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Astronauts don’t believe in vitamin supplements, why should you?

Astronauts don’t believe in vitamin supplements, why should you?

We all know stories about pirates, sailors and the dreaded scurvy. Well, this is the story of modern day sailors… astronauts, who spend extended time in space. If it was critical to keep someone at their optimal physical, mental and immune performance levels it would be astronauts. Take off must pretty hectic on the body, confined conditions, no gravity, interrupted sleep patterns and added stress.

With the help of science fiction, it would be easy to imagine astronauts living on a futuristic handful of vitamins and mineral supplements. Well, that’s not the case… the only supplement NASA deems critical for astronauts is Vitamin D, our bodies need UV light to produce Vitamin D and all windows on the spacecraft have UV filters.

NASA even go as far as saying there is no known benefit to taking Vitamins. Byler says: “Some crews opt to take other vitamins or supplements (in consultation with their flight surgeons), but we maintain there is no known benefit of these” (1). So yes apart from Vitamin D they get everything else from nature directly in its complex form, or as we like to call it, food. The other scary fact is that it can be very dangerous to have too much of a vitamin. RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is not just a minimum level but there is also a maximum level too. There are many scientific studies linking diseases to too much of a vitamin (2).

Is modern food nutritious enough?

One of the popular belief is possibly a myth. The myth is that modern fruit and veg is depleted of nutrients or that we should only eat organic food. While organic farming certainly does have huge benefits to you and the earth by not using synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides there is no scientific evidence that proves that organic food is more nutritious, even after 223 scientific nutrient comparison studies (3). Many people agree that organic is the more earth friendly and responsible way forward. Other claims about depleted nutrition in fruit and veg suggest a 5-40% drop in nutrients, but the historical data they are comparing is possibly not accurate because of old equipment. Regardless of this we certainly know that you feel a whole lot better and it’s far easier to manage your weight when you eat your veg!

Quality in quality out!

Many people claim the modern diet doesn’t offer enough nutrients. It’s true if you chose to live on a high carb, high sugar, junk & refined food diet of bread and soft drinks you are going to be lacking essential nutrients, but if you live on supplements you then expose yourself to having too much or too little of a nutrient. Once again eat a wide range of veggies especially your greens!

Fibre and your good gut bacteria

Another reason to eat real veggies is fibre. It is believed that fibre breaks down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which then feeds the good gut bacteria. We certainly know that our stomach feels better when you eat your veggies (people refer to it as ‘feeling light’ when eating a good diet). More and more people are becoming aware of how important it is to look after your gut bacteria, calling our gut our second brain and realising that in the end human are made up of a lot of bacteria. Look after your flora so it looks after you!

A solution

Spend your money on buying quality whole food, loads of veggies, limited fruit, some nuts and seeds and good protein sources. Rather cut your budget on vitamins, if astronauts don’t need vitamin supplements (apart from Vitamin D) then neither do you. Get a mix of fresh and cooked veggies.

But eating veg is difficult and hard work

Eating more veg does require more effort (shopping, cooking and cleaning), if you don’t have the time then consider the FitChef lifestyle, you will be able repurposing your time for more social activity, exercise, work or personal goals, with less time wasted at the shops, in queues, driving, preparing, cooking and certainly less washing up. You would also be enjoying food more by having tasty, convenient food that will positively change your life. #EatClean Food without man-made chemical, no preservatives or artificial additives, or artificial sugars. Stock your freezer today for the month in advance, order online we deliver to most major areas in South Africa.


1. “Some crews opt to take other vitamins or supplements (in consultation with their flight surgeons), but we maintain there is no known benefit of these,” Byerly adds. Read more:
2. Intake of vegetables, fruits, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin supplements and cancer incidence among the elderly: a prospective study
A. Shibata, A. Paganini-Hill, R. K. Ross, and B. E. Henderson
3. Annals of Internal Medicine: Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review
Crystal Smith-Spangler, MD, MS; Margaret L. Brandeau, PhD; Grace E. Hunter, BA; J. Clay Bavinger, BA; Maren Pearson, BS; Paul J. Eschbach; Vandana Sundaram, MPH; Hau Liu, MD, MS, MBA, MPH; Patricia Schirmer, MD; Christopher Stave, MLS; Ingram Olkin, PhD; Dena M. Bravata, MD, MS – 4 September 2012


The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.