Supporting a Healthy Diet with Supplements
In order for the body to thrive, an assortment of vitamins and minerals is needed to ensure proper cell development. These essential nutrients maintain the functions of our immune system, brain, nerves, muscles, bones, mental health – basically all of our body’s abilities!
In nature, all these minerals and vitamins are available to us in edible sources. So, why would there be a need for supplements?
Sadly, we no longer collect our food naturally. Food, in order to have the nutrients we need, should be consumed in its most natural state. Local, organic and pasture-fed food sources are best for overall nutrition.
Unfortunately, these are not the most readily available types of food for most people in our fast-paced society. We now mainly depend on grocery stores and food chains to provide our food for us, all packaged and ready to eat. Our modern lifestyle has caused a demand for mass agriculture and transport of produce to be done in the quickest, most efficient way possible.
The consequence of mass agriculture is that our food now has less vitamin and mineral content than it did decades ago.
Agriculture and Soil Depletion
A common ingredient in agricultural pesticides is called glysophate, an element which is said to restrict nutrient utilization. This factor is believed to be cause a reduction of vitamin and minerals in vegetables and the soil.
The soil is also further depleted of nutrients through industrial, intensive agriculture. Modern agricultural methods strip the top soil of its nutrients faster than it can be replenished. This reduction of nutrients is then passed on to the food we eat.
Pollution & Free Radicals
It’s no secret that pollution is an adverse side effect of our modern lifestyle. Contaminants accumulate in our environment from trash, gas pollution, plastic and even in seemingly innocent things like personal care products, makeup and clothing.
In response to environmental toxins, our bodies produce free radicals which are known to cause aging, cancer and many other diseases.
Free radical molecules are missing an atom or two and this causes them to aggressively attack other molecules to replace what is missing. This process is called ‘oxidation’, hence why we need anti-oxidants to prevent free radical damage.
Our bodies are equipped with anti-oxidant capabilities. However, an extra boost may be needed when there is an environmental toxin overload or when, over time, there is a high accumulation of toxins in the body.
Because of these factors, a multivitamin is a good idea to cover all of your nutrient bases. But supplements are complimentary to a healthy diet rather than a substitute for it, and it is always advised to consult with a health professional before taking vitamins and mineral supplements.
Progressive Naturals has formulations that contain basic vitamins and minerals as well as extra features such as anti-oxidant support and green food concentrates. They have special formulations for men, women and children and for those with an active lifestyle. A pre-natal formulation is also available to support the extra nutritional needs of pregnant women.
Platinum Naturals also has a vegan-friendly multivitamin formula to complement a strict vegetarian diet. Vegans may need extra support for iron, B12 and omega-3 fats.
Greens & Antioxidants
Botanica Greens is a really great value green supplement. This formulation is organic and non-GMO, which would be perfect for those with a busy lifestyle who may not have time to always get organic plants into their diet.
This is a powder formulation which can be mixed into water or a smoothie. This nutrient dense formula contains land and sea greens (which are rich in important minerals like iodine) and also has the added benefit of anti-oxidants from fruits and berries.
Another powdered whole food supplement is the Progressive Phytoberry Antioxidant. This is an all-natural formulation offering antioxidant protection with the nutrient content of 6-8 pieces of fruit in one serving.
Common Nutrient Deficiencies
Some natural health doctors believe that we are seeing a rise in disease due to improper diets and nutrient deficiencies associated with mineral and vitamin depletion in our food sources.
This is not at all an exhaustive list of deficiencies. Check with your health professional to find out which supplements might be helpful for you.
Magnesium is believed by some researchers to be a major nutrient for health and disease prevention. Human proteins contain 3,751 binding sites for magnesium, indicating that it is an important mineral for our body.
Magnesium deficiency is related to a vast range of problems including fatigue, depression, heart disease, infertility and pre-menstrual cramps.
We should be getting magnesium from dark green, chlorophyll-rich plants. However, this is not always possible and a supplement may be considered. Magnesium citrate is said to be the most bioavailable supplement form. For instance, many people have reported positive results from the Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate Powder.
Did you know that we need to get Omega 3 and Omega 6 in a certain ratio? Most people consume too much Omega 6, which comes from processed vegetable oil sources, and not enough Omega 3.
Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory agents that help lower the risk of disease due to inflammation. They are also said to support brain and heart development.
Fish oil supplements are a popular way to ensure adequate Omega 3’s and sardine oil is said to be a good quality option. Botanica Key Omegalicious Key Lime Twist Ultra High Potency Fish Oil is non-GMO and a blend of sardine and anchovy oils.
For those who are squeamish about taking oil, capsule forms are available such as the Renew Life Norwegian Gold Super Critical Omega. And for vegans, the Platinum Life EasyMulti Vegan contains Omega 3 from hemp oil.
There is much talk these days about unhealthy gut flora, meaning not there is not enough beneficial bacteria in the stomach to combat the disease-causing bacteria. Once again, this is believed to be caused by not eating enough whole, organic foods.
For those worried about not being able to consume enough natural probiotics in their diets such as fermented vegetables or have had to take antibiotics recently, a supplement such as the Renew Life Flora Smart Regular Strength might be worth considering.
Food is always the top option for obtaining our required nutrients. However, due to pollution, intense agriculture and a busy lifestyle, we may not be getting the amounts we need. Until we can get back on track to more natural and local food sources and a healthier environment, vitamin and mineral supplementation may be a good idea.
Brittany is a Canadian blogger and artist inspired by nature and the seasons. She is a lover of forests, folklore, slow living, old teacups & books.