In a perfect world, we would get all of our nutritional needs met by eating delicious whole foods. Yet by some estimates, 86% to 92% of us in the United States have at least one nutrient deficiency. What is robbing us of nutrients? The reasons are complex, but some of the top reasons we need supplementation today include homogenous diets, voluntary and involuntary dietary restrictions, soil depletion, and other environmental concerns.
1. Lack of diversity in foods
Food variety helps ensure we get all the micronutrients --vitamins and minerals--we need to stay healthy and balanced. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet generally consists of a large quantity of highly processed foods, and is notoriously low on potassium, vitamin D, calcium and fiber.
Common ingredients which make up this diet include corn, wheat, soy, and meat. While there is nothing necessarily inherently dietarily “wrong” with any of these ingredients, eating these foods at the exclusion of other, more nutrient-dense foods can result in deficiencies. The composition of what you’re eating over time matters.
Even if we are getting more variety than in the Standard American Diet, most of us tend to eat the same types of foods again and again. Most of us recognize we probably have certain nutrient shortfalls if we think about it. If you’ve found healthy foods you like to eat consistently, that’s great. But you may want to then supplement to ensure a richer variety of nutrients.
Additionally, getting the ideal levels of nutrients from food alone may be impractical. According to one source, if you wanted to get your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin E exclusively from sunflower seeds, for example, you’d have to eat 1½ pounds of those sunflower seeds every day. It’s not only impractical but unadvisable to eat large volumes of stand-alone foods, given how food works synergistically in the body. You need a variety of nutrients, working in concert, to create vitality.
2. Dietary restrictions like veganism, paleoism, gluten-free, etc.
Anyone on a restricted diet -- whether voluntary or perhaps at the advice of a medical professional -- should consider supplementation. Food allergies, food sensitivities, and personal beliefs change our dietary intake of specific nutrients.
In particular, vegetarians and vegans may be missing vitamin B12, since it naturally is derived from animal sources. Other areas that non-meat-eaters should watch: calcium, iron, and zinc.
Similarly, anyone who has gone gluten free should be aware that gluten free, commercial baked goods change dietary intake of nutrients. Many breads and wheat products are required to be “fortified” with iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin because of common nutrient deficiencies in the U.S. Unfortunately, the high amount of processing these food products go through destroys their nutrient value. Many readily available gluten-free products may be higher in salt, sugar, and fat as well. People with Celiac disease, wheat allergies, or sensitivities to gluten will need to find ways to increase intake of these nutrients through supplements or other food sources. It’s important to supplement from a trusted source and avoid highly refined food products -- whether they contain gluten or not.
If you’re on any particularly restrictive diet, you might want to consider if you are getting everything you need nutritionally.
3. Soil depletion
Modern agricultural practices aimed at maximizing crop production have drained soil of its nutrient content… which similarly depletes the nutrients available in our food today. As we’ve written about before, soil depletion means micronutrients are missing from our foods. The loss of biodiversity in soil harms the plant's health and creates a loss in nutrients.
Soil depletion means we’re all getting less of these important vitamins and minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamins B1-6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and zinc.
This is why we recommend buying organic and shopping at farmer’s markets to learn about how food was grown. Growing some of your own food in soil made rich with compost and manure could certainly help, too. However, we recognize that growing your own food, like cooking all your own meals, may or may not be a practical part of your life today.
Restoring organic matter and natural nutrient cycles in our ecosystem will take time. Until then, we can supplement to help make up for the shortfalls in our foods.
4. Other environmental reasons
Environmental toxins cause cancer and disrupt our endocrine systems, which are responsible for hormone production and cellular health. A toxic environment has the potential to negatively affect human development, reproduction, neurology, and immunity.
Naturally occurring environmental toxins include benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, and radon. Human-made chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides, and phthalates (which are used in plastics).
Our modern environment exposes us to many of these natural and human-made toxins on a daily basis. So we want to look for ways to reduce our risks. Taking charge of our health means supporting and protecting our cellular development before we even see a problem.
Personal reasons for using supplements vary. Taking supplements gives us an increased sense of well-being. We reach for them on a daily basis to support our energy levels, provide stress relief at the cellular level, and to proactively support our immune systems over time.
We believe natural supplementation using concentrated superfoods and adaptogens has simply become a necessary part of living a healthy lifestyle today. We hope you’ll join us in living the Almeda lifestyle -- one in which we aim to thrive, not merely survive.