According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at least 40% of Americans routinely consume a diet that contains only 60% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of each of ten selected nutrients. This means that nearly half the population suffers from a deficiency of at least one important nutrient, which includes vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. A poll of 37,000 Americans conducted by Food Technology concluded that:
- 50% were deficient in vitamin B6
- 42% did not consume enough calcium
- 39% had insufficient iron intake
- 25 – 39% did not get enough vitamin C
In addition, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized not only as an American problem but as a global pandemic as well. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that overall vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. is 42%. The highest deficiency rates were seen in African Americans at 82% and Hispanics at 69%. Aging, medications and medical conditions, menstruation, poor or very strict diets, and heavy alcohol consumption can all contribute to nutrient deficiencies.
To correct a vitamin or mineral deficiency, you must first recognize that nutrients work synergistically. There are more than 45 currently known essential nutrients and all have interactions with other nutrients. This means that there is cooperation or harmony between certain vitamins and minerals that work as catalysts to promote assimilation and absorption of other vitamins and minerals, which in turn promotes health. In other words, you can’t simply replace a single nutrient deficiency without taking a balanced multiple vitamin and mineral formula.
Synergy is fundamental to optimal nutrition because nutrients interact and are dependent upon one another to promote optimal health by regulating body processes, building, repairing and maintaining body tissues and furnishing the fuel necessary for energy production. These functions are all nutrient specific. Since the body doesn’t use substitutes when there are nutrient deficiencies, a balanced diet containing all nutrients is necessary. When nutritionists speak about a healthy diet, they are referring to fresh, live, unprocessed, whole foods in their natural state, which contain hundreds of health promoting nutrients.
Some examples of nutrients that work synergistically include vitamin D, which assists calcium absorption, potassium, which helps the kidneys eliminate excess sodium, B12 and folate, which work together to support cell division and replication, and zinc, which enables the body to use vitamin A. While some nutrients need to be replenished daily and some can be stored by the body for later use, it’s not enough to simply “get a lot” of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. For optimal nutrition you also need to make sure there is balance and biodiversity among the food groups. Many of us eat the same 30 foods routinely and generally cycle through all them in just 4 days. It’s important to have as much diversity within the food groups as possible.
Nutritional supplements can help ensure that dietary needs are not just met but maximized to support good health and lower the risk of developing age related chronic disease. By contrast, RDA guidelines list minimal daily amounts necessary to avoid deficiencies. Taking supplements with a meal (unless recommended otherwise) aids in assimilation, as together the natural digestive process and natural food nutrients help to promote the digestion and absorption of all the nutrients from both the supplement and the food.
Now that you know the importance of vitamin synergy, here are some great recommendations for multivitamin/mineral supplements:Enzyme Nutrition Two Daily Multi-Vitamin by Enzymedica – This 100% whole food matrix is powered by Thera-Blend™, a superior enzyme blend designed to enhance the utilization of vitamins and minerals. This easily digestible formula also contains nutrient-rich superfoods, botanicals, antioxidants and guaranteed potency, shelf stable probiotics. Suitable for all, 14 years of age and older. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO formula. Specialized Men’s and Women’s formulas also available. PhytoMulti Capsules by Metagenics – This science-based formula contains a highly concentrated proprietary blend of full spectrum phytonutrients along with essential vitamins and minerals for optimal multidimensional health support. Gluten free, Non-GMO formula. UltraNutrient by Pure Encapsulations – This product combines core vitamins and minerals with advanced antioxidants and standardized phytonutrient extracts to provide broad spectrum nutritional support for the whole body with emphasis on cardiovascular and liver health. Twice Daily Multi by Designs for Health – This formula contains optimal amounts of foundational nutrients and includes vitamins and chelated minerals in therapeutic doses.
References:Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310306 Nutrition Reference Guide. http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/reference_intro.asp Nutrition’s Dynamic Duos. http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HB_web/Nutritions-dynamic-duos.htm http://www.ion.ac.uk/information/onarchives/synergy