The Magic Panacea is Not For Sale at GNC

False advertising has lured us into complacency. Feel a cold coming on? OD on vitamin C. Big test coming up? Try some ginkgo for extra brain power. Do you get the feeling that your typical combo meal from McDonalds isn’t meeting all of your nutritional diet needs? Try a multi-vitamin to compensate. It is this mentality that has us trapped and enslaved by the masterminds of the GNCs and Vitamin Shoppes the world over.

Vitamins are considered supplements and are not regulated for safety or effectiveness. Manufacturers are not required to conduct studies to show that their product actually does what the packaging claims. This means that any enterprising individual with a little bit of chutzpah and marketing savvy can create a powder or pill to ‘better your body’. So it should come as no surprise that many items on the shelves of GNC and the like are of questionable source and effectiveness. Not to mention, there aren’t any conclusive studies that demonstrate that daily vitamins are really all that beneficial to adults. As a Flintstones Kid, that may be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, but most vitamin and mineral deficiencies cannot be solved by popping a pill. Assuming that a pill contains exactly what the label suggests, many vitamins and minerals contain other source compounds that inhibit complete absorption by the body. Vitamin supplements simply cannot replace a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.

For most women, a somewhat health diet is usually sufficient to meet all of the body’s vitamin and mineral needs. One exception is that of iron. Iron-deficiency anemia is defined as a reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells in the blood. Anemia is much more common among women than men due to regular menstrual cycles. Fifty-eight percent of young women have some form of iron deficiency and though some physicians may prescribe a daily supplement or birth control with iron-infused placebo pills, the best bet is to make diet changes. Iron supplements are especially difficult for the body to absorb, and regular use of iron supplements can lead to iron toxicity, which can permanently damage the liver.

Dietician recommendations for the iron deficient include:

  • Cook in iron pots. Acidic foods and slow cooking draw out the iron in the cookware, giving an instant supply of iron.
  • Eat more foods rich in iron like beans and dark leafy green vegetables. To increase iron absorption combine iron-rich foods with foods rich in vitamin C (strawberries, tomatoes), vitamin B-12 (dairy products) and vitamin B-2 (egg yolks, whole grains, soybeans).
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements are an expensive fantasy. Just because it comes from GNC doesn’t mean it is good for you.

    Ms. Skeptical

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