Superfoods vs. Supplemente

The shelves of our supermarkets and health food stores are simply overflowing with them: fancy vitamin and mineral supplements in all shapes and sizes! Dietary supplements that, judging by the optimistic promises on their clever packaging, will work wonders for both our physical health and mental well-being.
However, research increasingly suggests that many of these vitamin and mineral pills offer little to no tangible health benefits. So should we continue to spend a small fortune on expensive vitamin and mineral supplements, or is there a better, far more sensible way to increase our nutrient intake?
Let's find out!

What are vitamin and mineral supplements?

Food supplements are essentially products that aim to "supplement" our diet with nutrients that may be missing or not consumed in sufficient quantities.
They come in a variety of different forms, from traditional tablets and capsules to powders, drinks, and supplement bars.
We are often persuaded to buy by the compelling health claims on the packaging. As a rule, such preparations promise:
- strengthen the immune system (and thus help to prevent colds and hot flashes)
- Unwelcome signs of aging are reduced and delayed
- Vitality is increased
- Increase in libido
- longer life expectancy and reduced risk of chronic diseases

Who takes it?

More and more of us are turning to expensive vitamin and mineral supplements for an easy and quick fix. According to a 2008 survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), almost a third of people in the United States take some form of vitamin, mineral or dietary supplement most days, while around 15% of us report taking in the last 12 to have taken a "high-dose" preparation for months.
The FSA study also found that the following groups were much more likely to take vitamin and mineral supplements: women, the elderly, those with medical conditions. Around half of all households with children state that parents also give their children vitamin or mineral supplements.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements - A Waste Of Money?

The human body is often unable to effectively absorb the isolated vitamins and minerals found in supplements. In order to be able to digest vitamins and minerals properly, our body needs a whole spectrum of supplementary and supporting nutrients, such as those provided by nature in the form of natural superfoods.
Tomatoes, for example, contain a phytonutrient known as lycopene, which has been linked to a potential ability to prevent prostate cancer. However, when this active ingredient is taken in isolated form, its positive effect is limited.
The same goes for most vitamins and minerals.
Our bodies have no use for vitamin C or zinc in an isolated form, instead requiring a complete and balanced combination of nutrients drawn from a variety of different foods. And certain so-called health additives are not only ineffective, but also dangerous. Some, such as low-quality weight loss products that can be ordered, for example, over the Internet, even contain banned substances and therefore can pose a serious threat to our health.

So what is the alternative to isolated vitamins and minerals and other types of health supplements?

Superfoods - the sensible alternative to supplements. 
Experts agree that most of us get enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from a healthy, balanced diet or, in the case of vitamin D, from adequate amounts of sunlight.
dr Vic Shayne, nutritionist, researcher and director of the American Nutrition Research Center in Boulder, believes vitamins belong in food, not in jars.
"Our food is made by nature and contains thousands of nutrients not found in vitamins or multivitamins. These nutrients are often far more important than vitamins and minerals alone." 
So der Direktor des American Nutrition Research Center in Boulder.

The nutrients he talks about include complete proteins, fiber, chlorophyll, antioxidants and essential fatty acids to name a few. He also claims that an added benefit of natural foods is that they are "naturally balanced, have no unpleasant side effects, are non-toxic, and contain nutrients that regulate very specific biochemical functions in the body."

Supplementing an already healthy, balanced diet with so-called superfoods, which are naturally rich in nutrients, is therefore not only significantly cheaper than buying overpriced supplements, but also a sensible way to increase nutrient intake more safely.

What are superfoods? 
Superfoods are pure foods straight from nature. Sourced from some of the most remote and unspoilt corners of the planet, they are by definition low in calories and high in beneficial nutrients including fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids.

Superfoods are commonly grouped into the following categories:

Cocoa products - z.B. cocoa powder, cocoa beans and cocoa butter

Supergreens - z.B. Kohl, barley grass powderaround wheatgrass powder

superfruits - z.B. Goji-Beeren, Acai-Beerenpulver and Inkan berries

seaweed and seafood - z.B. Tang-Pulver, Chlorella powder and Spirulina Powder

Coconut products - z.B. Coconut beer, Kokoszucker and coconut aminos

nuts and seeds - z.B. hemp seeds, Chiasamen, almonds and Cashewnüsse

bee products - e.g. bee pollen, raw honey and propolis

Superfood-Süssstoffe - z.B. Lucuma-Pulver, Organic Stevia Sweetener and agave nectar.

herbs - z.B. Maca-Pulver, Brazilian Ginseng Powder and Organic Astragalus Extract Powder

Superfood-Snacks - e.g. superfood muesli, raw candy bars and kale chips

The Health Benefits of Superfoods:

The benefit of consuming superfoods is that they provide a full spectrum of complementary and supportive nutrients at once - nutrients that are in their natural state and therefore can offer much more in terms of potential health benefits, including boosted immunity, increased energy, increased libido, improved athletic performance, greater mental fitness and focus, greater physical and emotional balance. Superfoods can also help us reach our weight loss goals more easily, delay some of the more unwelcome signs of aging, and may even help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of a variety of modern diseases.

While there may be occasional times when one needs to take a high-quality, concentrated vitamin and mineral supplement (eg, when at risk of severe deficiency), the best way to increase nutrient intake and prevent deficiency is the enjoyment of a wide range of delicious superfoods that are naturally nutrient dense. This also applies in general to a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published