Are Nutritional Supplements Necessary?

by Head Health Nutter on June 23, 2009

vitamins

This blog is all about natural health. If most nutritional supplements are synthetic, why are we even discussing it on Live Lighter? Well, recently I came across two separate sources that provided the same sound reason for supplementation in today’s society. It convinced me that this topic warrants discussion.

The following is a synopsis of what I found researching this fascinating health debate:

Those against nutritional supplements say:

  • Every nutrient we need can be found in food. “If you’re generally healthy and eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats and fish, you likely don’t need dietary supplements.” (source: The Mayo Clinic)
  • Poor quality nutritional supplements are useless. Many supplements sold on the market may not be as potent as they claim to be or their bioavailability is questionable. If supplements are not in a form our bodies can  absorb, they simply pass through our system and provide no value. (source: Surefirewealth.com)
  • Will do more harm than good. Reports on poor quality nutritional supplements have found that they are full of fillers and preservatives. For example, many kids’ supplements are packed with sugar or aspartame to make them taste like candy. (source: suite101.com)
  • Are ineffective. Many nutrients depend on other nutrients in order to work in the body. They need to be available in proper proportions and at the same time. If one of these nutrients is taken without the other, severe deficiencies in the one not taken can occur. (source: surefirewealth.com)
  • There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. It’s been well-documented that nutritional supplements, even natural ones like St. John’s Wort and Echinacea, can be fatal. Some have been found to interfere with surgery and post-op recovery as they can have negative effects when combined with particular prescription medications and other supplements. (source: homefrontonline.com)
  • Can encourage overdosing. While our bodies easily secrete water-soluable vitamins, fat-soluable vitamins can build up in our systems and become toxic. For instance, too much vitamin A can weaken your bones and stunt your growth. (source: freefitnesstips.co.uk)

Those for nutritional supplements say:

“Unless you are ready to leave the city and start growing all your own organic food, the best way to ensure you’re meeting your many vitamin and mineral requirements is through supplementation.” Dr. Natasha Turner, N.D. The Hormone Diet.

  • We now have poor quality crops. Conventional farming methods, the use of pesticides and herbicides, and the effects of pollution over the last 50 years have all contributed to lower quality crops. Consequently, even those who eat a well-balanced diet with nutrition in mind may be lacking in some of the most basic nutrients for optimal health. (source: suite101.com)
  • Supermarket food is nutrient deprived. Much of our food has been picked before the fruit or vegetable has reached it’s peak nutrient content so that it ripens before it reaches the supermarket shelves. (source: surefirewealth.com) In addition, most of the food we are provided has been frozen, cooked or processed in ways that strip much needed vitamins and minerals. (source: The Hormone Diet)
  • Our society craves nutrient-depleting food. Many of us have developed a taste for foods made from white flour, trans fats and sugar. These foods have no nutritional value while still requiring nutrients to be processed in the body. They in effect rob us of nutrients.
  • We pay to live in our pollution. Today, we ingest an abnormal amount of chemicals through our food, water and air. Like the nutrient-void food in the previous point, these chemicals require nutrients from our bodies in order to excrete them.
  • Typical lifestyles today require additional nutrients. There’s no denying that we live stressful lives. “Some sources say our vitamin C is completely sapped after 20 minutes under stress.” In addition, most of our activities to reduce our stress require additional nutrients: prescription meds, recreational drugs (like smoking and alcohol) and even exercise!
  • Other factors that deplete our nutrients: diseases and genetic disorders and pregnancy (source: freefitnesstips.co.uk); dieting and those with digestive troubles, such as food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies (source: successfulaging.ca); and those living in Northern climates lack sufficient vitamin D (source: CBC.ca).
  • Some synthetic supplements are better than the real thing. If you can believe it, several man-made nutrients are better absorbed than from food. For instance, folic acid is 50% more absorbable than it’s counterpart (folate) found in food. (source: everything.com)

What do you think of supplementation, dear Readers? Do we need nutritional supplements in this day and age? Did I miss any of the arguements from either side? Please share your thoughts below and let’s get a discussion going!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Denise June 24, 2009 at 10:47 am

I’m firmly on the anti-supplement side. Frankly, my reasoning is simply that I am DEAD AGAINST processing food, including Pasteurization.

So, it just follows that artificially injecting food with “nutrients” goes against my grain.

And I think Vitamins are unnecessary. I do think that medicating yourself for specific issues is different than taking Daily Vitamins.

So, if you take Echinacea to help a cold go away faster, fine.

But a daily dose of vitamins, or other nutrients is unnecessary, in my opinion. and vitamins are RARELY vegetarian.

so, that’s my take!

as a side note, MILK makes me crazy…. “enriched milk” makes me feel like throwing a fit in the supermarket. Even organic milk… UGH! (and don’t even get me started on orange juice)

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Stephanie Miller June 25, 2009 at 10:29 am

Denise, thanks for commenting. You make some very good points.

Based on the information FOR supplementation, though, I clearly see the need for it considering the damage humans have made to Nature.

Perhaps this is one of those debates that can go on forever? I guess it really comes down to an individual’s decision whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs.

Steph
Head Heath Nut

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Mike June 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I used to be dead set against supplementation and believed that most of my food could hold the nutritional value I needed. I did this for quite some time and I still fully support people who live the anti supplementation life. The evidence, for me however, was simply too overwhelming. After 10 years of being an athlete and solidly against supplementation, I turned to using multi vitamins and fish oils to supplement my daily intake.

The food that is processed in the United States today is neither high quality nor treated in any way that could be considered healthy or nutritious. Our Animals live tortured lives only to be killed and ragged through piles of shit before they are slaughtered and fed to us. This has a drastic effect on the quality of the meat. Vegetables are routinely crop dusted with all kinda of pesticides and chemicals, but not to make them more nutritious and healthier. To make them grow and to make their colors more vibrant. This kind of genetic engineering has taken away for the vitamins and nutrients that were once part of those plants.

It’s still completely possible to get all your nutrients from just food, but it takes a lot of time and research and energy, that I simply don’t have anymore. And I don’t trust the government to makes the food supply any better for it’s people. The Food factories only want money.

I’ve have since felt a lot better since starting vitamins. I am more awake, more alert, i have more energy, and I am more sharp and focused.

to each their own of course, but I would say That, in this day and time, with our food supply in such danger, supplementation may not be such a bad idea.

-Two cents.

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Head Health Nutter June 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Thank you for sharing, Mike. You might enjoy watching Robyn O’Brien: http://livelighter.org/real-food-crusader-inspires-change/

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Judy Sheldon-Walker April 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I am afraid that I strongly believe in vitamin supplements and herbals. I am one who has an extremely busy lifestyle, works a sedentary type of job (call center) and has very little appetite or time to prepare healthy meals. Living in the city my space is limited to how much I can actually grow myself, plus I haven’t the time to properly care for a garden. I have 30 grandchildren and 7 great grands plus my love of blogging and crafts which entirely consumes my time. I will grab fruit on the run and drink oolong tea all day every day but rely heavily on supplements and herbals to get me through.

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