People are either often quick to dismiss the use of supplements, because “it’s not natural” or “I get all my vitamins and minerals from food”.

What exactly does “natural” mean? , and can we get all our vitamins and minerals from food?  

First of all, it’s important to understand that most of our modern fruits and vegetables have been crossbred to be bigger, sweeter, more resilient and just plain better.  Link here.  So most of our fruits and vegetables are not “natural” because we modified them to be better.  So the real question is, is modification “unnatural”?

There are 3 ways to modify a plant.

  • Cross Pollination = happens naturally without human intervention, plants that are compatible mix genetics through pollen being spread by wind and insects.
  • Cross Breeding = some human intervention, very little equipment required. Usually, a simple grafting technique is used.  Lots of our modern day fruits and vegetables have come through this means. Proven over 100s of years to be safe. The link earlier in this post was referring to this.
  • Genetically modified food = most of the corn and soybean in the world is already genetically modified. This requires a massive human intervention, with scientists in lab coats. Most scientists argue this is completely safe, and even a necessity. I myself, I’m not so convinced and think we need to tread with caution here. This will be addressed in a stand-alone blog post.

Most people that want “naturally grown food” are of course fine with cross pollination, and cross breeding. It’s the consumption of genetically modified plants which is so heavily debated. Now, there is plenty of science/studies that point to genetic modification being safe. However, personally, it’s hard for me to come to terms with a plant that is genetically modified to produce its own insecticide internally, as being healthy. You can show me as many studies as you like, but I think you can’t always ignore intuition. Especially when you have a choice to not eat these genetically modified plants. Another read flag is the companies that own the rights to these genetically modified plants, are constantly lobbying for laws to be changed. So that they don’t have to tell you, that the food product you’re buying from the store has a genetically modified plant as an ingredient.  This alone makes me suspicious enough to avoid them when I can.

I would argue that our modern farming and distribution practices are greatly affecting the nutritional value of our food. If you’re reading this chances are you live in modern “westernized” society, which probably means your “overfed and undernourished”, a real oxymoron. We get nutrients from food, but our food gets nutrients from the soil, and our soil is depleted and sick. Article here.  

So to come back to the point. You can see we have already been modifying the natural state of plants for a long time. So to aim for a “natural diet” through natural means is a term that is hard to nail down. Logic would suggest with a sick and depleted soil, adding vitamins and minerals through some supplementation is a necessity. This, however being a band-aid, self-centered solution, because what we should really be doing is fixing the soil and using more eco-frinedly farming techniques.

Simple ! So a multivitamin will do the trick right?

If only it was that easy. To assume all of your individual vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be solved by one pill, taken twice a day is ignorant.

If you look at a daily recommended dose of magnesium for example and compare the size of this pill to your multivitamin, they probably look very similar. So how does the multivitamin fit 13 other vitamins and minerals into a pill with the same volume as your single magnesium pill?

Answer; it doesn’t! Your multivitamin is under dosed and most likely of poor quality. Not only is it underdosed, but what type of zinc/magnesium/calcium does it have in it? Is it bio-available, will it work?

Did you know there are over 7 different types of Zinc? All with different bio-availability and different recommend dosages. This is true for most other vitamins and minerals, they can all be sourced with different raw ingredients. These ingredients greatly affecting how your body will respond.

So are supplements a waste of money?

Yes and no! We are all probably deficient in something. However buying poor quality or under dosed supplements are definitely a waste of money, and may even make you sicker. Although finding quality supplements, and putting time into investigating what you actually need, and what works for you. This is money you probably can’t afford to not spend.

This site here, labdoor. Does a great job at testing and ranking different supplements, having done all the hard work for you. The general consensus seems to be they are quite reliable. Who knows what sort of connections they have with certain brands, but they appear to be quite transparent.