Do We Need Nutrition in a Can? Are Liquid Supplements for YOU?
Until recently such products as Ensure (tm) and Boost (tm) were primarily used to meet the special needs of patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Lately we have seen companies marketing these drinks to people of all ages and states of health.
Liquid supplements are supposedly the answer for busy moms with a tight schedule, business people dashing out without time for a sit-down breakfast, and older adults wanting to guarantee that they will be able to enjoy their grandchildren. What are the benefits liquid supplements reportedly offer?
In general, these supplements are composed of water, sugar, milk and soy proteins, oils, vitamins, and minerals. A typical 8-ounce can has 250 calories, and the Aplus@ version may have as many as 355 calories. Most are lactose free, some have added fiber, and some are specifically designed for children or adults with certain health problems.
Companies are also selling supplements in the form of pudding or bars, with varying nutrient content.
What nutritional need are companies trying to help consumers answer? Below are some of the reasons companies give for buying their products.
Advertisers may use fear tactics to make you worry that you are not getting proper nutrition through ordinary foods. Although some people are consuming less than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for some nutrients, this doesn't mean they will develop a deficiency disease. If you truly feel you are not getting enough nutrients from your food, consult a registered dietitian or a KSU Extension Specialist in nutrition. They can help you evaluate your need for supplements.
“Too busy to eat right” - Liquid supplements may be a quick way to get vitamins, minerals and protein, but there is more needed for good health! Scientists continue to discover new compounds in foods that provide health-protective benefits. While the canned supplements may lack fiber and other healthy components, they may be high in sugars and calories. Although this was ideal for the original intent of the products, most healthy consumers don=t want or need all the extra calories that the supplement provides.
“Difficulty preparing meals or poor appetite” - Liquid supplements may provide an answer for occasional use, but continued use may lead to boredom and even less interest in eating. For a consumer with a poor appetite or impaired ability to fix meals, the solution might be home-delivered meals or eating at a group meal site. These meals will offer more variety and may be available at little or no cost to the consumer.
“Nutrition after surgery, during illness or chronic disease” - Liquid nutritional supplements can be beneficial for people with special nutritional needs brought on by serious illnesses. For example, those with AIDS or cancer have increased nutritional needs, and liquid nutritional supplements are appropriate and valuable in these situations.
In summary, while there is a need for liquid nutritional supplements in certain medical conditions, these products are unnecessary for the average, healthy person. The cost for one 8-ounce can of standard formula, and more for specialized formulas must be part of the decision if a person is considering use of a liquid nutritional supplement.