Do pills equal power?

September 1, 2010 9:04:00 AM PDT
When you were younger, mom tossed you a Flintstone vitamin before you ran out the door. But what about now? Do you need to a super-sized serving of supplements just because you're bigger?

John Bellizzi loves hitting the weights. He also loves his supplements. Those pills are a workout staple.

"I take my vitamins. I take my vitamin pack. I take my vitamin D," said Bellizzi.

But does everyone need them?

You might if you're a vegetarian, have food allergies or if you consume less than 1,600 calories per day. Those folks may not be getting enough food or varieties of foods.

Pharmacist Sam Pratt says vitamins boost a poor diet. Sadly, the US government says only 10 percent of Americans eat healthy.

"If we get those things right, then we give the body the opportunity to heal itself," said Pratt.

But mega-dosing on vitamins A, K, E and D can lead to bone and liver damage.

"Zinc is an incredible mineral that a lot of people are deficient in," Pratt said.

Zinc's a good utility vitamin, boosting your vision, your ability to heal - and it helps you fight infections. Foods like lobster, crab and yogurt are all good sources of zinc.

While Bellizzi continues to pump iron and pop pills, you may not need to. The US government says, if you're healthy and eat all four food groups most of the time, you don't need a thing.

Just in case you still think too many vitamins won't hurt you, think about this: an Oregon State Univeristy study showed too much vitamin a can cause brain swelling in some cases. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, too much vitamin D can lead to kidney stones and abnormal heart rhythms.

BACKGROUND: A dietary supplement, also known as a food supplement or nutritional supplement, is a preparation intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients: such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids that may be missing or may not be consumed in sufficient quantity in a person's diet. Some countries define dietary supplements as foods, while others define them as drugs or natural health products. According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the two leading categories of supplements are "general health" and "sports/energy/ weight-loss," both categories grossing over $4 billion, respectively. The United States leads the world in dietary supplement usage, with more than 100 million Americans using vitamin and minerals every day and 37 million using herbal remedies regularly.

SUPPLEMENT MYTH: A growing body of research shows you don't need protein supplementation unless you are a professional-level athlete in intense training or perhaps gravely ill from starvation or a wasting disease, and even then the need would be a case-by-case call. An Oregon State University study showed that too much vitamin A can cause brain swelling in some cases. And according to the Mayo Clinic, too much vitamin D can lead to kidney stones and abnormal heart rhythms. The United States government says if you're healthy and eat all four food groups most of the time you don't need any supplements. In a study published last month in Journal of Nutrition - which surveyed more than 1,000 adults at 50 ordinary commercial gyms - researchers found that nearly half the men were taking dietary supplements, largely protein powders, with no supervision. None needed protein, the researchers concluded. Few people in the United States suffer from lack of protein. The average non-exercising adult only needs about 60 grams a day. People who add powered soy, whey or other protein sources to their diet usually are just adding calories with no impact on muscle growth.

FOOD SOURCE: According to the Journal of Nutrition, replace your supplements with these super foods and you are never going to need another supplement again: pumpkins, walnuts, tomatoes, oranges, green tea, soy, plain yogurt, broccoli, kale, lentils, beans, berries, turkey and certain types of fish. Dietary specialists endorse these foods because they are not processed and they all have high levels of antioxidants, fiber and certain vitamins and minerals. Zinc's also a good utility vitamin that can help boost your vision and your ability to heal while fighting infections. Foods like Lobster, crab and yogurt are all excellent sources of zinc.

? For More Information, Contact:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993
(O) (888)723-3366
consumer@fda.gov


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