Bridging The Gap
Nutritional Supplementation has been a fundamental part of my on-going health journey. I became even more fascinated when I studied each vitamin and mineral closely in nutrition school. They're a crutial component to our bodily functions and therefore we have a great dependency on them, particularily as a defense against illness and disease. There is no better way to attain and utilize our nutrients than from a variety of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and meat.
Vitamins and Minerals are involved in the release of energy from digested foods. Strong, lasting energy levels are good indicators of healthy vitamin and mineral intake. Our brain function, ability to concentrate, and memory require proper levels of these nutrients. Even our appearance can appreciate the benefits - luminous skin and elasticity, luscious hair, and strong finger nails reflect our internal nutrient status. More importantly though, it is our immune system that relies heavily on a constant supply of these essential nutrient so it can perform its many disease-protecting functions effortlessly.
Most of us do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone and therefore struggle to keep our bodies reserves up. A deficiency of a vitamin or mineral can cause a body part to malfunction and eventually break down. This will have an accumulative effect towards other body organs as well. Insufficient vitamin intake has been the cause of many chronic diseases. Though some of us may argue that we can obtain all of them from food, studies have shown evidence that many of us are nutrient deprived and fall short of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). This may seem quite ironic considering that North America is leading as the most obese nation in the world. So, clearly we are not starving here - but our bodies are malnourished all the same. Lets look at some of the reasons why we are so prone to deficiencies:
- Processed foods - These are usually packaged and more 'convenient' to the consumer, yet very low on the nutritional profile. Our bodies do not recognize these as 'food' and will burden our digestive system instead which can lead to a leaky gut, candida, and sugar imbalances.
- Antibiotics and pharmaceuticals - Frequent use can impair our digestion by wiping out the beneficial bacteria that naturally reside in the intestines. The microflora in our gut serve important functions such as boosting immunity and aiding with digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Environmental Factors - Herbicides and pesticides are used on crop leaving them with low nutritional value.
- Poor lifestyle habits - Smoking, alcohol and caffeine can prevent the absorption of vitamins and minerals or accelerate the loss of them.
- Food ommission - Allergies to food, crash dieting, and even vegetarian diets omit important sources of nutrients.
- Crop nutrient loss - Our overworked soils are minerally depleted and will affect our food's nutrient levels.
- Stress - Physical, mental, and emotional stress will use up the body's reserves faster and increase the body's need for more.
There are effecive ways to prevent and fill nutritional gaps and build up your body's reserves. Your local health food store will carry a large variety of multi-vitamins and minerals as well as individualized nutrients. It's important to remember that vitamins and minerals should not be viewed as independent substantances, but rather as a network of nutrients working together. If one nutrient is missing, it throws the entire team of nutrients out of balance. That being said, I also encourage the intake of specific vitamins in higher doses, such as vitamin D, particularily in individuals who avoid the sun and endure long winters. The best approach is to consume multi-vitamins which are combined in the right proportions because they work best when consumed together.
Over the years, I have become very familiar with a variety of vitamins that are on the market and have tried many of them. Few are effective while others are a waste of money. The most common formulations that you'll most likely come across are isolated, or chelated vitamins. These are usually produced in the laboratory and contain synthetic compounds, binders and fillers, and are capable of causing discomfort to the consumer due to chemical sensitivities while preventing complete utilization of the nutrients themselves.
Fortunately, our healthfood stores have more to offer in that department - Whole food vitamins have become the most preferred supplementation by those who are eager to take a leap towards improved health. These vitamins are extracted from living foods that have been compressed into tablet form, poured into capsules or powdered. The word “whole” indicates that the end product does not contain synthetic or isolated vitamins. Many formulations are individually cultivated enabling targeted delivery of nutrients which are recognized by the body as food. They consist of organic fruit and vegetables delivering living enzymes and probiotics that are uncooked, untreated and unadulterated without added binders and fillers. In addition, whole food vitamins consciously avoid common allergens such as corn, soy, gluten, dairy and fructose.
Medical science is constantly reminding us of the remarkable benefits of whole-food consumption. While some may struggle to commit to eating nutrient rich meals, taking a daily multivitamin can assist by filling any nutritional gaps that may result from poor dietary habits. Ultimately though, it is wholesome eating we need to rely on in order to utilize important nutrients. Supplementation alone cannot replace this - in fact, we require food to best absorb any additional vitamins we take. A daily multivitamin formulated at 100% Daily Value can effectively decrease and reverse vitamin deficiencies and improve micronutrient status which may reduce many chronic diseases.