Why do I need supplement when I eat a well balanced diet?
My diet will provide all the necessary nutrients I need so why do I need to take extra pills?
These are common questions our naturopaths get asked so why would we commonly prescribe supplements?
In ideal circumstances our diet may be ideal – we purchase fresh organic produce, prepare each balanced meal thoughtfully and eat in a relaxed manner in a pristine environment; but in reality, living in the 21st century may require some extra nutritional support to thrive. Here are some common reasons why:
1. Poor digestion – you may not chew well enough (when eating too quickly or with poor fitting dentures) and many people, particularly older folk have reduced enzyme secretion to enable proper digestion of their food.
2. Reduced quality of food – our soil is depleted in essential nutrients due to modern agricultural practices. Organic food may be a better source of trace minerals, but may be out of reach financially or be inconvenient to purchase fresh regularly.
3. Reduced sunlight exposure due to indoor work, covering due to religious reasons, sun avoidance and having genetic variation that reduces absorption of vitamin D and use of sunscreen leading to the common incidence of vitamin D deficiency.
4. Bio-individuality – there are wide fluctuations in nutrient requirements depending on occupation, age and amount of exercise e.g. athletes and manual labourers and those with genetic predispositions that require extra nutrients.
5. Increased requirements like children who are fussy eaters, pregnant women, teenagers and the elderly (especially when their appetite and interest in food preparation decreases).
6. Overcooking – lengthy cooking destroys heat-sensitive nutrients such as Vitamin C, B group vitamins and Vitamin E. Boiling veggies leach water soluble vitamins Bs and C. Light steaming or quick stir frying of veggies is preferable.
7. Food Storage – lengthy storage or exposure to heat (e.g. nuts or oils lose vitamin E with heat and light exposure) or light and freezing depletes nutrients. 50% of the vitamin C in fresh orange juice is lost after 2 minutes after squeezing. Oranges lose vitamin C sitting in the supermarket and in your fruit bowl so a typical orange may have anywhere between 0-100mg of vitamin C depending how long ago it was hanging on the tree. Fresh is best.
8. Medications – overuse of laxatives hastens transit time and results in poorer absorption of nutrients and loss of electrolytes and some mineral oil based ones increase fat soluble vitamin loss. Antibiotics reduce friendly bacteria in the gut that manufacture B vitamins, so probiotics and sometimes B supplements are indicated. Statin medications to reduce cholesterol can deplete CoQ10 levels and cause muscle pain. Oral contraceptives increases zinc and B vitamin requirements.
9. Restrictive diets e.g low fat diets can reduce absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D E and K; vegetarians may need extra zinc and iron, and vegans also may need to take B12.
10. Depletion through lifestyle choices such as alcohol intake (increases vitamin B, A, C and minerals Mg, Zinc and Calcium requirements): caffeine (increases excretion of B vitamins and Magnesium); and smoking – depletes Vitamin C and the heavy metals contained in cigarettes deplete important nutrients like zinc.
11. Scourges of Modern society like stress (depletes Magnesium, C and B Vitamins); poor food choices, lack of time to prepare balanced meals and increased intake of convenience food can lead to multiple deficiencies.
12. Food Allergies – Omissions in whole food groups like gluten and dairy, or when avoiding FODMAPs, salicylates, histamine containing foods etc. can reduce some important vitamin and mineral intake as well as negatively affecting the gut microbiome due to reduced beneficial fibres.
If you need some professional assistance to get on track, call 93310951 to make a time with one of our qualified Naturopaths. Mention this post for 10% off any supplements purchased with any consultation until the end of February 2019.