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Do we really need supplements?

Do we really need supplements?

By Elaine Francke

If we eat healthy do we really need supplements? - The simple answer is yes and yes.

Ideally, all of the nutrition we need can come from the food we eat. Unfortunately, in today's world, it usually doesn't. Even if food was grown in nutrient dense soil without contaminates, much of the nutrition is lost in its journey from the field to our table. And finally, food alone can only fill our nutritional needs if our bodies are able to absorb all of its nutrients and assimilate them properly.

If your diet consists of a wide variety of nutrient dense, organic whole foods, with lots of raw produce, locally grown (preferably in your back yard) and harvested at the right time for maximum nutrition, and your digestive system is working at peak performance, then you have little use for supplements. Those are a lot of ifs. And even with this kind of diet, which, incidentally, would be of far more benefit than any supplement regimen could ever be, there are still some supplements that can be of benefit.

Today's field to table journey is not conducive to optimum nutrition. Produce is picked before fully ripened, before reaching its full nutritional potential. Produce is often left in storage for long periods of time, and gassed or otherwise treated to last longer and appear ripened. The average distance and time from field to table is about 700 kilometres and 10-14 days. All the while, the food is losing its nutritive content.

Even local grocery stores have challenges in maintaining optimum nutritive value.

The second consideration is whether your body can properly assimilate nutrients. Being healthy means you have a healthy immune system, which means the digestive system is working right. When the gut is out of balance, our bodies do not properly assimilate nutrients. Supplements can help us bridge the gap.

If you cannot raise your own food, get to know your local farmer's markets and the farmers! Buy your food directly from a farmer, or join a CSA (community supported agriculture), if possible. Your diet should consist of a wide variety of foods that are nutrient dense and organic. Avoid processed foods and do not eat anything with artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, MSG, trans fats, or GMOs.

A full 80% of your diet should consist of fresh, raw, organic produce -- more vegetables than fruit. Healthy fats will help you absorb and metabolize nutrients.

Even though you take these steps, today's food is not nearly as nutritious as food grown fifty years ago. And yet, it is best, if possible, to gain as much of your nutrition as you can through foods.

Of course you should consider additional supplementation if you need it. Your health should be your greatest clue as to whether or not you require additional supplementation. Any supplements you add should be of high quality, and most are not. In fact, most multivitamins can do more damage than good. Stay away from cheap, synthetic vitamins and inorganic minerals. It's a great idea to supplement, as long as the supplements are not making up for a substandard diet.

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