As you probably know, we have an excellent resource in Ask the Scientists. It’s a database filled with questions and answers about a variety of health-related topics. Our Science Information team does a great job keeping health-conscious consumers informed. I encourage you to check it out and bookmark it.
One question I received recently via Facebook is something I thought the What’s Up, USANA? audience might be interested in learning more about.
Question: I started taking the Essentials™ recently and I have a few questions. I’m only 20 years old, I eat pretty well and work out pretty often. I am also involved in sporting activities a few times a week. Am I still too young to be taking the Essentials?
I have been told I shouldn’t be taking multivitamins or anything like that because I’m young and I don’t need it. Considering the Essentials do contain a high amount of vitamins and minerals, am I “overdoing” it? I do feel a major difference when taking Essentials but (this may sound ridiculous), I’m afraid that my body will start to rely on the Essentials to get through my daily activities. Could you please clarify my concerns?
First, it is so great that you have established healthy eating and exercise habits early in life. That is the best thing you can do to be on top of your game now and help reduce risks of lifestyle-based health problems later. And we want to be clear: no supplement can replace a varied and balanced diet.
You mention that you feel a difference taking the Essentials. I think you’ve somewhat answered your own question. You likely feel great thanks to your healthy lifestyle and because your body has the nutrients it needs to function at its best on all levels.
When dietary experts say that you can get all the nutrients you need by eating a healthy diet, it is likely they are talking about the dietary amounts recommended by government agencies.
We have observed that those reference amounts are usually fairly minimal and are only sufficient for preventing deficiency related issues, rather than promoting optimal health.
Based on various preventive studies we have reviewed, we firmly believe that higher amounts of nutrients will deliver better short and long-term benefits.
Assessing your personal situation would require an extensive dietary survey; however, the fact remains that most young adults are not getting enough key nutrients, such as vitamin D (especially prevalent in those who stay indoors a lot and are diligent about wearing sunscreen), and those who do not use vitamin supplements have a significantly higher prevalence of inadequate vitamin intakes.
Basically, taking a supplement is a good way for you to ensure that you have adequate intakes of all the key nutrients you need.
As for becoming dependent on a supplement (not a ridiculous question at all), the body doesn’t treat nutrients like drugs, and they don’t technically cause dependency.
There have been some studies released of late that have called into question what happens in the body when we consume large amounts of antioxidants. Does the body stop performing its natural antioxidant activities when antioxidants come in the form of a supplement?
At this time, we haven’t seen any data compelling enough to cause concern. In fact, those types of studies are often called into question later, and we view them in context of the overwhelming number of studies that have shown benefits for supplements.
It is possible to consume too much of certain nutrients. USANA uses nutrients in forms and amounts that are known to be safe, and it is generally better to get everything you need and risk a little extra of something, than be short on anything that could be vital.
In most cases, your body will simply use what it needs and get rid of the rest. However, if you still are concerned, a nice benefit of a multiple-pill dose is that it allows you to take less if you don’t want to consume a full dose. If you only took half a dose every day and still found yourself feeling as good as you are feeling on the full dose, perhaps that level is appropriate for you now.
It really comes down to your diet, your body, and how you feel. Nutrition is complex and highly individualized; you will need to experiment to find what works best for you.
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