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The argument against supplementation by some is that if you are eating a well-rounded healthy diet you should be getting all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need from whole foods. Cavemen didn’t take vitamin supplements, they ate food!! Real Food! However the quality of the food available to our earliest ancestors was vastly superior to the crap we have access to in our supermarkets, discount stores and most restaurants.  In theory and in a perfect world our food would be all we need. However, in real life and the imperfect world we live in this has been proven to be sadly not the case. There are a few reasons why.

First is that we have depleted our soil of minerals due to over-farming, mechanical farming practices and chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that kill and disrupt the normal biological functioning of the microscopic world in our soil that gives the food grown there it’s normal nutrient profile. Due to these modern “advances” that leads to higher yields, it also leads to significantly lower nutrient density.  As cited and researched by Mira and Jayson Calton, authors of Naked Calories:

  • As early as 1936, Congress is told that the land is lacking of micronutrients causing over 99% of the American people to be deficient in essential minerals.
  • In 1992, the Earth summit revealed that the situation had only become worse. Even after the initial warning in 1936, the land had only become more devoid of essential minerals.
  • In 2003, News Canada reported that fruit and vegetables contain far fewer nutrients than they did 50 years ago. Potatoes, for example, had lost 100% of vitamin A content, 57% of vitamin C and iron, and 28% of calcium. The report examined data from the US Department of Agriculture involving vegetable quality. Over the entire 20th century the average mineral content in cabbage, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes, declined from 400 mg to less than 50 mg.

Second is the sorry state of the nutritional integrity of our animal foods. When we feed our animals what they are genetically designed to eat and allow for living conditions they thrive in rather than get sick in, the fatty acid and nutritional density of the meat is hard to beat! However, when these animals are forced into CAFOs (concentrated animal feedlot operation) standing shoulder to shoulder in a pool of feces and eating grain and corn to fatten them up faster than their natural diet ever could, the quality of that meat is questionable at best. Ruminants like cows are herbivores! They eat herbs….grass! Anything else makes them sick. Someone like myself who has to eat out everyday due to work, I am forced to make the best possible choice of quite frankly sub-optimal choices. So unless you can eat at home, cooking from scratch for yourself everyday with grass-fed/pastured animals and locally grown organic veggies, chances are you’re not getting all the nutrients you think you are getting.

Third is the crazy, over-stimulated, over-stressed, contaminated world we live in today. Our bodies were NOT built to withstand the kind of stress we put it under EVERYDAY! Yes, we are built to handle stress, but we are built to handle acute stresses. We evolved being able to run to or from something or someone. We evolved being able to move heavy things when we needed to. The acute stress of kill or be killed. We are not built to handle the chronic stresses that we are subjected to day-in and day-out. Chronic stresses like work pressures, financial pressures, societal pressures, physical stresses from the diseases we never suffered from until a few hundred years ago like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. You name it, if a stress is derived by man, we are probably not genetically designed to handle it.   

 All of these factors have led to chronic and rampant micro-nutrient deficiencies. Micro-nutrient deficiencies are proven co-factors in more health problems I can possibly list here. But here are a few of the most common deficiencies:

  • Iron – leads to anemia. Signs of anemia are paleness, tiredness, headaches and breathlessness
  • Iodine – can have a pretty severe impact on thyroid function. Just a small deficiency can lead to extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, excess weight gain, and low basal body temperatures.
  • Vitamin D – can show up as bone pain and weakness, muscle weakness, fatigue as well as higher rates of cardio vascular disease, asthma and cancer.
  • Magnesium – can lead to headaches, restless leg syndrome, cramping and hyper tension to name just few.
  • Vitamin B-12:  shows up as lethargy, depression and anxiety, unwanted weight-loss and autism.

These are just some of the most common deficiencies but another concern to be aware of is the all too common imbalance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids. The ideal ratio is about 1:1 ratio. The Standard American Diet (SAD) ratio is often a 30:1!! What??!! The majority of Americans are getting entirely too much omega 6 due to the prevalence of processed vegetable oils in our diet as well as the improper feeding practices of our livestock. The result is an increase in almost all inflammatory diseases.  These include but are not limited to:

  •  cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
  • macular degeneration
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • psychiatric disorders
  • autoimmune diseases

 So, if you haven’t already figured this out, yes supplements for most of us are a really good idea. Some basics to consider and ask your TRUSTED practitioner about are:

  • A highly absorbable whole food multi-vitamin.
  • An Omega 3 supplement
  • A pro-biotic for gut health and proper immune function.
  • Depending on your individual circumstances a high potency Vitamin D, Magnesium, Iodine, Iron and Vitamin B or others not listed here. Your needs for these will be dependent upon your individual needs and you may want to consult your practitioner and/or nutritionist for guidance.

My best advice is to be smart, understand the limitations your lifestyle and determine your most likely areas of weakness/deficiency. Listen to your body. Trust that is wants to feel awesome. Feed it with the most nutrient dense foods you can find and supplement for the most obvious areas of potential deficiency based on the life you lead.

 

Until Next Time,

 Laura, MGP

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