2011 was a year of optimum nutrition controversy. There was a worldwide consensus that people need to include more fruits and vegetables in their diet. In Canada, only forty three percent of Canadians, aged twelve and older, manage to eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetable per day. The US saw the Obama administration attempting to tackle school lunch programs, aiming to help children and teens eat better, to reach optimum nutrition. In response, the US congress introduced a spending bill that sought to keep pizza on school lunch menus by deeming it a “vegetable.” This is because the bill allows pizza to qualify as a serving of vegetables since it contains two tablespoons of tomato paste. Evidently, this controversial ruling was widely criticized. Two tablespoons of tomato paste does not contain the nutrients seen in vegetables like broccoli or carrots.
In addition to news about food, 2011 also witnessed some news about supplements and vitamins, which were internationally recognized as necessary to reach complete nutrition requirements. Specifically, calcium supplements were scientifically linked to heart attacks. This is troubling, since calcium supplements are frequently taken by women to protect bones. In the study, women were given calcium and vitamin D supplements to asses risk of hip fracture. Those women who began taking calcium supplements for the study, and who did not take the supplements prior to the study, were at a greater risk of a heart attack. The medical researchers speculate that this is because a sudden change in calcium blood levels can clog arteries and lead to a heart attack. Therefore, instead of reaching for the vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis related fractures, consider trying a prescription drug, such as Estrace.
However, calcium supplements were not the only nutritional supplements to receive a bad reputation. Vitamin E, once thought to guard against prostate cancer, actually slightly increases the risk. The medical study found that prostate cancer rate was 17 percent greater in the group that took vitamin E, which was deemed as statistically significant. There was no increased risk when vitamin E and selenium were taken together. The study suggests that high-dose vitamin supplements may be harmful.
With all the above in mind, venture into the new year with a mindset to optimize nutritional intake, by eating lots of “real” fruits and vegetables, and with a new awareness of some potentially hazardous vitamin supplements. Instead of high-dose vitamins, look for normal dose and reliable vitamins, such as A Day Fruit Essentials Gummy