After many years of turning their nose up at the need for a vitamin supplement, the American Medical Association (AMA) has reversed their stance and now recommend that all Americans now take a vitamin supplement or a multi-vitamin. This was spurred on by a study by Dr. Robert Fletcher and Dr. Kathleen Fairfield, who published their study, "Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults: Clinical Application" in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
They state that, “. . . insufficient vitamin intake is apparently a cause of chronic diseases. Recent evidence has shown that suboptimal levels of vitamins, even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. A large proportion of the general population is apparently at increased risk for this reason” (Fairfield et.al, 2002).
Most Americans do not really consume the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. If you did consume these five servings per day, as only 20% profess they do, then you need to wonder if those foods were grown in a nutrient dense soil!
Decades ago, after World War II, farmers began using chemical fertilizers very heavily to increase the yields of their produce. Due to this practice, many commercial farms quit using compost and manure to enrich their soil. Now much of the farm soil has been depleted of much needed micronutrients, which are the minerals that your body needs! The result is . . . although you may even actually be eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, the foods that you purchase at the grocery store are not as nutrient rich as they once were!
The processing and storage of food also takes its toll on the micronutrient quality of your food. You have been told for years that raw, uncooked vegetable are much better for you. That is because many of the micronutrients are lost during the process of cooking. Another example is that of breakfast cereal that is processed, bleached etc. until most of the micronutrients are gone. The manufacturers then try to replace it by fortifying the food again. You well know, however, that whole food supplementation is much more healthy then fortifying foods that have been stripped of their micronutrients!
Of course, the most healthy way to supplement is first, to eat your five servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis but to use a good vitamin and mineral supplement along with this. These supplements must also contain antioxidants.
Did you know that many children in the US are already on their way to a big dose of atherosclerosis? Due to the poor nutritional habits of our children, we may have a longer life expectancy than them, unless things turn around drastically. Many children grew up in the "fast food generation" and the only way that many of them can boast about eating their fruits and vegetables is that they eat two or three servings of fries in a day! That would be considered a vegetable, but you are smart enough to know that it does not count after the high amount of processing and mixing with sugar, salt, and oil and frying that occurs!
Did you know that if you want to lessen your chances of coronary heart disease (CHD) that every serving of fruit and vegetables that you add to your diet in one day, reduces your chance of CHD by 21%?
If you ate a diet low in fat intake (the bad fat, not the good) and high in fruits and vegetables, you could lower you CHD mortality by 76% compared to a person who continues to eat a high fat diet with no substantial fruit and vegetable consumption (Tucker 2005). This is yet another reason to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and to add a vitamin supplement to your daily routine!
Cancer, which claims many lives each year, can be prevented by consuming large amounts of fruits and vegetables. Although, roughly one third of cancers may be hereditary, or you may be prone to a certain type of cancer due to your hereditary factors, it is a fact that another one third of cancers could be prevented with high intakes of fruits and vegetables.
In fact, Goodwin states that, "The risk of cancer associated with low fruit or vegetable consumption may only be exceeded by that of smoking"(1995). So if you think that you are healthy and are not a cancer risk because you don't smoke, you are wrong! This study defined consuming 1.5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day as low, so you can see that it is time to increase that number of servings and to add a vitamin supplement to lessen your chances of cancer!
The third leading cause of death in the US is that of Strokes. Guess what? Yes . . . eat your fruits and vegetables and reduce your risk of stroke by at least 26%! Feldmann, who completed a study in 2001, also recommends that you consume citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables to stave off this disease. Not sure what cruciferous vegetables are? Try cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and bok choy for the best protection against strokes.
So what is the moral of the story? Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day to ward off degenerative diseases! Also, make sure you are taking a very good vitamin supplement or nutricuetical. Also, if you are not sure what to look for in your supplement, refer to This Article regarding Vitamin Supplements or Intelligent Supplementation.
Fairfield, KM. (2002). Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: clinical applications. JAMA, 287(23), Retrieved from http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/287/23/3127 doi: 10.1001/jama.287.23.3127
Tucker, KL. (2005). The Combination of high fruit and vegetable and low saturated fat intakes is more protective against mortality in aging men than is either alone: the baltimore longitudinal study of aging. . Journal of Nutrition, 135(3), 556-61.
Goodwin, JS. (1995). Diet, aging, and cancer. Clinics in geriatric medicine, 11(4)
Feldman, EB. (2001). Fruits and vegetables ad the risk of stroke. Nutrition Reveiews, 24(7)