While eating a clean diet full of high quality foods is of the utmost importance, is it truly enough? Can we get everything we need from the foods that we eat?
Both sides of the spectrum need to realize that yes you can't fix everything with a tablet. But that being said standing on top of your anti-supplement soapbox telling people to "stop being lazy and just eat good" might not check all the nutrition boxes.
1. Soil Depletion
In the last 100 years mineral content in the soil is down 85% (Rio Earth Summit 1992). Imagine what this number would be today?
There are dozens of essential minerals vital to human health. We somehow think that fertilizing the soil with 3 (potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus) is enough. These synthetic fertilizers give us the illusion of healthy crops, by supporting plant life until harvest, but in actuality they are greatly deficient in many vitamins and minerals.
Fewer nutrients in the soil results in fewer nutrients in you!
2. Your Eating a Low Calorie Diet
Yes it is true that in order you lose weight you need to eat a calorie deficit, but in doing so you are cutting yourself short in many the micronutrients needed for optimal health. This isn't even considering the quality of the food you are eating (see reason 3).
Some studies have shown that you need to consume north of 25,000 calories when following certain diet programs in order to reach the recommended daily allowances of most micronutrients. You can imagine how short individuals come if they are eating 1500 calories per day.
3. You Eat a Typical North American Diet
The typical North American diet is full preservatives, sugar, processed carbs and fats, fillers, artificial ingredients, and worst of all low in high quality nutrients. Some of these foods are not only void of certain nutrients but they may actually inhibit nutrient absorption. A double edged sword no doubt.
The North American food system is first and foremost a business with health trailing far behind. High quality nutrition is not a concern for most food manufacturers whether they are growing broccoli or baking cookies.
It is the sad state of reality that isn't going to change in the near future.
4. You Exercise Regularily
Training increases your energy output and your body must therefore boosts it's energy production. In order for this increase in energy production to occur your body increases it's demand for micronutrients. Think of it like driving a car, the faster you go the more gas (micronutrients) you burn.
The end result is that an increase in training volume may lead to a greater micronutrient deficiency, especially if weight loss is your goal.
5. Food Manufacturing and Transportation
The majority of foods, specifically fruits and vegetables, come far thousands of miles away. I live in Canada...no bananas growing here.
In order to prevent produce from rotting during it's travels it is typically harvested early in the growing process which does not allow the fruit or vegetable to reach full nutrient maturity. To go along with these lower nutrient foods, the second a food is harvested it's micronutrient potency begins to decline.
Once at it's final destination, which can take weeks or even months, a food may sit on the super market shelves for multiple days only to further lose it's already poor micronutrient levels.
There is a vast difference between local foods that are allowed to reach full ripeness, harvested, and eaten within a week vs food that has been harvested for weeks even months waiting to be consumed. Unfortunately most of us fall into the latter category.
6. Toxin Exposure & Stress
We live in a world of pollution, toxins, and chemicals. Everyday we are exposed to a variety of different toxins that end up decreasing the levels of micronutrients in our bodies.
Plastics, petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides, cleaners, solvents, air pollution, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately it is very difficult to escape our exposure to these toxins and rather we must find ways to "deal" with them so we can remain as healthy as possible.
As our bodies try to remove any toxins from our system it raises our stress levels. Increased stress means that your body needs to kick into "detox overdrive" resulting in the increased use of vitamins and minerals.
Think of drinking alcohol. You drink lots, your body does not have all the nutrients needed to metabolize the toxin, and you get a wicked hangover.
Simply put...toxin exposure increases our need for proper nutrition. And due to many of the reasons listed above it is difficult to get the proper nutrition from food.
7. Your Ability to Absorb Nutrients Declines With Age
However you want to slice it...we do not absorb nutrients as well when we get older.
8. Your Digestion is Poor
Consuming intolerable foods can both damage your digestive lining, leading to a leaky gut, and inhibit your ability to absorb nutrients. Both of which will contribute to a micronutrient deficiency.
9. RDA's Are Not Enough
There is a huge difference between RDA levels of nutrition and levels of nutrition that is optimal for human health and performance. Check out some crazy stats here!
If you are relying strictly on the RDA for your vitamins and minerals needs, you are coming up short.
In my opinion, the idea that we can rely on food for all our nutritional needs is unfortunately a romantic dream. Due to the current state of food manufacturing, the consumption of processed foods, and the increased demand we put on ourselves by the lifestyle choices we make, we are continually deficient in many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Knowing that virtually every disease can be traced back to a micronutrient deficiency of some kind, this is a trembling thought that we somehow continue to sweep under the rug.
Don't get me wrong, supplements should be treated/used for exactly what they are designed for, to supplement your diet. This means that first and foremost you need to focus on eating high quality whole foods that provide your body with the best nutrition available to you.
However, after your diet is nailed down turning to high quality nutritional supplements can be one of the most effective, efficient, affordable ways to reach optimal health so that you can...
...Live Your Best Life!