Although some doctors cling to the mistaken belief that supplements are unnecessary for everyone, since “we should be able to get all nutrients we need from food”, for most people this just isn’t the truth.
Four Reasons A Healthy Diet Isn’t Enough
1. Depleted soils in farmland have reduced the concentration of micronutrients in many foods, as compared to what they were several generations ago.
2. Use of pesticides and herbicides has further reduced nutritional quality.
3. Stress depletes vitamins and minerals at an accelerated rate. Our busy lives, particularly for those of us in large cities like Hong Kong, tend to induce chronic stress.
4. Prescription drug use has grown over the last few decades, and these prescriptions can frequently deplete nutrient levels. For example, taking birth control pills can deplete B vitamins, magnesium, and several other vitamins and minerals. Here are some other examples.
In 2014, the The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) published the results of the First Hong Kong Total Diet Study (HKTDS).
Among other conclusions in the section of the report on Minerals was:
“The dietary intakes of calcium, iron and potassium of the general adult population were inadequate when compared to the respective recommended
intakes while the dietary intake of sodium of the general adult population was in excess when compared to the recommended intake.”
Avoiding Supplements Through Diet?
If you feel you want to avoid taking supplements, you’ll need to pay special attention to managing diet (and stress, both emotional and enviornmental). In addition, you’ll want to “eat the rainbow”, consuming a wide variety of foods, particularly produce. Of course, making choices to purchase organic foods will reduce the toxins your body has to deal with, and so reduce the overall quantity of nutrients you’ll need.
Who Needs Vitamin And Mineral Supplementation The Most
Even if you prefer to avoid taking supplements, there are certain people and certain times in your life where it may become necessary.
Pregnant women are advised to follow their doctor’s recommendation about supplements, to help support their health through pregnancy and give their child a healthy start in life. Pre-natal supplements reduce the stress of pregnancy on a woman’s body and ensure that the child has the nutrients required for both development and avoiding birth defects.
MTHFR And Other Genetic Issues
There are also significant numbers of the population with a genetic need for supplementation. Because of advances in genetic testing, we can now identify if you have the gene that makes it difficult to absorb enough Vitamin D, or the genetic mutation that causes up to 40% of the population to have difficulty absorbing certain B vitamins.
Correcting these conditions with vitamin supplements can resolve long-standing health issues such as fatigue or depression, and help prevent future problems including heart disease or even some types of cancer.
As we age, our bodies may have difficulty absorbing enough of the nutrients we need. The right vitamins and minerals can be an important part of anti-aging therapies.
Of course, supplements can interact with medications and other health issues. It’s always wise to consult with your doctor before adding a supplement or making a major dietary change.