Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine Focused on Energetics of Food

Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients

When it comes to fruits and vegetables: phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber are all important to human health. If you are thinking of buying a phytonutrient powder or another type of phytonutrient supplement, here are some facts you should know.

Phytonutrients are simply “plant” nutrients. Phyto was taken from the Greek word for plant. The word “phytochemical” has the same meaning and is used interchangeably. For advertising and emotional purposes, though, a phytonutrient supplement sounds better than phytochemical, particularly to people who are looking for all natural products.

Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients

Public health organizations continuously advise people to eat more fruits and vegetables; phytonutrients are a big part of the reason. There are numerous phytochemicals. Phytonutrient powder, made from fruits and veggies, may contain a great many of them in condensed form. It is necessary to read the label if you are interested in the health benefits related to one specific compound. Educating yourself is key.

There is no question about the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrients in isolated forms, however, can have a negative effect on some people and may not provide all of the health benefits of the whole foods. This may be surprising to some people who read about the benefits of fruits and vegetables phytonutrients, but it's true nonetheless.

We will discuss more on this below.

First, however, it's important to know that a phytonutrient supplement may contain polyphenol antioxidants. These are the compounds that give bright colors to fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrients known as lutein, lycopene, carotene, anthocyanin, and zeaxanthin are all examples of polyphenol antioxidants.

On an ingredient label for a phytonutrient powder or other supplement, these may be referred to in other terms, such as carotenoids, beta-carotene or Xanthophylls. You may also see beta-carotene referred to as vitamin A; however beta-carotene is actually converted to vitamin A within the body.

Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients

The health benefits of lutein, carotene and zeaxanthin are related to good vision throughout life. A phytonutrient supplement containing lutein and zeaxanthin may be recommended for persons with a family history of cataracts or macular degeneration, either of which can eventually lead to blindness. Carotene, found in carrots and other orange vegetables, has long been recognized for its importance to good vision.

Carotene and retinol are the two dietary sources of Vitamin A. It, like many other vitamins, can also be created synthetically in the laboratory. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, dry skin and other more serious eye conditions. If the label of a phytonutrient powder simply lists vitamin A, the use of this product may be unadvisable.

Much better would be products created from the whole fruits and vegetables phytonutrients.

Carotenes are non-toxic to the human body. While excessive consumption of carrots and other vegetables containing carotene can lead to a yellowing or a bronzing of the skin, it is not dangerous.

On the other hand, excess consumption of supplements containing retinol or artificially created vitamin A can be toxic to the liver and cause dry skin and hair loss. Women of child bearing age need to be particularly careful about what their vitamin supplements contain, because excess consumption can lead to birth defects.

It is suspected that long-term use of dietary supplements containing retinol or artificial vitamin A can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in the elderly, in which the bones become brittle and are easily fractured or broken. The outward symptom of osteoporosis is a loss of height and a gradual curving of the spine.

While carotenes are converted to vitamin A on an as needed basis, studies have shown that supplements containing the isolated forms of beta-carotene or other types of vitamin A should be avoided by smokers and those with lung irritations from second hand smoke or asbestos.

Initially, the researchers hoped that these supplements would prevent or reduce the likelihood of lung cancer in these groups, as it does in non-smokers and those with healthy lungs, but the studies were stopped early because of a high mortality rate.

The American Cancer Society has requested that warning labels for smokers are placed on any dietary or phytonutrient supplement containing any isolated form of vitamin A or beta-carotene.

Whole foods and whole food supplements do not fall into this category.

Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients: Products

Phytonutrient powder may contain vitamin C, which is found in large quantities in most fruits and vegetables; phytonutrients, like vitamin C have many health benefits. Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, a condition in which the gums become spongy and bleed, leading to loss of the teeth and eventually death.

A simple long-term lack of vitamin C in the diet can lead to depression and fatigue. Numerous chronic illnesses are believed to be related to a lack of vitamin C in the diet. It is hypothesized that atherosclerosis, the major form of heart disease and the number one killer in the United States, is related to a long-term chronic lack of sufficient vitamin C intake.

In athletes, body-builders and weight lifters, vitamin C supplements taken before their individual activity seems to increase strength and endurance. However, more than 1000mg per day may reduce the muscle recovery effect that is caused by all of the body’s natural antioxidants, not a single vitamin or mineral. If a phytonutrient supplement contains more than 1000mg of vitamin C and you are interested in lean muscle and endurance, then that may not be the right supplement for you.

Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients Summary

It would be impossible to completely cover all of the benefits of the many fruits and vegetables phytonutrients in an article of this length. It would also be impossible to cover all of the cautions for specific individuals thinking of purchasing a phytonutrient supplement or phytonutrient powder.

On the other hand, one simple sentence covers whole food supplements: they can be a safe and important method by which people improve their health and well-being because they are made from the whole fruit or veggie and do not just contain isolated components.

Dean’s Tip:

Just because a supplement may have exotic sounding ingredients, or is "cutting-edge," doesn't mean it's healthier for you or better than a true whole food supplement. Don't buy a supplement unless it is backed by research. Learn more about the fruit and vegetable supplements I use and recommend by clicking here.

The U.S. government has spent billions trying to find a cure for heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.


Disease is easier to PREVENT than it is to cure.


Eat 7-13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.


Almost no one does.

Whole FOOD SUPPLEMENTS help fill the nutritional gaps.

Much more than Fruits and Vegetables Phytonutrients Discussed back at the Home Page

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