Americans eat well. As a country, we’re well fed. We eat a lot, and we tend to weigh a lot. But that doesn’t mean we’re healthy. With contemporary eating habits, it’s becoming more and more difficult to follow a good nutritional diet. Americans eat out more, and fast food has become an everyday meal for many. This routine means more saturated fat and less nutritional balance.
Convenience is one of the reasons the vitamin industry has done so well in the last few years–We eat on the run, and we want our health on the run. We dine on hamburgers, french fries and pizza, and only 15% of us eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But we pop a few vitamin pills and hope this takes up the slack. The problem is, research shows this doesn’t work. Even scientists who believe in vitamin supplementation to aid with specific disorders don’t believe vitamin pills can compensate for careless eating habits.
In January, 1996, The American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest organization of nutrition professionals, gave this advice: “The best nutritional strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to obtain adequate nutrients from a wide variety of foods.”
Good advice! Of course, it takes awareness to find out what foods provide you with the nutrients you need–but if your health is at stake, isn’t it worth it?
Here are a few natural vitamin sources:
For Vitamin A, eat liver, egg yolks, fortified milk and dairy products and fish oil.
For beta carotene, eat carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, cantaloupes and apricots.
Vitamin C of course is in citrus fruits, but also in melons, berries, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes.
You can get Vitamin D from egg yolks, fortified milk, eel, herring, salmon and liver.
Vitamin E sources are vegetable oil, nuts, wheat germ, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
B6 is in bananas, beans and peas, avocados, poultry, fish and pork.
For B12, go to meats, diary products, eggs, liver and fish.
Calcium is in diary foods, but also in such vegetables as broccoli and collards, as well as in tofu.
Magnesium is in all unprocessed foods, highest in nuts, vegetables and grains.
Zinc can be found in meat, liver, eggs and seafood.
For iron eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables and tofu.
Eating healthy may take a little work at first, but it has one other great advantage over fast food–it’s cheaper, short-term and long-term.