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Do We Really Need To Take Vitamins & Supplements?

March 26, 2011

As a naturopathic physician, my medical education was rooted deeply in understanding how nutrition plays an enormous role in combating disease and achieving optimal health. If you look at the food supply today and read labels, you will see that most foods found in a box, a bag, or a can are refined. When a food is refined, it loses most of its nutrients. A good example is white bread, which is made from processed and bleached wheat flour which is then fortified with a fraction of the 14 or so vitamins that were stripped out during processing.

Even fresh foods can lose nutrients between the moment they are picked to the moment you take a bite. By the time most fresh fruit gets to the store, sits on a shelf, is purchased, sits in the refrigerator, is cooked, and finally eaten, only a fraction of the nutritional value is left to be absorbed.

One would have to eat 8-12 times the typical amount of produce, in some cases, to absorb what much of the farmland foods contained decades ago. While a small percentage of people are able to grow and pick their own food, the rest of the world relies on several days- to several weeks-old, processed, canned, frozen or previously cooked food to try to stay healthy. Just look at the number of Americans who are obese, and suffering from chronic disease, and it’s apparent that the nutritional void is taking a toll.

Everybody needs adequate vitamins to work, grow and develop, which makes those vitamins extremely important. The human body also requires vitamins to ward off disease, boost immune system response and even regulate our mood. Many vitamins help produce energy for the body. People who still feel tired, regardless of making good efforts to eat right, may be taking in inadequate amounts of vitamins. Calcium, which is a mineral, is widely recommended by doctors to help prevent and treat the disease osteoporosis, but many physicians fail to recommend enough vitamin D to take with it to aid in its absorption.

I routinely check patients’ vitamin D levels and find the majority to be low. Many patients tell me that they drink enough vitamin D fortified milk and that they should have plenty of vitamin D in their system. The problem is that most people drink skim or 1-percent milk, which is, essentially, refined, meaning the fat is stripped out as well as all the fat-soluble nutrients including vitamin D.

If you are interested in optimal health, take a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement each day. I would highly suggest you work with a physician who is trained in nutrition and who can test you for various nutrient deficiencies and prescribe the right dosage and combination of vitamins and minerals.

Dr. Frank Aieta is a board-certified and licensed Naturopathic Physician with a private practice in West Hartford, Conn. He specializes in the treatment of disease, using natural therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, spinal manipulation, clinical nutrition, herbal medicine and natural hormone balancing. For more information please visit www.draieta.com.

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