Do You Need Supplements?
MANY PEOPLE ASK me whether or not they need nutritional supplements if they eat a healthy diet. The next question that almost inevitably comes up is what they should take and where they can get high-quality supplements. When deciding whether you should supplement, it is best to understand what the word supplement means. It is defined as something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. When you think of this in terms of nutritional supplements, they are meant to enhance your health. In a perfect world, no one would need supplements. But given the stress of our modern life, the poor quality of our food supply, and the high load of toxins on our brains and bodies, most of us need a basic daily supply of the raw materials for all our enzymes and biochemistry to run as designed.
Most people don’t understand the role of vitamins and minerals in our bodies and thought if we just had enough to prevent us from some horrible deficiency state like scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), then you didn’t have to worry about how much you were getting. I also thought that if you ate “enriched food” like white flour with a few vitamins added back in, or milk with vitamin D added in, additional vitamin supplementation was a waste.
What most people don’t realize is the same thing I was unaware of is the real reason our food supply must be “enriched” is because it is has be so processed that it is “impoverished” to start with. Today, even with our “enriched food,” over 92 percent of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins. That doesn’t mean they are receiving less than the amount they need for optimal health. That means they receive less than the MINIMUM amount necessary to prevent deficiency diseases.
A USDA survey showed that 37 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin C, 70 percent not enough vitamin E, almost 75 percent don’t get enough zinc, and 40 percent don’t get enough iron. I would say 100 percent of us don’t have enough of the basic nutrients to create optimal health or give ourselves a metabolic tune up.
The foods you eat no longer contain the nutrient levels you require for optimal health for many reasons. Crops are raised in soil where nutrients have been depleted. Plants are treated with pesticides and other chemicals so they no longer have to fight to live, which further diminishes their nutrient levels and their phytonutrient content (not to mention the toxic exposure you receive from such chemicals). Animals are cooped up in pens or giant feedlots instead of roaming free eating the nutrient-rich wild grains and grasses they once consumed. Since cow’s stomachs are adapted to grass instead of corn, they must take antibiotics to prevent them from exploding.
To complicate this further all of us are exposed to hazardous toxins and chemicals that poison our bodies, we live with too much stress, we don’t sleep enough, we don’t exercise enough, and we are inflamed making the nutritional demands on our bodies even heavier. Those with chronic illnesses are in even worse shape. Nutrients are not drugs and they don’t work as drugs do. They work with your biology by supporting normal enzyme function and biochemical reactions.