“Insufficient vitamin intake is apparently a cause of chronic diseases. Recent evidence has shown that suboptimal levels of vitamins (below standard), even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. A large proportion of the general population is apparently at increased risk for this reason.”
— Dr Robert Fletcher and Dr Kathleen Fairfield (Harvard researchers)
Why to take supplements?
One question that commonly arises is, “if I eat a healthy diet, do I still need to take supplements?”
Most people are unwitting students of the breakfast cereal school of nutrition and don’t understand the role of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals etc.) in our bodies. People assume a well-balanced diet will meet RDAs and provide enough to prevent horrible deficiency disease like scurvy (vitamin C).
For more than 50 years, the general public has been led to believe that RDA nutrient levels are adequate. However, the Food and Nutrition Board of National Institutes of Health defines “the RDA requirement” as “the lowest continuing intake level of a nutrient that, for a specified indicator of adequacy, will maintain a defined level of nutriture in an individual.” It is very basic since RDAs do not exist for a number of key nutrients; have little relevance to what is needed for optimal health; and do not take into account individual variation in need and lifestyle factors.
Nutrient depletion in the soil – Over-use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and high yield crops in modern farming deplete the soil of essential minerals. Lack of minerals causes plant cannot form essential vitamins.
Commercial processes – harvesting, shipping, long term food storage, processing, and additional preservatives decrease the nutrient content in food.
Exercise increases nutrient needs – If you are an athlete or regular exerciser, the amount of extra oxygen and energy used by active individuals simultaneously increases both macro and micro nutrients needs.
Modern cooking style depletes nutrients – high temperature cooking such as boiling, frying, and baking kills vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the food.
Normal aging decreases the ability to absorb nutrients – Supplementation is extremely important for the older population. As we age, our body produces less enzymes that needed to properly digest the food we eat.
Modern life style compromises immune system – We all lead busy lives, experiencing stress, expose to pollution and chemicals on daily basis. Supplements can provide nutrients to repair our damaged body and weakened immune system.
A recent study published in 2012, in the Journal of the American Medical Association assessed the effect of “Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men”. This was large, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, that included 14,641 male physicians as the study group, and follow-up took place over an average of 11.2 years. They concluded that:
“A daily multivitamin supplement significantly but modestly reduced the risk of total cancer during a mean of 11 years of treatment and follow-up. Although the main reason to take multivitamins is to prevent nutritional deficiency, these data provide support for the potential use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cancer.”
The scientific evidence supporting health benefits of nutritional supplements is solid and growing daily, and more health care professionals than ever before are now siding with these conclusions.