Recently, stories about several research studies raised questions about the impact of supplementation on life expectancy, increasing the confusion many people feel about taking vitamins.
We asked Mark Liponis, M.D., Canyon Ranch Corporate Medical Director, to shed some light on the subject:
“It’s important that we use science to help guide us in the use of vitamins and supplements. Just because a supplement contains vitamins, or “all natural” ingredients doesn’t mean they’re healthy or even safe. We know vitamins are necessary for health and disease prevention, but it’s certainly possible to take too much of a good thing.
“The latest studies are interesting, and they raise some questions about the optimal dosages of common vitamins and minerals. But none of the studies should be considered an indictment of vitamins in general, nor should anyone throw away their vitamins because of a report they read in the paper.”
“The latest studies do emphasize the importance of taking the right vitamins, and of working with experienced nutritionists or a physician to determine your own dietary and vitamin needs. After all, these are supplements to your diet, so it’s important to first take your diet into consideration. Experts also factor in your health issues, symptoms, and genetic risks before making a vitamin and supplement recommendation.
“One of the reasons it’s so great working with our team at Canyon Ranch is the ongoing active dialogue we have about the latest research on vitamins and supplements.”
The results of some recent research on the benefits of vitamin supplements are disappointing. So, should you throw out all your vitamins? Canyon Ranch Medical Director Mark Liponis, M.D., puts it into perspective.
To salt or not to salt?
Kelly Grant, R.D., N.C., nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, who regularly gives a presentation called Please Pass the Salt, weighs in on what the new USDA guideline on sodium intake means to you. It’s no news that Americans eat too much salt, but the USDA standard developed last year has helped clarify just how much too much we eat.
The average daily intake for Americans is at least 3,436 mg a day. That’s about 50% higher than the USDA’s Tolerable Upper Intake Level (2,300 mg, or about a teaspoon of salt), and more than twice the recently established Recommended Adequate Intake Level (1,500 mg) for African Americans, people over 50 and those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
We all love salt, but most of us would realize substantial health benefits from reducing our sodium intake. How, then, can we best reconcile our love of tasty food with our need to limit salt? After doing the obvious things – reducing our consumption of sodium-laden processed food, snack foods, and canned soups – what next?
Cook! Because restaurant meals tend to be very salty, eating fresh foods at home can significantly reduce sodium consumption.
Here are some of the ways Canyon Ranch nutritionists and chefs maximize the appeal and nutritional value of Ranch cuisine while keeping added sodium within healthy limits:
Instead of relying on sodium-heavy condiments such as ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, etc., emphasize other wonderful flavorings. Fresh and dried herbs, zest from citrus fruit, fruit juices, garlic, exotic spices and salt-free spice mixes like Mrs. Dash add flavor without the sodium.
Develop a repertoire of sodium-conscious recipes. Canyon Ranch recipes are, of course, a great resource but taste all food carefully before adding salt. As a general rule, choose less processed forms of food – whole oats instead of an oatmeal packet, for example. Try cooking oats in the crockpot and freezing extra portions. You can add your own terrific flavor with honey, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, berries, etc.
Read labels. Watch out for those that specify multiple servings for what is, realistically, a one-serving container, thereby giving the illusion of fewer calories and less sodium per serving. Food manufacturers can be tricky.
Finally, simply eat more fresh fruit and vegetables: Aim for 8 to 10 half-cup servings daily. Increasing your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables will help displace the sodium content in restaurant and processed foods.