Posted by Alison on 26th October 2008
Medical research has established an indisputable link between good nutrition and long-term health. Optional nutrition includes the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds we consume in small amounts (micronutrients), as well as the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that make up the bulk of our food (macronutrients). During every stage of life, both classes of nutrients are critical for long-term health.
We all know that a complete, well-balanced diet – rich in fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – is a solid foundation for good nutrition and optimal health. However, too few of us consistently consume such a healthy, well-balanced diet. This can lead to chronic deficiencies for one or more essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, placing our good health at risk.
Meeting dietary needs
The United States government has been setting Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) guidelines for vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients since 1941. from the beginning, the RDA were intended only to help reduce the rates of severe nutritional deficiencies, not to serve as guidance on optimal nutrition for long-term health.
It’s true that obtaining the RDA amounts of micronutrients prevents acute deficiency diseases, such as scurvy or rickets. But the RDA guidelines do not take into account chronic nutrient deficiencies that can threaten long-term good health or the potential health benefits of advanced levels of certain nutrients. Some nutrients may be required at levels higher than can easily be supplied with food. Many other factors, such as lifestyle and living and working environment, can change our dietary needs and contribute to personal requirements for certain nutrients that are well above RDA guidelines.
Overfed and Undernourished
Because of poor eating habits, only a small percentage of the United States population gets even the RDA levels of many important nutrients. With more and more meals being eaten away from home and a steadily increasing number of those meals coming from fast food restaurants, the average American diet is one of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor food. Nationwide nutrition monitoring shows that the average intake of important minerals, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper, are below levels recommended for virtually every age group and every race/ethnicity designation. We are overfed and undernourished, which is demonstrated by an epidemic of obesity, especially among young people.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage normal body tissues. Although they are normal by-products of cellular metabolism, free radicals are also acquired from environmental elements such as pollution, smoke, and excessive sunlight or by smoking, drinking, alcohol, breathing commonly used chemicals, and eating high-fat, fried foods.
Under ideal circumstances, antioxidants produced by the body and supplied by the diet “scavenge” free radicals and destroy them as they are produced. But because our bodies are constantly being bombarded, the cumulative effects of free radicals can upset this balance and have devastating results. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements are another line of defense against the effects of free radicals.
The importance of getting optimal levels of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, as well as the right amounts and types of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, cannot be overestimated. Quality nutritional supplements can help deliver the essential nutrients that are missing from many Americans’ diets. USANA nutritional products are designed to provide a balanced spectrum of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants to help compensate for poor nutrition and to counteract oxidative stress. These supplements are designed to complement a healthy lifestyle and supply advanced levels of essential nutrients that are needed to maintain a lifetime of good health.