We often hear doctors and nutritionists state that we should be provided with a sufficient amount of nutrients through our daily intake of food alone. They also claim that healthy foods contain adequate amounts of these substances in order to keep us healthy. They rarely recommend taking supplements in order to bridge any nutritional “gaps” that may still be present.
Within the European Union a regulation states that any supplement distributor cannot claim that average diets lack the required amount of nutrients. So, we obviously do not make such statements in order to keep in accordance with the law.
Let’s take a look at where the vitamin and mineral content within our foods has gone. There is actually quite a bit of evidence which suggests that the current industrialised food system is not providing us with the proper nutrients. Science has shown these foods to be “cheap” in more ways than one. Here are some recent (and rather disturbing) observations to consider:
- Many vital nutrients including vitamin C, iron, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and amino acids found within foods have declined significantly over the past 50 years. Dr. Donald Davis of the University of Texas came to this conclusion after analysing USDA nutrient information. Similar trends have been highlighted throughout the United Kingdom.
- Wheat grown 100 years ago contained twice as many nutrients as in the present.
- Modern varieties of corn have suffered major declines in protein content and several other nutrients.
- Carotene (a natural substance created within plants that helps our bodies produce vitamin A) levels within carrots have declined by 40% within the past four decades.
Let’s look at some other disturbing examples of how our health is being placed in jeopardy on a daily basis:
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) has decreased by 88% in oats, 95% in milk and 96% in eggs;
- Vitamin B6 has decreased by 97% in corn;
- Calcium has decreased by 82% in tomatoes;
- Iron has decreased by 96% in potatoes and by 97%in carrots;
- Magnesium has decreased by 75% in carrots.
And the list goes on and on… What is causing this phenomenon?
Environmental dilution effect
It has been known for years that fertilizers and modern irrigation techniques can produce higher crop yields. However, this is often at the sacrifice of nutrient content. Furthermore, excessive levels of nitrogen within soils cause plants to absorb more water; diluting the nutrients contained within.
Genetic Dilution Effect
While plant breeders will often create varieties leading to higher crop yields, nutrient values are likewise declining. For instance, broccoli grown in the 1950s contained approximately 13 milligrams of calcium per gram. This level now stands at a mere 4.4 milligrams. Similar declines can be seen within meat, eggs and dairy products. When compared to industrial methods, foods derived from animals raised on a pasture (such as cows, sheep and chickens) contain much higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, beta carotene, and healthy fatty acids. In other words, organic foods supplied by natural farming techniques are always better than the nutrient-poor substances produced by industrial processes.
Doctors and biochemists argue that many of us are not obtaining a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. The health consequences (these include accelerated ageing and increased cancer rates) should be taken much more seriously than other issues such as potentially latent pesticide residues within our foods.
I wanted to illustrate these trends to you and particularly, why many of the foods we consume contain low levels of vital nutrients. To put it simply, the quality of our food is decreasing at a frightening pace. This begs an important question. Do we require vitamin and mineral supplements in order to counteract such effects? The answer is simple.