It is often said that food is the best source of nutrients, and that is a true statement. The nutrients in food are generally more bioavailable than those in dietary supplements. Food undoubtedly also contains micronutrients that scientists have not yet identified that are crucial for good health.
That said, I believe that nutritional supplements are valuable as a form of insurance policy, to ensure you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and trace elements in your diet.
This can be important for maintaining a healthy weight. If a person is not getting the right nutrients, the body will compensate by forcing you to overeat to supply the missing nutrients.
But the question arises, if you eat a balanced diet, why not get enough nutrients? There are a number of reasons. Let’s start with the most obvious.
THE MODERN DIET
The modern diet consists largely of grains, beans and carrots. Compared to plants that grow above the ground, fruits, nuts and lean protein sources, these food sources are low in vitamins and minerals.
To make matters worse, over the past fifty years, more and more of our food has been increasingly processed, eliminating the little nutritional value the food could have contained. McDonald’s burger, anyone?
When you smoke, you consume vitamins and minerals that are cannibalized by the chemical processes inherent in smoking. The reason this happens is that smoking generates large amounts of free oxygen radicals. Nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C are used by the body to neutralize these free radicals and thus become depleted.
In an animal study published by The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, smoking was shown to cause depletion of vitamin A, leading to emphysema.
In a study at Columbia University, New York, smokers and non-smokers were given supplements of vitamin C and vitamin E and their plasma levels were monitored for 6 days. The scientists concluded that smoking depletes vitamin C and vitamin E.
Recreational drugs such as marijuana, speed, crack, heroin and alcohol can also have analogous effects in terms of vitamin depletion.
Today, food products are often irradiated to improve their shelf life. According to a report by a Joint FAP/IAEA/WHO Study Group, this leads to loss of nutrients, especially vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12. In addition, this effect is exacerbated by the longer storage time to which these foods are exposed.
Industrial pollution causes the formation of free radicals, which can lead to cell damage, one of the main causes of premature aging. While there’s not much you can do about pollution, taking antioxidant supplements can help fight free radicals. For example, a review of randomized controlled trials published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, the journal of the College of Optometrists, found that taking antioxidant supplements reduced the incidence and/or severity of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss for people older than age. age 50 in the developed world. This is not surprising, as it is recognized that oxidation is at least partially responsible for many degenerative eye conditions.
The pesticides commonly used in agriculture to control pests reduce the nutritional value of the crops. A review of 41 published studies conducted by nutritionist Virginia Worthington found that organic crops (that use no pesticides) produced 27% more vitamin C, 29.3% more magnesium, 13.6% more phosphorus and 21.1% more iron. than their conventionally grown counterparts.
According to a study by David Thomas, soil mineral content on farms in the United States decreased significantly between 1940 and 1991, with vegetables harvested in 1991 containing 76% less copper, 46% less calcium, 27% less iron and 24% less. magnesium than their 1940 counterparts (Nutrition and Health 2003; 17:85-115).
Why did this happen? According to Dr. William A. Albrecht, chair of the Department of Soil Science at the University of Missouri, “Do NPK formulas, as legally determined and enforced by the state departments of agriculture, mean malnutrition, insect, bacterial and fungal infestation, weed take-over, crop loss in dry weather and general loss of mental acuity in the population, leading to degenerative metabolic disease and early death.”
By NPK formulas, Dr. Albrecht on the general use of inorganic fertilizers, which have existed since the 1920s and consist mainly of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, to which calcium and iron have sometimes been added. Essential trace elements, which would be replaced if organic fertilizers were used, never return to the soil.
As you can see, there are many reasons why eating a balanced diet may not be enough to provide a person with adequate nutrition. Food quality is not the same as it was 50 years ago, and modern environmental and lifestyle factors can also deplete our bodies of nutrients.
Therefore, it is a good idea to take nutritional supplements to ensure adequate nutrition.