Functional foods (those that are fortified or make health claims) are taking over grocery store shelves, but that trend may not be as beneficial as it sounds. That’s because eating too many of these foods may provide more vitamins and minerals than you need. We asked New York City–based nutritionist Brooke Alpert, RD, to analyze a typical daily American diet (see chart) and were shocked by the steep amounts of certain nutrients it contained.
If you pop a supplement (as more than half of Americans do), you’d take in even more. Consuming so many vitamins and minerals, which the fortified food trend encourages, may carry health risks. Large doses of calcium, for example, can cause constipation and may increase your odds for developing kidney stones and heart disease, and large doses of folic acid have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer in some people with precancerous lesions. To avoid overdoing it, read labels on processed foods to learn how many additional vitamins and minerals you’d be consuming before you pop extra supplements. You may find you’re getting enough from your diet already.