Is a nutritional supplement needed if I eat my fruits and veggies? - May 4th, 2011

In an ideal world, we can get all the nutrition we need from the foods we eat.  I think this is how God intended it.   But I also feel that the way we grow and eat foods has shifted away from that original intention.  I could write a NOVEL about this subject.  BUT, since I actually want you to read this blog, I will keep it short and to the point.   So, I am going to answer the question that I posted on my facebook page this week.   If I eat the amount of fruits and vegetables that are recommended on the Food Pyramid, do I need to take a nutritional supplement?

My short and sweet answer is:  Yes.   Our nutrition is lacking, not only because of the choices we make, but also because the foods we eat are dropping in quality because of production/feeding methods.   The BEST source of these necessary micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are in a wide variety of nutrient rich foods.   The nutrient foods are found particularly in plant-based foods such as:  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and even teas.

I have read that only 3-4% of Americans follow all of the Dietary Guideline Allowances (DGA).  That is not very many.  I doubt that even the healthy readers of this blog will successfully get their 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits a day on a regular basis.  I know it is a challenge for me to eat these amounts on a regular basis (You can read more about recommended amounts from  With the obesity epidemic in our country it is obvious that the majority of American’s are meeting and often exceeding their energy requirements (calories), yet so few are getting the right amount of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  What does this tell you about our food choices and the need for supplementation?

You can find many articles about the decreased quality of our foods.  I will not go into great detail here, but in summary:  mass production, along with the types and quality of feed, have affected the quality of our foods.  A veggie grown in your backyard from organic seeds will have a higher quality of nutrients than once mass produced and sent to your local grocery from who knows where.   This is why I love to visit my local farmer’s markets for my produce when possible.  This subject can make up an entirely different blog in the future. 🙂

So, in short, I do feel supplementation is necessary for a healthy lifestyle that prevents disease.  In light of this,  here are few things to keep in mind.

1.  All supplements can have interactions with your current medications.  You need to tell your doctor and pharmacist ALL that you are taking on a regular basis.  The last thing you want is to have a negative reaction from something you are doing to be “healthy.”

2.  Talk to a your doctor and registered dietitian about which micronutrients you might be lacking.  You can get a lab test done on your levels of various vitamins and minerals.  This is the best way to know if you are taking too much or not enough.  Certain levels of supplements can be toxic, which is why there are Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s) and Upper Limits (UL) established.  The RDA’s and UL might be different for you.  Those guidelines are established on the average “healthy” individual.  If you are malnourished, have a specific health condition, or if you are taking medication that alters your nutrient requirements, then your amount of needed supplementation may be different.  Thus, talk to your doctor.

3.  Not all supplementation is what it says it is.  The Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) defines and sets safety/labeling requirements for all dietary supplements.  The labels can have health claims.  These claims along with the nutrient content must be pre-approved by the FDA.  BUT, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that the claims are truthful.   Thus, you will find the disclaimer on supplementation “claims has not been evaluated by the FDA.”  There are some companies out there that do testing on supplements to determine if a products has ALL that it claims.  It is an expensive service and for that reason, most companies don’t pay to have this testing done.  I have chosen to use supplementation from a company called USANA Health Sciences.  Unlike most supplement companies, their products are “laboratory tested, quality guaranteed and they meet USP [United States Pharmacopia] specifications for potency, uniformity, and disintegration.”  You can even visit their manufacturing plant in Utah if desired.

If you want to do more reading on the subject of nutritional supplementation, you can read the  ADA on Nutrient Supplementation.  For more info about USANA Health Sciences supplements, drop me a note!

Wishing you health and wellness!


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