If I’m eating healthy, do I need to take vitamins?
The answer: It depends.
I eat dark leafy veggies with every meal. I avoid processed foods and junk food. I meet most of the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) of vitamins and minerals through my regular meals. Based on the recommendations by the United States Food and Nutrition Board and Institute of Medicine, I consume a sufficient amount of nutrients in my meals.
Despite this, I still take vitamins.
The problem with RDAs is that they were designed to just prevent the deficiency diseases, not to provide optimum nutrition levels.
The majority of the population are not achieving optimal nutrition levels, since they aren’t achieving the minimal RDA requirements.
- In the U.S., 9 out of 10 adults do not meet the RDAs for Vitamin D and Vitamin E,
- Over 50% don’t meet the RDAs for vitamin A, calcium and magnesium
- A large USDA survey study of 21,500 people showed that not a single person met the RDAs of all vitamins and minerals from food alone!
Why aren’t Americans getting enough nutrients?
The obvious answer is that we aren’t eating the right foods, but it is not as simple as that. We have to eat more of some of the fruits and vegetables to day than we did decades ago.
Land degradation and soil depletion
The Earth’s soil is being depleted of its nutrients. This is a result of modern agricultural methods such as monocropping rather than crop rotation.
Selective Breeding in Cultivation
Even if you rotate your crops, many of our modern day variety of fruits and vegetables are not as nutrient dense as their ancestors.
An article in the New York Times, “Breeding the Nutrition out of Food,” reviews the history of modern day corn. In the 1400s, corn was a staple in North America. They had corn in a variety of colors, red, yellow, blue, green, black and more. Eventually farmers bred corn that was sweeter or easier to cook.
As technology got better, corn was bred to be even sweeter, 10 times sweeter than ordinary sweet corn. Today majority of the corn that you find in the supermarket lack the phytonutrients like the Anthocyanins or beta-carotene that heirloom varieties of corn has. This has been a trend with many of our favorite foods like potatoes, carrots, and apples. Purple Peruvian has over a lot more phytonutrients than Yukon Gold potatoes.
Although you still can get some nutritious wild varieties of fruits and vegetables, they may be bitter and you may not acclimated to their taste.
Achieving Optimal Nutrition
Some people achieve optimal nutrition by eating a lot of different varieties of vegetables and foods.
If you are like me this can be difficult when you have business meetings at restaurants and travel a lot. Although I enjoy preparing and eating a diverse meal also known as “eating the rainbow” from time to time, I love having simple meals like my green smoothies in the morning and salads at lunch. These simple meals require a some supplementation.
Taking vitamins and other supplements helps me be consistent in my healthy living.
Majority of Americans are not getting enough nutrients. Although we don’t have major issues like scurvy any more, research from Harvard Medical Center states that “Inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to chronic diseases.” Experts agree that the United States has a problem. Multivitamins may be a viable solution.
The question is not whether or not people should take a multivitamins.
The question is which one?