In a perfect world we would be getting all the vitamins and minerals we need from a healthy, well-balanced diet. But the world is far from perfect, and even less so is our food. Unfortunately, the adage “You are what you eat” is spot on, and the quality of our nutrition is reflected in the rapid health decline of our population. Even if we do put effort into eating well, chances are that what we consume will be at least partly stripped of nutrients. The widespread use of pesticides, genetically modified foods, the agriculture that puts quantity over quality, the use of pesticides and preservatives, as well as the preparation process are all to blame for the poor nutritional value of our food. While people whose diet revolves around heavily processed, packaged foods are bound to develop some kind of vitamin or mineral deficiency, they are also at a higher risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
This does not mean that popping multivitamins on a daily basis is the solution, far from it.
How to prevent vitamin deficienies?
Grow and cook your own food, eat only organic whole foods, always use the best quality fats and avoid processed sugars at all cost – sorry, that’s the perfect world scenario again… I know life is hectic, time is scarce and for most of us that kind of perfect diet is virtually impossible. How do we stay healthy then?
Well, let me start with the basics – quality, unprocessed food, organic whenever possible, should really constitute the basis of your diet. And I don’t mean you’ve got to be religious about it, a pizza or some Ben & Jerry’s every once in a while is perfectly ok. As long as it’s not an every other day kind of once in while basis… Remember that while these things do taste great, they won’t really satisfy your cravings. On the contrary, they will have you wanting more because apart from the empty calories they provide little to no nutrional value. So while your tastebuds are feasting, your body is starving. No wonder why junk food has so many people stuck in a habit of compulsive over-eating.
Know what’s going on
So first of all, we’ve got to eat well. If however, despite that you are still noticing symptoms of nutritional deficiency it is a good idea to get some tests done and see exactly what is missing. Medical tests may show certain intricacies that would otherwise go unnoticed. For example, iron deficiency is not always caused by low levels of this mineral in our diet, but may be due to low iron absorbtion i.e. low ferritin. This would suggest not to up the iron intake, but rather to look for ways of increasing absorption which may require a change in eating habits or an increase of vitamin C rich foods. More about iron absorbtion in Iron Deficiency & Iron Absorbtion
It is also worth looking into the difference between water and fat soluble vitamins, and analising our eating habits to make sure that they don’t inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients. For instance, a very low fat diet may be the direct cause of vitamins A, E and K deficiency, as these vitamins require fat to be metabolised by our bodies. To find out more about vitamins go to Vitamins – What You Need to Know
If a good diet won’t help…
There are certain cases in which even this kind of informed approach might not resolve the issue. Then, and only then, should we consider supplementation. If you want to learn why supplements should never be your first choice read my post about Natural vs. Synthethic Supplements