufacturers see a tremendous value in them regarding profits!
The most recent article I read was regarding the apparent uselessness of taking vitamin D. One side of science and health says vitamin D is hugely important to your health, especially if you live in northern climates with limited sun exposure. This same group also sees vitamin D as a supporting aspect of your immune system.
On the other side of the vitamin D debate, there are supported studies stating that supplementation of vitamin D is ineffective and even dangerous. There are facts about vitamin D that people should understand. Depending on your genetic make-up and exposure to sunlight, these aspects can and do make a difference on benefits and risks with this vitamin. The media, however, loves to use a one size fits all headline that vitamin D could be harmful, even dangerous. Do your homework when taking any vitamin or supplement.
Not long ago I read another article exulting the need for people over fifty to take a multivitamin. This long-held belief is just not right. Study after study has debunked the idea of older adults needing the various vitamins and minerals more then younger people. By simply eating nutrient-dense foods that include vegetables, fruits, proteins and healthy fats, you can get everything you need from these foods sources.
Over-consumption of such vitamins and minerals can be harmful to older people and interfere with certain medications. Let your food choices drive your health and wellness.
Both articles left me wondering how can so many research studies be so conflicting in their findings? The primary reason is marketing and what has become a 36 billion dollar industry. There is a place for a certain amount of vitamins and supplements that some of us need to boost our health, but it should be a choose wisely approach. Understand your health, your diet, and your body before you dive into a supplement regimen.
We all are having a hard time taking in all this confusing health and wellness information. Let's face it, misinformation or confusing information helps feed the supplement industries agenda. What adds to the confusion is my fellow health writers, columnists and feature writers that jump down the misinformation rabbit hole for the sake of a great headline and some juicey clickbait to drive website traffic.
First and foremost, let's ask the question of should vitamins be taken at all by anyone? The answer is of course, yes, for many reasons. Some people have health concerns that require their doctors to place them on a vitamin supplement. The other key aspect of this is our fast food diet choices. Many of us do not eat correctly, choosing foods that do not deliver essential nutrients.
It's important to understand that if you are eating a well-balanced nutrient-dense diet consisting of whole foods like fresh vegetables and fruits with a calorie intake that is north of 1,500 calories a day, it is likely you do not need to take vitamins.
Many widely accepted studies have proven that people who take vitamins are no healthier than people who eat a very healthy diet. In one study, 180,000 men and women were followed over a period to see if the folks who took the vitamins lived longer and developed fewer incidents of heart disease and cancers than those who did not. The findings came back showing that the people taking vitamins did not live longer or have fewer cases of cancer or heart disease.
Here are a few basics on vitamins. There are a few essential vitamins you must have to retain optimal health. First and foremost are the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K, which tend to be lacking in low fat or no fat diets. These fat-soluble vitamins are essential for good health. With so many people dieting these days, the lack of eating fat can leave us deficient in A, D and K vitamins.
Vitamin A is essential for your immune system and supports eye and skin health. Vitamin D is a critical vitamin and one that you may need if you live in northern winter climates. Vitamin D is essential to our endocrine health, which is the system in our bodies that control hormone production and distribution. Vitamin D is great for our immune system as well. Vitamin K is another essential vitamin that most people do not factor in when building a nutrition plan. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens like kale, so eat your greens. Vitamin K is helpful with supporting bone health and your immune system and it is best to add a little fat like olive oil to your greens to help with absorption. Italian balsamic dressing with your kale anyone?
Then there are the water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B complex group that if taken in excess, will cause many unhealthy and uncomfortable conditions. For that reason, many healthcare providers recommend getting these vitamins from natural sources like fruit, eggs, meats, and poultry.
One last point to cover needs to be about mineral supplements to stay healthy. Minerals are essential to our overall health, and like vitamins, we need to ensure we get enough in our diet to keep us in peak health. Whole foods like organic fresh fruits and vegetables are the most excellent sources of minerals.
These are all critical points to consider when you apply a solid nutrition plan to your lifestyle. Let a healthy diet be the source of your essential nutrients whenever it is possible.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.