In an ideal world, we could rely totally on Earth’s rich bounty to nourish us sufficiently without the need for popping our daily multi vitamin each morning. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world; far from it.
Supplements are, as their name suggests, substances which supplement our diet. They help to fill a few gaps where our diet doesn’t quite fulfil our needs.
Why do we need them?
1. Are you eating real food or food like substances?
The Western diet is often termed, quite appropriately, the SAD diet. SAD stands for Standard American Diet but before you sigh with relief, it pretty much applies to the UK too. It’s a very poor version of what should pass as a diet. It’s high in sugar, processed foods and damaged fats, and low in nutrient-dense foods such as fruit and vegetables.
In essence, a large percentage of the population regularly eat food-like substances rather than actual food.
The problem with this is very simple. We eat food not just for pleasure but to provide us with health-giving nutrients to help repair our cells and for them to do their stuff correctly (maybe make a hormone or contract a muscle etc). If we don’t provide our cells with the appropriate ingredients, how can they possibly be expected to function at all let alone optimally? Unfortunately, the cells draw on the body’s reserves to fulfil their needs. Gradually over time, our reserves become depleted and our body starts showing signs of ill-health.
Most diseases are recognised to be diet- or lifestyle- related.
Supplements are not intended as a substitute for a healthy diet. If we depend on processed foods and stimulants, taking supplements can’t possibly undo all the damage!!
2. How nutrient-rich is our food anyway?
Even if we eat a “healthy” diet, avoiding the processed food aisles of our supermarkets, we are still not necessarily getting our daily quota of vitamins and minerals.
The reason for this is that over the past few decades intensive farming has stripped the soils of vital nutrients.
In a study conducted over a 51-year period (1940 – 1991), mineral levels in a lot of vegetables dropped substantially. For instance, carrots lost 75% Magnesium, 48% Calcium, and 46% Iron!! The study also showed that critical ratios of certain minerals (for instance Magnesium: Calcium) was sufficiently altered to influence our biochemistry. HELP!!
When artificial fertilisers containing only three minerals (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) were introduced and found to provide big yields, long term consequences were sadly not considered. Our soils need 52 minerals, so modern farming is the equivalent of withdrawing £52 and depositing £3 at a time at the bank. The result: an overdrawn account!! Ditto with our soils. They become deficient, which leads to deficient crops, and our cells don’t then get the nutrients that they desperately need.
This is one reason why organic is the wise choice. Not only is it pesticide-free but organic farmers tend to follow sound traditional practices which replenish soils.
Even so. There can still be a shortfall and this is where supplements can play a useful role.
3. Additional stressors
As if all the above isn’t bad enough, we have multiple stressors in our lives. This puts additional demands on our cells so they need an extra boost of goodness to get them through each day.
All stress, whether emotional, physical or environmental uses up body reserves of nutrients. This may be OK for the very short term but if we sustain stress, day-in day-out, this can cause deficiencies not too dissimilar to those when we eat a processed diet.
Emotional stress aside, the toxins in our water, food and air, cleaning and skin products etc add up to a pretty impressive (and frightening) load which the cells have to deal with.
It pays to go green in all corners of your life, not just food. It’s also well worth investing in a good quality water filter to minimise toxins getting into your body in the first place, and getting savvy about ingredients in toiletries and other household products too.
Minimising what’s going into your body is a positive step in the right direction but once again supplements can play a vital role in boosting our reserves.
As you can see from the above, with the best will in the world, it’s not always easy to get everything from your food thus supplements have a vital part to play in health.
It’s worth noting, though, that not all supplements are created equal.
You get what you pay for, so cheap products available in High Street stores and supermarkets are cheap for a reason. If you want great health, you need to buy good quality supplements.
It’s best to buy from a reputable company, which is dedicated to researching and making supplements of the highest quality.
The following are just two supplements worth considering
- A broad-spectrum multi vitamin / mineral formula to help bridge the gap
- A good probiotic formula to help maintain a healthy gut
Where there is a specific health issue, however, additional supplements would be beneficial but this is best discussed with a nutritionist.
References 1940 – 1991 Mineral Depletion Study – McCance and Widdowson Food Matters Video – interview with Charlotte Gerson
Judith Reid is a naturopathic nutritionist and passionate about all things natural, elephants, travel and dance. Judith’s philosophy in life is very much in taking personal responsibility for one’s own health and believes that living more naturally is common sense. To read more about Judith click here
Here at natural health star we’ve researched into high quality and effective vitamins and probiotics to meet your and your family’s needs. Take a look at these supplements in our natural health shop
What did you think of this post? If you liked it please SHARE the love.