We're a fast-paced society with little time to fulfill all our daily dietary needs! That is why so many of us turn to multivitamins and supplements to help us keep up with a healthful diet. We pop a pill or turn to health bars and health drinks as a substitute for the real thing. Either we don’t have the time to follow a healthy diet and get all the fruits and vegetables we need, or we just don’t like them!
Some studies find it is better to take a supplement or vitamin pill than to simply eat poorly and hope for the best. Others insist there is just no substitute for the real thing. True, a multivitamin can assist in maintaining health when the alternative is not getting enough nutrients in our foods.
But what is missing in a multivitamin or supplement is the ‘whole’ of the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes that fresh fruits and vegetables offer. The interaction of all the nutrients in fresh foods is especially important. And it is important to note that multivitamins and supplements are processed, which means that the nutritional value of the vitamin or mineral may be ‘cooked out,’ causing the vitamins and minerals in a multivitamin to have little or no use to us nutritionally!
Phytonutrients, for example, cannot be reproduced in a pill and are essential to a healthy system. Vegetable and fruit fiber is also necessary for optimum health and is not easily replicated in pill or drink form. Natural fiber is irreplaceable and found in every fruit and vegetable we consume. Dietary fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of diabetes by removing unhealthy sugar from the body, and helping to keep cholesterol levels in check. All this, unfortunately, cannot be achieved with a pill.
Fruits and veggies are also low in calories for the most part, and this is another added benefit to eating whole fresh produce. Finding a way to include fruits and vegetables in your diet is one way to reduce weight, and reduce the risk of disease.
Vitamin C is another ingredient in so many of our fruits and vegetables that cannot be replicated with a pill. Although some recommend that taking a vitamin C supplement may be useful if you are not meeting your daily requirement, most experts agree that a vitamin C pill is not a substitute for the real thing.
There are so many ways to optimize your diet with the real thing, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices, and legumes. Eating more salads, reaching for a piece of fruit as a healthy snack rather than the health bar or fruit juice, and including more vegetables in your cooked meals are the easiest ways to avoid that supplement. The best way? Make a fresh juice or smoothie!
Best Fresh Foods!
A great source of so many nutrients are green leafy vegetables such as spinach. It also provides a healthy dose of dietary fiber. Spinach also offers a wide range of phytonutrients and enzymes, as well as B-complex compounds, manganese, magnesium, calcium and iron, to name just a few vital nutrients! The health benefits of spinach are fantastic!
Add yogurt to your smoothie for a healthy dose of calcium. Using skim milk also provides vitamin D and calcium.
Apples, citrus fruit, and cabbage are among the best sources of vitamin C and soluble dietary fiber. Also consider including strawberries, kiwi fruit, and other berries for their natural antioxidant content.
Include nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseed for their omega-3 fatty acid content. Flaxseeds are also rich in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium, as well as a great source of fiber and vitamin B1.
Gather the ingredients.
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Add more milk if necessary to thin out the smoothie.
Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.
Blumberg JB, Bailey RL, Sesso HD, Ulrich CM. The Evolving Role of Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Use among Adults in the Age of Personalized Nutrition. Nutrients. 2018;10(2). doi:10.3390/nu10020248
Chen F, Du M, Blumberg JB, et al. Association Among Dietary Supplement Use, Nutrient Intake, and Mortality Among U.S. Adults: A Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. 2019;170(9):604-613. doi:10.7326/M18-2478
American Heart Association. Vitamin supplements: hype or help for healthy eating. Updated February 1, 2014.
US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Banana. Updated April 1, 2019.
US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Spinach. Updated April 1, 2019.