Warning, this is a long one, but I really think it’s worth reading, or maybe printing to read later. Pass this information around so people know the resources and what to look for when purchasing a safe and high quality supplement (if needed).
Question 1: If we eat a balanced diet, do we really need a supplement?
Answer 1: This depends on your definition of “balanced diet”. There is a reason why the food guide pyramid and the US Dietary Recommendations exist, if you follow these recommendations you should get all of the proper nutrients you need. In reality very few people follow these guidelines. You should be getting 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables, at least 3-4 servings of whole grain (one serving equals 16 grams), 2-3 servings of dairy (includes soy drinks and yogurts) and plenty of protein (which is NOT hard to do). If you find it hard to reach this goal, I would suggest a multivitamin. Even I, one of the few Americans who follow the guidelines, used to take a half multivitamin everyday just to assure myself. I knew this wouldn’t be harmful. I take a full multivitamin (generic Flintstone) one now because I am not eating fortified cereals or breads anymore, and because of my malabsorption issues. That being said, another reason you may want to take a multivitamin is if you eat all organic foods. Organic foods are not fortified or enriched, so especially young females may need a supplement for iron and folate.
Question 2: Can you get too much of some vitamins and minerals?
Question 3: I hate veggies and don’t get as many as I should, should I be taking any supplements? Multi, fish, or joint supplement??
Answer 3: Normally I would suggest trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruits, slowly, until you reach the daily recommendation (most people just want an easy fix so they can eat their McDonald’s crap and then be “healthy” by taking a multivitamin) For the person who asked this question I know they just don’t like veggies (and have tried)! I would say a multivitamin is probably a good idea, since it’s clear you will never be reaching the 5-9 servings a day recommendation. Keep in mind, however, research shows that whole foods, rather than supplements, are better absorbed, and they provide a type of “synergy” where the compounds in the foods all work together to provide their benefits, which is much better than just taking a supplement with single nutrients all in one capsule. I don’t recommend fish oil unless you don’t eat any fish, then I would say it wouldn’t hurt to take one. As for a joint supplement, there just isn’t enough research backing up their efficacy!
Question 4: I should REALLLLLY take Beano. mmmm is it expensive?
Question 5: Do you know which vitamin is good to take for leg cramps??? My calves have been so sore and they feel like they are two seconds away from Charlie Horse.
Answer 5: Muscle cramps are caused by dehydration, muscle fatigue, and electrolyte deficits. A specific nutrient is not recommended, but be sure to drink a Gatorade or Powerade if you are working out hard, for more than an hour. You can get the calorie free one (G2) if you want. Another option would be to start eating a banana daily, and just make sure you are getting 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and drinking the correct amount of fluid (take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2). Low blood calcium could also be the cause. Make sure you consume 3 servings of dairy, or at least 1000 mg calcium per day (for those under age 50).
Answer 6: There is really not much information available that goes beyond what Wikepedia says. You will find a lot of different information from people who try to claim that Stevia has been approved, but the truth is it has not. Do I think it’s dangerous? Not really. At least not any more than any other sweetener. But again, when people use too much, it can be dangerous. This is from Wikepedia:
- In the United States, rebaudioside A is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as of December 2008.
- Critics note that the US FDA has not actually permitted the stevia plant itself to be used as a food additive, but only the rebaudioside A extract
- In May 2008, Coke and Cargill announced the availability of Truvia, a consumer brand stevia sweetener containing erythritol and Rebiana, which the FDA permitted as a food additive in December 2008
Studies have not shown Stevia to be 100% safe. Diabetics could have major side effects from Stevia (specifically high doses) due to it’s effect on blood sugar (could dangerously decrease blood sugar).
Question 7: I should probably take some Vitamin D. I work all day in a dark room (no lights or windows!) So maybe this would be something I should look into?
Answer 7: All you need is 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight, twice a week, between 10 am and 3 pm, in order to get enough vitamin D. Working in a dark room really doesn’t mean you can’t get out for 15 minutes and get some sun. If you don’t get even 15 minutes of sun, twice a week, I would probably recommend a supplement (especially during the winter when it’s much more difficult to get sun!). Keep in mind, however, vitamin D is also found in some yogurts, milks, and bony fish.