I get asked this question a lot, as naturally some people question whether food supplements such as vitamins, minerals, etc are really needed or are just a fad, a con and a total waste of money. It’s a fair question given that mankind has survived and thrived for the majority of its time on this planet without taking modern supplements.
So what’s different now? Well one of the main changes is in the way we grow our food now compared to 100 years ago. Modern intensive farming focuses on prioritising high and fast yields at any cost, uses chemical pesticides and fertilisers and is based on monoculture.
Monoculture is the agricultural practice of growing a single crop over a wide area of land for a large number of consecutive years. The problem is, when the same crop is grown in the same soil year after year, the soil becomes worn out and depleted in minerals. In the past, with traditional farming, farms were smaller and tended to grow a wider range of different crops and rotated the crops grown in each field to nourish and protect the soil. They used organic compost and natural pest control methods.
Intensive modern farming practices have had a devastating impact on the quality and health of our soils globally. In fact, farmers are well aware that our soils are dying! This is of huge importance to us, because human health is intimately connected to the health of the earth’s soil. Common minerals found in soil are iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulphur. The mineral depletion of the soil means that all crops grown in depleted soil are also mineral depleted. Our fruit and vegetables and grains may look nice but they are lacking in nutrients and they also don’t taste as good as they used to!
The overall effect is that it’s become harder for us to obtain the nutrients we need purely from the food we eat, and this is having a damaging effect on human health.
Nutrient deficiencies are, far more common than people think! Mineral deficiencie’s in particular are very common these days and I’ve worked with many clients who have physical symptoms due to these nutrient deficiencies.
For example, I have found magnesium deficiency to be widespread and signs of this can include anxiety, sleep problems and muscle cramps.
Chronically low magnesium levels in the body have also been linked to a wide range of health problems, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and migraine headaches.
I’ve worked with many people, with a wide range of symptoms, who have greatly benefited from supplementation with the nutrients they are lacking and there is no doubt that sometimes supplements are necessary to restore bodily homeostasis.
Saying that, supplementation is clearly not a solution to a really bad diet, or very unhealthy lifestyle, and the foundation of health is definitely to start with a nutrient rich diet based on whole, natural, unprocessed foods with supplements being an addition to the healthy food choices you make. My advice is to take them only if, and when, you need them and ideally on professional recommendation from your nutritionist, naturopath or another health professional.