Why a Healthy Diet Won’t Protect You From Nutrient Deficiencies
If we were writing this, say, over 100 years ago, the assertion that you can’t get the nutrients you need from food alone may not have been true. Today, sadly, it is.
In the last 100 years, the cultural and agricultural world we live in has become vastly different. Most of us no longer work outside, in the sun, doing physical labor, but instead we sit all day at desks, in rooms lit with artificial light, staring at screens which emit, you guessed it, artificial light. Bye-bye, vitamin D.
Our agricultural landscape has changed drastically, too. Industrial methods have stripped nutrients from the soil, leading to nutrient deficient food. Each new generation of bigger, faster-growing, pest-resistant crops sadly contains fewer nutrients than the one before it.
There have been studies on wheat and other plants that demonstrate the effects of soil depletion: Over the past 100 years, scientists have seen a 50% decline in protein stores in wheat, as well as a 22-29% decline in six different essential minerals. Riboflavin content alone has declined over 40% in the past century.
Fast Facts: A head of broccoli has about one-third the calcium it had in the 1950s. In just over 50 years, the nutritional value of our produce has plummeted.
17 Rounds of Antibiotics By Age 21?!
When you couple our sedentary lifestyles and nutrient-depleted foods with environmental stressors like pesticides, pollution, drugs, and more, the nutritional outlook isn’t pretty.
Consider this: By the time the average American reaches the age of 21, they have undergone 17 rounds of antibiotics. Antibiotics deplete calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K levels in the body, in addition to disrupting the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut.
You’d Have to Eat 15 Eggs Every Day to Get Enough Vitamin D
Now, more than ever, leading naturopaths and nutritionists are recommending nutritional supplements to their patients.
Seeing as you’d have to eat either 15 eggs, 45 ounces of yogurt or 4oz of sockeye salmon just to meet the RDA of vitamin D each day (600IU, a low estimate), diet doesn’t seem to be cutting it when it comes to fulfilling nutritional needs. Eating salmon every day does sound quite delicious, but who could afford that?
Supplements aren’t just filling nutritional gaps in our diets, they’re actually protecting our bodies against modern stressors. For example, studies have shown that vitamin A, C, E, and melatonin fortify our cells against organophospate pesticides.
Two Nutrients We Desperately Need: Vitamin C & B6
16 million Americans have low vitamin C levels, while a whopping 30 million are deficient in vitamin B6. Can you believe that? That’s tens of millions of Americans that aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals their bodies desperately need!
Vitamin C’s immune benefits are well-known, but did you know that vitamin C is a cofactor in the production of several mood-boosting neurotrasmitters as well, including dopamine and serotonin?
While your mind may go directly to fish oil or vitamin D when you think of supplements that help with happiness, vitamin C should snag a top spot on your list too.
Fast Facts: Vitamin C levels decline rapidly under both physical and mental stress (aka a typical Monday for many of us). That’s why it’s especially important to supplement with vitamin C when your world is out of whack!
Then there’s vitamin B6, the under appreciated B vitamin that does oh-so-much for our hearts, heads, energy, and moods. When cellular dysfunction sets in and our organs become irritated, B6 levels fall. It’s during these times of stress that our bodies are begging for B6.
To meet the RDA of vitamin B6, 1.5mg, you’d have to eat either 3 bananas, 12 tablespoons of roasted sunflower seeds, 3.5 cups of raw diced avocado, 3 cups sweet potatoes, 15 cups milk or 20 tablespoons of peanut butter. Sound like something you can stomach?
Nutritionists often recommend taking B6 as part of a B vitamin complex, as B2 (riboflavin) is needed to convert B6 to its active form in the liver.
Fast Facts: Women are twice as likely as men to be deficient in vitamin B6, possibly due to prolonged birth control use, as “the pill” has been pinned as yet another cause of nutrient depletion.