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In an effort to support a poor diet or “get healthy”, a lot of people will start taking a multivitamin. Others question this with, “do I really need multivitamins?” After all, we get vitamins and nutrients in our food. It’s a good question to ask and the answer is going to depend on your diet and several other factors like your individual genetics and your current health state.
Even if you always have an excellent diet rich in fruits and veggies, you would still end up low on certain vitamins and nutrients. This is because our food is becoming more and more depleted of vitamins and minerals so we are getting less out of them. With that in mind the majority of American’s and others around the globe, may benefit significantly from a multivitamin. However it is not necessary for everyone as we will discuss below. So what kind of diet would one have to eat in order to get sufficient vitamins and mineral levels?
We all know that fruits and veggies are the staple of a healthy diet, but have you ever tried to eat 12 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? If you have you know that it is a significant amount but not impossible. It is far different then the standard American diet of pizza, fries, and burgers that the average person consumes. The burger and fries will not give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to work at its best. There just isn’t enough vitamins in those foods. If you want your body to run at its best you will need to eat at least 8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily but probably more. Lean meats can also support this need too. However too many of meats can be counter productive and certainly devoid of phytonutrients that are important to neutralizing oxidative stress. So 8 or more servings of fruits and veggies with some lean meat and fish is a good start to ensure you are getting the vitamins and minerals needed.
Some of you may be thinking, can I skip the healthy diet and just take a multivitamin? Bad idea if you truly care about your health and want to be healthy. The one fact that always holds true for longevity and prevention of almost every health condition we know of, is those that eat 8 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily will outlive those that do not.
So what constitutes a serving of fruits and vegetables anyway? That’s a great question and the next topic.
The USDA sets the serving size for fruits and veggies at about 1/2 cup. However leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and chard are more like one cup. It is also important to note that a typical apple or orange is only 1 serving verses two, unless they are really big. This takes into account the core of the apple and other non-edible parts. So a typical day with 8 -12 servings might look like this.
The above daily scenario does not take into account protein sources such as chicken, turkey, or fish etc. If you eat this way from an organic food sources most days of the week you will likely not need a multivitamin. However it is important to note that the soil that our fruits and veggies are growing in are not as rich in vitamins and minerals as it was 10-20 years ago. The soil depletion makes it important to get your fruits and veggies from organic sources when possible. A few research studies have shown that organic foods have more nutrients and vitamins than their non-organic counterparts. The main reason to eat organic is to avoid the pesticides and insecticides, however. This is an important factor too because the pesticides and other chemicals on non-organic food gives your body an extra burden and increased need for certain vitamins.
If you follow the above recommendations, you likely will not need a multivitamin to maintain holistic health. If you have a specific health condition, you may require higher amounts of a particular vitamin, mineral, or nutrient.