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Why Take Supplements

Nutritional supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet. They can be added to the diet to enhance overall health and energy; support the immune system; reduce the risks of illness and age-related conditions; improve performance in athletic and mental activities; and counter the effects of environmental toxins.

Even for a completely healthy person, supplements are invaluable for greater overall wellness and illness prevention. Below are some reasons for taking health supplements:

Depletion of Soil Nutrients

Over the last 50 years, more than 50% of the world’s top soil has been lost through the overuse of inorganic fertilizers, erosion and farming practices. Exhausted soils depleted of needed minerals and organic materials cannot grow healthy, nutrient rich food.  Consequently, food grown in such conditions lack the nutrients needed to keep people healthy. Many soils today are low in zinc, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, calcium and magnesium content. According to a study conducted by the U.S Department of Agriculture, the nutritional content of harvested food produced today is significantly less than the food produced seventy years ago.

Food Transportation

More than half of the foods available at grocery stores are imported products. Unlike local produces that are picked when they are ripe and delivered immediately to the market, non-locally grown produce must be picked early to prevent spoilage, to survive the long distance travel and to allow for ripening times sitting on the shelf.

Picking produce early does not allow the fruit or vegetable to sweeten on the host plant. Once the produce is harvested, it stops receiving nutrients from the source plant and the level of nutrients begins to diminish. Foods that are not grown locally lose valuable nutrients in the travel process. For instance, spinach loses 50-90% of its Vitamin C content within 24 hours after it is picked. Fresh peas lose 50% of their nutrients after a week from harvest. In fact, most vegetables and fruits lose a substantial amount of their nutritional value before they reach the dinner table.

Food Processing & Food Additives

Food processing, preserving and cooking all lead to depletion of nutrients, making it difficult to obtain adequate nutrition from our food alone. The process of converting brown rice into white rice reduces its fiber content by 75% and also reduces nutrients such as iron, niacin, thiamin, folacin, potassium, vitamins E and B6. Refining wheat into white flour removes 80% of magnesium, 70-80% of zinc, 87% of chromium, 88% of manganese and 50% of cobalt content. Processing sugar cane into white sugar removes 99% of its magnesium and 93% of its chromium. 

In today’s market, thousands of artificial flavors, colors, dough conditioners, stabilizers and preservatives are also added to our foods.  Many of them have no nutritional benefits and can be toxic in large quantities.  For example, EDTA, which is added to frozen vegetables to preserve its colors, does so by removing vital minerals from the vegetables. 

Genetically Modified Food

According to Health Canada, approximately 70% of processed foods contain Genetically Modified Ingredients. Some of the most common GMO foods include corn, potatoes, rice, canola, cotton, soy and tomatoes. A genetically modified plant could theoretically have lower nutritional quality than its traditional counterpart by making nutrients unavailable or indigestible to humans. For example, phytate is a compound commonly found in seeds and grains; it binds with minerals in the body and makes them unavailable to humans. An inserted gene could cause the plant to produce higher levels of phytate, decreasing the mineral absorption in the body.

Poor Digestion

Erratic eating habits, insufficient chewing of food, eating on the run, stress and eating refined, low-quality food with hundreds of food additives has contributed to poor digestion in much of the population. This impairment makes it difficult for our bodies to extract all the nutrients it needs from food and increases the need for nutritional supplements. 

Stress & Insomnia

A stressful lifestyle can deplete many nutrients in the body such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.  Stress causes excessive sympathetic nervous system activity, which reduces digestive strength and results in the reduction of nutrient absorption. Supplements such as inositol are used to treat stress-induced anxiety, panic disorder, and other psychological conditions.

According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research, insomnia affects between 30-40% of adults and has many adverse effects on our health. A study conducted by the American Cancer Society found that those who slept less than six hours per night had significantly higher mortality rates than those who slept approximately seven hours per night. Many supplements such as Melatonin and Vitamin E can help ensure a good night’s sleep. 

Illness Prevention

Many nutrition supplements have been proven to prevent or aid in the treatment of a multitude of illnesses. Vitamin C supplements are probably the best way to prevent common illnesses like colds and flu. Omega-3 fatty acids help to support cardiovascular health, reduce serum triglycerides, decrease pain of rheumatoid arthritis, and promote cognitive health and/or brain function. Insufficient consumption of folic acid in pregnant women can cause the baby to develop neural tube defect, a birth defect that occurs very early in pregnancy and can lead to abnormalities of the skull, brain and spinal cord. The usage of food extracts, isolates, vitamin and mineral supplements for healing has been well-documented for many centuries and will continue to help improve the overall quality of life in society.