Why Do We Even Need Supplements? Part One
Not needing supplements may have been possible in this country 100 years ago before our soils were depleted and before large-scale food processing, but it’s not true today. There are simply too many elements that can cause people to become vitamin and mineral deficient.
People Want Results
Most of my clients have become frustrated with traditional drug therapy, and are searching for healthier alternatives. Nutritional supplements are at the top of their lists. Today, nearly 70% of Americans take some type of vitamins or food supplements. More than 3,000 vitamin and mineral supplements stand on shelves in health food stores around the country. The supplement industry is here to stay.
More Than Genetics
Although it is true that genetics play a role in our health profile, a disease that runs in a family is not always genetically related. Often, everyone in a family eats the same nutrient-depleted diet and follows the same sedentary lifestyle. Often we get what mom or dad got because we eat like they ate! Our health and protection from disease depends on many factors, and a large one is supplementation. Let’s begin by looking at five reasons you may need to supplement your diet.
1. To Makeup for Our Unhealthy Lifestyles
Nutrient deficiencies created by our American diet can cause the body to be prone to a number of symptoms including viruses, infections, allergies, headaches, fatigue, bowel problems, heart attacks, and arthritis.
The 1997 World Health Report stated that our modern diet is too high in fat, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, and it doesn’t provide enough vitamins, minerals or fiber to meet our nutritional needs. The sad fact is that anywhere people have adopted our American diet, there has been an increase in heart disease, strokes and cancers. Uh-oh!
Even at our best, who has the time, energy and money to eat a “well-balanced” diet every day? Even if we could get all the nutrition from our diets, only 9% of the population eats the recommended five to nine servings of protective fruits and vegetables. And God knows how many parents have tried to make their children eat broccoli!
Our lifestyles and habits prevent us from getting the nutrition we need. Our American lifestyle of eating sugar, drinking caffeine, or drinking alcohol, at least hinders absorption of minerals, and at worst, further aggravates a mineral deficiency. For example, a calcium deficiency is commonly linked to excess of caffeine from any source.
2. To Replenish What’s Missing in our Soil
One hundred years ago, all of our soil was “organic.” People were healthier, too.
I’ve already mentioned that the average American doesn’t even eat their recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. The sad part is that the fruits and vegetables they do grab are frighteningly low in minerals. For example, the most popular vegetable eaten by teens is French fries!
Minerals are essential for our health and longevity. Everyone knows that we need calcium for healthy bones and teeth or iron to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. We need both macro and trace minerals. Our body can produce some vitamins, but it can’t produce minerals. Vegetables absorb minerals from the soil, so we depend on them as sources for minerals. But what if these valuable minerals aren’t in the soil? Then we need to take them as a supplement.
There is a great link between mineral-deficient soil and disease, which increases the vital need for at least whole-food mineral supplementation.
Unfortunately, our soils are depleted because of the use of chemical fertilizers. In 1948, you could buy spinach that contained 158 milligrams of iron. Today, the iron content of raw spinach is 27 milligrams. That means you would have to eat 6 bowls of spinach to get the same amount of iron that one bowl might have given you back in 1948.
3. To Replenish What’s Missing in Our Food
Unfortunately, we can’t depend on our food supply to give our bodies enough nutrition for optimum health. Few people grow their own organic food and eat it fresh.
Foods are usually transported across the country for days before they get to the supermarket, losing precious vitamins and minerals from exposure to light and air.
Food-processing, which includes canning and preserving destroys essential nutrients. For example, there is little or no folic acid left in canned vegetables. Folic acid in a pregnant women’s diet will prevent spina bifida, but it also helps prevent depression, cervical dysplasia and colon cancer.
Cooking food reduces its nutritional value by destroying 20% to 50% of vitamins, all enzymes, and many minerals. Boiling vegetables destroys most folic acid and vitamin C. Milling whole grains to make white flour results in 70% loss of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Even broiling meat destroys one-third of the B1 vitamin, thiamine.
Even if you ate your recommended portions of produce, it’s highly unlikely that you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals required for optimal health. By supplementing your diet, you can replenish what is missing in your food.
4. To Help You Deal With Various Stressors
Everybody feels the demands of life and stress. It seems that even children and teenagers need their own calendars to schedule all of their activities! Toddlers may never need a calendar but think about the stress their tiny bodies go through running around with Mommy all day—eating Lunchables or chicken nuggets! Stress depletes crucial nutrients, especially the water-soluble B and C vitamins, and a host of minerals.
Additionally, even good stress, such as regular aerobic exercise can increase your nutrient requirements. The increased needs are not met by the standard American diet, but can only be met with additional supplementation.
5. To Prevent or Reverse Disease
So often clients return to see me on their two-week follow-up and say, “I’ve changed my diet! I’m not eating any sugar or white-flour products. I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables now. So now can I get off these supplements?”
Even if you eat a nutrient-dense diet from today forward, what about the still-present nutritional deficiencies, which took years to develop? What about the last 10 or 20 years of consuming a poor diet?
The body uses nutrition first for day-to-day survival. Healing is the body’s second priority. It’s only when nutrients are left over at the end of the day that the body can heal. That’s why natural healing takes time. We have to continue to feed small amounts of whole foods over a period of months, or even years in the case of severe deficiency and disease, to help the body return to health.
I’ll continue my discussion of supplements next week. Look for part two, where I’ll help you understand how to buy the right types of supplements.
Adapted from the book, Why Do I Need Whole Food Supplements? By Lorrie Medford Copyright 2011 All rights reserved.
To order Lorrie’s book, Why Do I Need Whole Food Supplements?, click here.