Vitamins and minerals, so vital to human health, are a constant source of deliberation when it comes to supplementation. While many would agree that a daily multivitamin is a great nutritional insurance policy, others would claim a healthy diet is all we need. However, telling people to simply “eat healthy” may actually be doing the population a disservice, as studies show that nine in ten Americans may falsely believe they are following a healthy and nutritious diet plan. While Americans tend to give themselves high marks for healthy eating, the reality is that the state of the health of Americans says otherwise. One in three American adults is obese, only one-fourth report limiting sugar and harmful fats, and fully two-thirds admit they don’t eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables daily.
In fact, the modern diet, which consists largely of processed foods loaded with sugar, refined flour and processed vegetable oils, is the main reason behind the obesity epidemic and the spike in chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fatty liver syndrome and other health conditions. According to the USDA, Americans spend only 0.05% of their food budget on green vegetables, while spending 17% on refined grains, 13% on sugars and sweets and 9% on frozen prepared foods. Clearly, consumers are making choices that are totally out of sync with federally recommended guidelines. As American dietary budgets move in the direction of higher expenditures on prepackaged and processed foods, fruit and vegetable consumption decreases, along with vitamin and mineral intake.
Along with our nutrient poor choices comes a diet totally out of balance with the vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber and phytonutrients necessary for optimal function and wellness. While there is little doubt that a refrigerator well stocked with nutrient dense whole foods is the first line of defense for staying healthy, the ever increasing consumption of fabricated nutritionally void products may make its own case for the need for supplementation of essential micronutrients. Simply put, Americans are not eating healthy enough diets to provide optimal levels of a range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Other factors such as aging, medical conditions, genes and certain unhealthy lifestyle habits can also contribute to vitamin deficiencies.
Aging- Mild vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common among seniors and are associated with anemia, cognitive impairment, poor wound healing and a vulnerability to infections. Vitamin deficiencies can include vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin D. Mineral deficiencies can include calcium, zinc and magnesium. The causes are varied and are believed to include malabsorption issues, decreased appetite, poor nutrition and prescription medications. Age related changes that can affect vitamin and mineral deficiencies may also include the increased presence of hormones that decrease appetite, along with the decreased presence of the neurotransmitters that stimulate appetite.
Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions can block the absorption of vitamins and minerals from foods. Inflammation, infections, gastric disorders, diabetes and even certain cardiovascular conditions may result in malabsorption of calcium and vitamins B12, E, K and D. Proteins, carbohydrates and electrolytes may be poorly absorbed as well.
Alcohol consumption- Consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can cause a folic acid deficiency. Alcohol can inhibit the absorption of nutrients by decreasing the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes and by damaging the cells that line the stomach and the intestines. Alcohol inhibits the absorption of fats and as a result negatively affects the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, E and D. Common mineral deficiencies can include calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Chronic heavy drinking is linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies as a result of decreased food intake and, for some, impaired absorption, metabolism and utilization of nutrients.
Medications – Both prescription and OTC medications can cause nutritional deficiencies. These include cholesterol lowering drugs, diabetes medications, oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatories, blood pressure medications, acid blockers and antibiotics among others. B vitamins, CoQ10, folic acid, vitamins C and D, and the minerals magnesium, calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc are all examples of deficiencies that can occur when taking medications.
It may help to remember that nutrients work synergistically to support biochemical processes. Basic science supports the use of nutritional supplements in disease prevention and the strive for optimal health. While Americans continue to be overfed and undernourished, you can take action to protect your own health by eliminating the processed foods that drive disease, eating more nutritious whole foods, getting regular exercise and taking your recommended daily dose of good quality multivitamins, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Here are some great recommendations for high quality supplementation in support of overall wellness:Enzyme Nutrition Two Daily Multi-Vitamin by Enzymedica – This 100% whole food matrix contains guaranteed potency probiotics along with nutrient rich superfoods and daily botanicals. Non-GMO, gluten and soy free and suitable for everyone aged 14 and older. ProOmega D 1000 mg by Nordic Naturals – This exceptional product contains 1,000 I.U. of vitamin D along with high levels of pure, ultra-fresh omega-3 essential fatty acids in support of cardiac, immune, neurological and eye health. Produced in Norway from deep sea fish and third party tested for environmental toxins and heavy metals. Non-GMO and gluten free formula. Bio-Multi Plus Iron Free by Biotics Research – This versatile and balanced multiple vitamin and mineral formula supplies unique forms of micronutrients along with bioflavonoids and CoQ10. Gluten free formula. UltraNutrient by Pure Encapsulations – This high potency advanced formula provides core vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants and standardized phytonutrient extracts in support of cardiovascular, liver and overall health. Gluten and soy free formula.