3 Reasons Why I Take Supplements
Kale. Coconut oil. Green juice. Never before have so many Americans been focused on the quality of their food: nutrient-dense and clean ingredients; certified-organic and non-GMO products. More than ever, people believe that eating good food is the pathway to good health. And for some, it’s natural to assume: ‘If I eat a healthy diet, I don’t need to take supplements.’ However, that's simply not the case… anymore.
Scientists define a vitamin as a compound essential for life. And since your body cannot manufacture most of these vitamins on its own, they can come only from the food you eat every day. Yet, it has been well documented that our food supply isn't as rich in nutrients as it once was.
The idea that you can get all of your key nutrients from diet alone may have been true 50 years ago when homegrown and locally-sourced foods from small-scale farms was not only prevalent, it was the way of life. That was the good life.
But now? The nature of our food, and how we obtain it, has changed dramatically. As a result, 9 out of 10 Americans are now lacking key nutrients in their diet.
And if that doesn’t open your eyes to the health crisis we’re experiencing as a nation, this might: The U.S. leads the world in deaths caused by degenerative diseases. The very name given to such diseases – DEGENERATIVE - indicates a nutritional deficiency. Yes, nutritional deficiency undermines the health of our first-world country. We are over-fed and under-nourished.
While there are many reasons why we can benefit from supporting our body’s cells with supplemental nutrition, here are my top 3 reasons for supplementing...
1. Soil and Nutrient Depletion.
Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today are lower in vitamins and minerals than those our grandparents ate. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that compared USDA nutritional data on 43 vegetables and fruits in 1950 and 1999 found that the foods showed up to 38% declines in protein, calcium, potassium, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid. According to researcher Donald Davis, additional nutrients not studied in 1950 — magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B6 and E — also have likely declined.
2. Premature Harvesting and Longer Transportation Time.
Our produce is being harvested earlier to accommodate longer transports in both national and global agriculture. There are two real issues here…
Premature harvesting: Think of a plant attached to its vine like a baby attached to its umbilical cord. The vine is the nutrient source. It brings nutrients up from the soil through the roots and draws minerals into the fruit of the plant. The problem that we now face is that our fruits and vegetables are being harvested prematurely and then falsely ripened with ethane gasses en route to your local supermarket. Premature harvesting reduces the time the plant stays on its vine causing less nutrients to get from the soil to the plant.
Transportation time: Nutrients in plants begin declining the moment they are picked from their vine - essentially, this is when the plant begins rotting due to rapid nutrient declines since it’s no longer attached to its nutrient source - the vine! The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate. The broccoli you buy in February was probably grown in California or Mexico and spent a week or so in the bed of an 18-wheeler before you bought it. Conventional food can spend as many as 7-14 days in transit before it arrives in the supermarket. Our ever-expanding food system is causing us to miss out on valuable nutrients because of the times it takes to get from farm to fork.
3. Food Contamination and Environmental Chemicals.
Simply living in the modern world negatively impacts nutrient levels because daily bombardment with environmental toxins makes our body’s detoxification system work harder and can rapidly deplete our nutrient levels. Trends in agriculture include chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, modern growing techniques, while carcinogenic chemicals are also being loaded into our household products and personal care products. Some exposure is unavoidable. Supplementing with nutrients to support the body’s natural defense systems can provide a shield for the average person.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Before you throw your hands up on healthy eating altogether, know that you have power when it comes to nourishing your cells and impacting the future of modern agriculture.
Here are three things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most nutrition:
1. Supplement wisely.
When I became a nutritionist, I vowed to help my clients get their best nutrition from food first, because no amount of supplements will ever replace a healthy diet. And although I believe in meeting our nutritional requirements as best we can through our food choices, supplementation is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. Check out my 4 Must-Have Supplements here.
2. Buy local or sign up for a CSA.
Locally grown foods have less transportation time from farm to table, and small-scale farms generally support regenerative agriculture practices. Local foods don’t require preservatives or premature harvesting, and therefore are fresher and have greater nutritional profiles. Sourcing local foods is also an act of voting with your dollar. By supporting local agriculture, you’re investing in your community AND earth-friendly farming. You can find your nearby farms, farmer’s markets, and CSA’s on Local Harvest.
3. Choose organic.
Rich in trace minerals and other phytonutrients, healthy soil naturally boosts plants’ immunity, believed to contribute to higher nutrient levels in organic foods. A 2014 review of research published in the British Journal of Nutrition confirmed that organic foods contain higher concentrations of antioxidants on average than conventionally grown foods—and that conventional foods contain greater concentrations of pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium.
Organic agriculture preserves biodiversity, improves soil health and saves energy. But less than one percent of our farmland is dedicated to growing organic crops. If we invested more in organic farming, we’d not only protect the environment, but we’d make organic food more affordable and accessible for everyone – meaning more clean, healthy food for our families, grown right here in the United States.
Now I would love to hear from you... what drives your decision to nourish your cells? Share with me in the comments below!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Do not use the information provided in this document for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.