I am a firm believer in nutritional supplementation. I believe everyone could benefit from individual, targeted supplementation, determined by a blood test and overseen by a qualified functional medicine professional. Cumulative deficiencies can manifest themselves in a host of metabolic and systemic pathologies. When you give the body what it needs it can heal itself but when dietary, behavioral, environmental, and social factors are working against you, physical and mental depletion is all too common.
Unless you eat nearly 100% organic/wild meats and vegetables, and live in a low stress, low toxin environment, and spend time daily in the sunshine, then you’re probably deficient in various vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients.
Keep in mind that while it is very easy to have a nutritional deficiency, there is no substitute for eating quality foods. You cannot swallow a bucket of supplements and expect to achieve optimal well-being without having your lifestyle factors and food habits in order. Nonetheless, the following four reasons are why I think everyone should be taking quality, affordable, and targeted supplements. I’ll keep it fairly brief, because multiple Ph.D’s could be done on each of these points.
Reason #1: Food quality and diversity is low.
Minerals can only get into food from the soil, plants can’t produce them. Not only is the soil quality lower than it was in the past due to synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and more, but much of the nutritional value has quite literally been bred out of the plants through monoculture and domestication. There is an illusion of food diversity when you go into the grocery store but in reality food diversity has largely fallen victim to industrialization. Most of us have probably only eaten one variety of carrots, broccoli, avocado, and a few types of corn, apples, pumpkins, and onions. In reality there are 5, 10, or 20+ varieties of each of those foods and nutritional profile can vary significantly among them.
Reason #2: Stress levels are high.
Long work weeks, social isolation, lack of exercise, sedentism, lack of sleep, poor diet, debt, relationship struggles, and commuting – all potential sources of major and chronic stress on both the body and mind. Chronic stress can have a number of harmful and far-reaching physical and psychological effects, not the least of which are accelerated nutrient depletion, and poor digestion and uptake of food.
Reason #3: Toxic load is high.
Every day, each of us is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of chemicals – the vast majority of which did not even exist before 1920. Paint, insulation, flooring, sealants, adhesives, plastics, body care products, edible food-like substances (EFS), additives, preservatives, and more….these permeate our environments and poison us at every turn. Many scientists estimate that everyone alive today carries 700+ chemical contaminants. Even newborn Inuit living in the northern Canadian Arctic, and polar bears living in the Arctic Circle don’t escape. The toxins can travel throughout the globe via transcontinental trade winds. These exposures can be minimized based on individual environmental factors, but no one escapes completely.
Reason #4: We eat too many processed/refined foods.
Sugar and refined foods not only deplete the body’s magnesium stores but strongly suppress the immune system and stimulate unnecessary and excessive sympathetic nervous system activity….not to mention all of the havoc it wreaks upon your metabolism. These empty calories often take the place of more nutrient dense foods so it’s a double whammy – you eat less healthy stuff, and accelerate physical depletion.
Based on those four reasons, I reiterate that everyone should be taking individual, targeted supplementation, determined by a blood test and overseen by a qualified functional medicine professional. Keep in mind that long term deficiencies can take weeks, months, and possible years to restore. You should see some immediate and short term benefits of supplement, lifestyle, and dietary intervention but the benefits of any positive lifestyle changes are additive, and won’t all appear in a flash of lighting. Months and years of accumulated damage do not reverse overnight.
I believe that the vast majority of people want to have healthy and strong bodies. However, many hidden factors can confound and frustrate their efforts. My purpose in this post is to illuminate some of the hidden environmental factors and encourage you to begin asking questions about yourself and your environment. Health comes at a cost, but the cost of disease is much higher. What you don’t know can hurt you, it can kill you, and it can leave your metabolically and hormonally deranged. Lets educate ourselves together, and begin taking the necessary steps towards wellness.
Don’t pay for a Kia, and expect a Mercedes.
Depending on the feedback I get for this article, I may feel compelled to include all of my references in future articles of this nature. It’s definitely something I would prefer to do but turns a post like this from a one hour task into three or more hours.
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