Americans aren’t showing any signs of slowing down when it comes to buying supplements. In fact, sales projections from 2017 show that we’ll have spent $36.1 billion on multivitamins this year alone. At the same time, we’re also becoming more aware of the nutrients in the foods we eat. With this information in mind, what do we need to be eating and how much is needed to replace the supplements we buy most often? Read on to discover more about supplements, your diet, and what you really need to be eating on a regular basis.
Which kind of supplements are Americans buying most?
Multivitamins, followed by vitamins D and C, calcium, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids are Americans’ favorites, but most vitamins being purchased are synthetic, which means they can have damaging effects to your health, as they are known to contain fillers and even trace amounts of heavy metals. Fortunately, organic supplements and vitamins are an option that’s both safe and—now more than ever before—readily available.
The Benefits of Taking Organic Vitamins
Organic vitamins are derived from natural food sources and made under strict conditions free of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. But organic vitamins aren’t a substitute for food, and it’s still recommended that you try to get the majority of your nutrients from an original food source. So why supplement at all? Well, despite our best efforts to eat a healthy diet (which is challenging enough all by itself) there are factors such as soil depletion that can have a negative effect on fruits, vegetables, grains, and pulses—warranting the incorporation of organic supplements and vitamins into even the most health-conscious diets.
A Note on Soil Depletion
A recent article published in Scientific American makes note of the fact that soil depletion in the United States has had a negative effect on the nutritional content of produce. It is hypothesized that this phenomenon is due largely to the fact that crops are now being grown for their superficial traits such as appearance instead of their nutritional qualities. While opting for locally grown organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible is encouraged—and any kind of produce is still the best source for many nutrients and phytochemicals—the following vitamins and supplements may well deserve a place in your ongoing nutrition plan.
On average, women require at least 600 IU of vitamin D on a daily basis. While it’s virtually impossible to meet this goal solely through food intake, spending up to 20 minutes in direct sunlight without sunscreen (the darker your skin the more exposure is needed—the lighter, the less) may help you meet your daily vitamin D requirements. However, people living in northern climates with little sunlight during the winter months—and those with certain other medical conditions—should definitely consider taking vitamin D supplements. Recommended: NatureWise Vitamin D3 IU
Although this nutrient hasn’t been proven to cure the common cold, vitamin C has far-reaching health benefits, which include protection against heart disease, eye disease, and even prenatal health issues. It’s relatively easy to meet the 75 mg recommended daily intake for vitamin C with healthy produce choices. One large yellow bell pepper contains 569 percent of your recommended daily intake, one cup of guava contains 628 percent, and just one kiwi fruit contains 107 percent of the vitamin C you need. Recommended: Pure Synergy Radiance C 100%
If your diet is plant based, there’s a good chance you might need to take a vitamin B12 supplement to meet the recommended daily intake of 2.4 micrograms. This nutrient is mainly found in animal products such as beef liver, fish, and eggs, and you’d need to eat at least 2.5 ounces of ground beef, 2 cups of skim milk, or a small portion of organ meat every day to ingest the B12 you need. Considering that B12 plays an important role in protecting your heart, building strong bones, and improving mood and memory, supplementation might be right for you. Recommended: Garden of Life B12
Calcium is especially important for women, as it can help to prevent osteoporosis. Doctors recommend aiming for 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Calcium is most commonly associated with dairy products, with 8 ounce servings of milk and yogurt providing around a third of your daily needs. There are still many non-dairy foods that are rich in calcium as well, including salmon, kale, and oranges, although these sources need to be consumed regularly (and often) if they’re going to be your primary calcium sources. Recommended: Garden of Life myKind Organic Plant Calcium
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s have been shown to have numerous health benefits, from lowering triglyceride (aka blood fat) levels to potentially helping manage the symptoms of depression. Omega-3s are commonly associated with oily fish, but they’re also found in walnuts, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables. Aim to consume 500 mg of omega-3s per day; 3.5 ounces of salmon or seven walnuts will provide more than five times your recommended daily value. Omega-3s can also be taken in supplement form or as liquid fish oil and are generally sourced from flaxseed and oily fish such as sardines and anchovies. Recommended: Viva Naturals Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement