You don't get enough
vitamins in your food
Myth: Vitamins are a waste of money and all the nutrition you could ever need is in your food.
I bet you've heard that before. Heck, even I used to believe it before I learned. Here are my thoughts on why we need to supplement our diets with appropriate vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements.
Although this sounds like good logic on the surface, let's follow the white rabbit together. I admit back when everyone was eating locally grown and home-made food day in and day out, maybe that was true. But those were the glory days for food quality. And they are over.
These days, take a moment to consider the food you eat and where you source it.
- Let's face it... most of us are not eating 8-10 servings of fresh fruits and veggies per day in the first place. If you are not choosing to plate the food with the nutrition your body needs need, how could it be in your diet? Don't fight me on this, just be honest with yourself: is this is you? I know it's me on some days.
- Grocery store produce are products of modern agricultural practice. They have to be up to a certain commercial standard in order for the stores to even stock them. They are the products of profitable agriculture - grown in cheaper depleted soils and there is far less nutrition in them than there was 50-100 years ago. [Don't believe this? Check out this 2004 landmark study: PMID: 15637215]. Of course, you could buy certified organic and avoid all the pesticides, chemicals, GMOs, and thereby avoid part of the problem... but honestly, who here in St. John's buy's 100% organic? I know I don't, it's not always available and the cost is prohibitive. So even the fruits and veggies are nutrient dense enough for you to be hitting optimal nutrition targets. (This same argument can apply to omega-3 content in our food supply - even if you do eat fish traditionally high in this critical fat, today's food just doesn't have the same levels it used to. Consider the health/nutrition of farmed versus wild salmon for example.)
- Chain restaurants/fast-food is notoriously calorie dense and nutrient-poor... yes... this applies even when you go into a restaurant and order the side salad. (I cannot be the only one who has suffered the disappointing side salad and wished I had ordered something more appetizing. I'm looking at you sad wilty lettuce and pink not red tomatoes.) It will have an impact on your long-term health even if you are only eating it once or twice per week.
- Even if you could magically get all the nutrition you needed out of the food the fact is that some people need far higher levels of certain nutrients in order to be healthy. Especially important if you are unwell and are trying to heal. In my training as a naturopathic doctor we called this idea "individual nutrient dependencies", where thanks to genetics, illness, or some combination of life experiences your body came to require higher doses of a particular nutrient in order to function optimally. Real life example: increased bodily demand for/usage of vitamin C when you are sick.
- But... what about the fact that you don't have overt scurvy or rickets? That's a great point. It means that our diets are keeping full blown vitamin deficiency diseases at bay. (Win!) That said, do you consider yourself symptom-free? Probably not. If my social experiences as a doctor are any indication, most modern North Americans admit to suffering from some symptom or another they would like to pick my brain about. Even if it's just a simple "How can I boost my energy?" (That's not a complaint, I love talking shop, BTW.) Even if you do hold that your are symptom-free, consider that the lack of disease or symptoms is not the same thing as feeling really vitally healthy. It's not the same thing as having a robust energetic body that is resistant to disease, is it?
- And what if you buy from your local farmer's market? I salute you! This is hands down one of the best things you could be doing for your health and our local economy here on the island. Keep doing this as much as you can. But until you can source 100% of your food supply from locally grown/produced and make it all home-made from fresh ingredients... the above 5 points still apply.
As aside related to point number 6... The provincial economy is an ongoing pain-point and topic for debate I cannot escape lately. To help the situation, it's worth considering where your dollars end up in the long run. Whose pocket does it end up in at the end of the day? If you spend your money with local producers and businesses, it stays on the island rather than going to some business far far away. Spending it here means keeping it here. I know I've started becoming more considerate of this in many purchases. For food in particular, where I can based on what's available. This just makes the most good in my immediate community per dollar.
Dr. Laura Nurse is naturopathic doctor, fledgling blogger, & fiercely proud Newfoundlander dedicated to helping you leverage the power of diet, lifestyle, and natural medicines to feel great in the body you're living in.http://www.drlauranurse.ca/about.html