Find out if nutritional supplements are truly necessary for good health and whyNutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals taken to improve diet and health, are becoming more and more popular in today’s society. Many people, looking for some way to improve health and wellness, have turned to nutritional supplements for help. This trend has created an endless supply of nutritional supplements and brands advertising them in slightly different, supposedly better forms. Is it simply a useless fad? Or do people really need nutritional supplements to improve their health? The fact is that, due to eating habits, food quality, and other environmental factors in our society, nutritional deficiency is a reality that is difficult to avoid. Taking nutritional supplements is necessary to combat nutritional deficiency.Modern eating habits have created a need for Nutritional SupplementsEating habits have changed dramatically over the last century. Low in nutrients but extremely high in convenience, fast food has become a daily part of life for many people. Fresh foods are preferable, but not always easy to obtain or convenient to use. Even the healthiest individuals find it nearly impossible to get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients from dietary sources alone. Very few people actually consume the seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables that they should a day. Nutritional supplements can fill in important gaps in a normal diet. The vitamins and minerals that they contain contribute to overall health and a strong immune system. Keep in mind, however, that nutritional supplements only supplement a diet, they do not replace it.Nutritional Supplements and the decreasing quality of foodAs eating habits have slowly become worse, so has the quality of the food itself. It is nearly impossible for the average person to obtain the proper amounts of vitamin and minerals from modern processed food that is packed full of sugar and fat. Even vegetables and fruits are of a lower standard. In 1992, the United Nations Earth Summit found that vegetables naturally containing vitamins and minerals like copper, potassium, boron, magnesium, and bioflavonoids contain dramatically less than they did fifty years ago. Such diminished levels of vitamins and minerals can be made up for through the use of nutritional supplements. Not doing so can lead to nutritional deficiency and a slew of completely avoidable health problems.Other environmental factors and Nutritional SupplementsUnfortunately, our society and culture produce other factors that can be damaging to health. These include high levels of stress and pollution. Both can weaken the immune system and make people vulnerable to sicknesses that could be combated if the body was stronger. Nutritional supplements help the body’s immune system continue functioning at peak levels of performance and thereby protect itself from the constant bombardment of disease that we all face.Taking nutritional supplements helps the body maintain a healthy, efficient immune system. This, in turn, protects the body from harmful effects and diseases brought on by factors like eating habits, food quality, and our stress filled environment.
It is not news to many people that processed foods lack many vitamins and other important nutrients. Experts say that processed food often lacks nutrition because many of the processing methods use heat which destroys a number of nutritional substances. If your diet is dependent on processed fruits and vegetables in either cans or microwave ready to serve meals, the vegetables you eat are lacking in vitamins and other nutrients that were originally in the vegetables. Of course, there is no way we can really know how much nutrition was originally in the vegetables. However, if you eat “fresh” fruits and vegetables meaning those in the produce aisle of the supermarket, how do they stack up as far as their nutritional value?This is a serious question because there have been explosive increases in numerous common health disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune diseases over the last 30 to 40 years. If you were to graph the increases in common health disorders and then graph the decreases in vital nutrients such as antioxidants, other vitamins, minerals and glyconutrients, you could compare the 2 graphs and they would appear be the exact inverse of each other. The higher prevalence of common health disorders would be associated with the lower levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.However, this is not a trend seen only in the U.S. One study conducted in Canada looked at the nutritional content of food grown in the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. The study revealed information that was very similar to analyzes performed in the United States and the United Kingdom. The results clearly showed that there have been significant reductions in vital nutrients as indicated by food tables created by governmental agencies at those times. In one study, the estimated reduction in vitamin C was about 50% between 1950 and 1990 with a number of different vegetables tested. The one that had lost the most nutritional value was broccoli.Yet, we are being told to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for good health. If fresh fruits and vegetables are deficient in nutritional value, is that really enough for us to eat or can we really even eat enough vegetables during meals to provide a sufficient amount of nutrition for good health? Probably not . And it would be naive to think that the lack of nutrition in fruits and vegetables and the increased prevalence of common health disorders is not related.Nutritional research has found people with specific health problems to be deficient in certain nutrients. In 1996, The Sullivan Study of Arthritis and Rheumatism concluded that low levels of glycoproteins may eventually make the immune system vulnerable. The study discovered that 100% of patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, (SLE) who added glyconutrient supplements to their diets reported a significant reduction in all of their lupus symptoms. Lupus is considered to be an immune dysfunction and it can be helped by supporting the immune system with specific nutrients.There are a number of reasons that have been hypothesized for the decline in nutritional value of our fresh fruits and vegetables including:Modern Farming Methods:Methods employed by large corporate farms that are the mainstay of our food supply in America have changed the way that land is farmed for economic reasons. Rather than leaving fields “fallow” or uncultivated which is an important step in allowing the soil to rejuvenate so it can grow healthy food, fields are continually planted. Even crop rotation which has been a mainstay of family farms for centuries may cost more than simply throwing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into the soil and keep on farming. Those 3 minerals will grow vegetables that will look fine but when they are actually analyzed they are missing vital nutrients that the human body needs. These vegetables may be little more than fiber and water.Picking Fruits and Vegetables Before They Are Ripe:In addition to modern farming methods, picking vegetables and fruits before they are ripe is a common practice now because they are being shipped thousands of miles before they get to the supermarket. There is no way that these fragile fruits and vegetables can make the trip before they start rotting so they are picked before they are ripe. The problem is that vital nutrients never form. Only vegetables allowed to fully ripen on the vine have the full amount of phytonutrients that the plant produces. In addition to vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients are another class of plant nutrients that are essential for good health. Examples of other phytonutrients are lycopene and lutein. In fact, researchers continue to discover biochemicals in fruits and vegetables that are found to be important to good health. If produce is picked too early, these important vital nutrients never fully form.Conclusion: We produce an amazing amount of food in the United States that feeds a hungry world population that is growing by leaps and bounds by the hour. Family farmers should be applauded for the work that they do to feed the rest of us and they know how to produce food that is full of the nutrition that we need to stay healthy. It is the large corporations that have set up these huge corporate farms that may be more responsible for these changes in farming methods that may be affecting nutrition. Hopefully, there can be answers found that can continue to help feed a hungry world without sacrificing the nutritional value of our food supply. Until that can happen, it is wise to consider taking natural nutritional supplements to make up for the shortfall in nutrition that we are experiencing with fresh fruits and vegetables.