There are many reasons people may take nutritional supplements. Generally, the reason is to promote health or to protect from specific ailments or diseases. There is a perception that supplemental pills are superior to dietary sources of nutrition. However, that perception is not necessarily true. Nutrients are best obtained from dietary sources, not nutritional supplements. Nutritional supplements cannot take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain substances not found in pills which work together to keep us healthy. We cannot get the same synergistic effect from a supplement. In fact, taking some supplements in higher than recommended doses can result in unfavorable side effects.
While it is true that nutritional supplements cannot replace the nutritional benefits of foods, nutritional supplements may be appropriate in some cases. For example, people who have limited sunlight exposure may need a Vitamin D supplement. An iron supplement may be appropriate for some women who have anemia. Taking a Vitamin C supplement may help decrease the severity of common cold symptoms. These are just a few instances in which it may be appropriate to take vitamins or other nutritional supplements for health promoting purposes. Otherwise, nutrients are best obtained from dietary sources such as fruits and vegetables.
Terri Quenzer is a plant-based food advocate and writer who suggests adding greens to your diet as the first step in making a long-term commitment to your health. I agree with Terri. However, I would argue that making a long term commitment to your health begins with growing your own fruits and vegetables as a natural source of nutritional supplements. There is overwhelming evidence that people who grow their own fruits and vegetables consume more fruits and vegetables compared to people who do not grow their own fruits and vegetables. Greens are a natural source of nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Carotenoids. If you are not interested in greens, consider growing tomatoes which are rich in Vitamin C and Lycopene. How about cucumbers? Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow. Children love their watermelon appearance and consistency. Cucumbers are also good sources of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Besides being a natural source of nutrients, growing your own fruits and vegetables has additional health benefits such as the opportunity to eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides that might be used on conventionally grown super-market produce. Growing your own produce gives you the power to be your own organic farmer!
In closing, I often hear people say that they cannot grow their own foods because they ‘do not have a green thumb’. I agree to a certain point. However, I often find that the reason some people do not have a green thumb is because they are not using their green thumb! I was not born with a green thumb. I made mistakes and still make mistakes in my garden. Learning to garden takes time and practice. You will make mistakes. Start over! Try again! Take growing your own fruits and vegetables seriously, but not so literally.
The Nurse Farmer ™