The poor quality of diet for many people in the U.S. could leave them deficient in several important vitamins and minerals. These molecules are important for everyday health. Calcium helps build strong bones. Iron allows the blood to carry oxygen around the body. Vitamin C and – according to recent studies – vitamin D – both deliver a real boost to the immune system.
It can be difficult to eat a diet balanced enough to include all the essential vitamins and minerals that you need. For this reason, many Americans, including healthy individuals and patients who have malignant mesothelioma or other diseases, turn to dietary supplements.
At Mesothelioma Circle, we realize that supplements can be good for you. However, we also know that these products can be ineffective, or even harmful, if not used properly.
Supplements are becoming more popular
In May 2012, retailer Vitamin Shoppe released the results of a yearly survey showing that 63 percent of consumers in the U.S. regularly took dietary supplements, which was a 3 percent increase from the previous year. Multivitamins were the most popular product, followed by, in descending order, vitamins D, C, calcium, the B-complex, fish oil, iron and CoQ10.
One dietitian commented on the study by saying that the results underscored how concerned Americans were about their health, considering that the responsibilities of work and maintaining a family can make it difficult to consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables.
While this may be true, it is important to remember that dietary supplements are not a panacea, regardless of what manufacturers would want people to think.
Cancer may complicate the issue
Individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma or other malignant diseases may feel that it is especially important to consume enough vitamins and minerals every day. However, you must never forget that these products may interact with any therapeutic regimens that you are currently taking.
For example, experts wrote in Cure Magazine that dietary supplements containing antioxidants may interfere with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Furthermore, you should remember that vitamins and minerals often work in concert, rather than in isolation, with the food that you eat.
“Nutritional supplement research began with epidemiologic diet studies showing statistical associations between nutrients and cancer prevention. Researchers then looked at individual nutrients contained in the good diets. However, selecting a single nutrient from the many in a vegetable, for example, and administering it as a medication, is not a viable follow-up,” two registered dietitians wrote in Cure Magazine. “It is unlikely that a single ingredient by itself produces a benefit. Instead, it is likely that interactions among several, if not all, elements produced the benefits seen in diet studies, but not when studied as an isolated element or two.”
Their bottom line, then, is that no single vitamin or mineral may be as beneficial as manufacturers would claim. Instead, you’re likely better off acquiring these essentials from food.
Know your nutrients
Always discuss your dietary concerns and questions with your medical team. They may help you formulate a great food plan or decide how to pick the best supplements.
The National Institutes of Health divides vitamins into fat soluble (A, D, E and K) and water soluble (C and the B-complex). Furthermore, they distinguish macrominerals that you need in large quantities (calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, chloride and sulfur) from the trace minerals you need in only small amounts (iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc and selenium).
Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Delicious options include dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and dark-colored fruits. Whole grains are also full of B-vitamins.