"You are what you eat! And I am frightened."
The question that I am frequently asked is, "Do I need to take vitamin and mineral supplements? I eat a pretty good diet and I heard you get all the nutrients you need from your food."
If only that were true! I believe that we, as a nation, would not have the health problems to the extent that we do if our food provided the nutrients we needed. Think back on how dramatically our diet and the entire food supply has changed in the past 100 years. Cattle were raised on the open range eating a diet of natural grasses, and then driven to market in cattle drives. Their meat was lean and actually contained omega 3 essential fatty acids. Compare that to today when 99% of the beef cattle treated with hormones and then are finished in a feed lot, eating corn and other grains, insuring that the meat is marbled with fat. There meat is completely devoid of the omega 3 fatty acids and are loaded with saturated fat. Food was organically grown or raised on small family farms using no pesticides, herbicides or insecticides. The fertilizers were primarily organic and the fields were not over farmed to squeeze out the absolute highest yield per acre. The richest farmlands were on the flood plains of the rivers where essential minerals would be recharged in the soil every few years.
Contrast that to today, the farm fields have been overused for decades with synthetic NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium) fertilizer and the crops are sprayed with a variety of inorganic harmful chemicals. As far back to 1934, there was testimony in the congressional record to indicate our farm fields had been depleted of the essential trace minerals necessary for the production of truly nutritious crops. The food looks good, but there is significantly lower amounts of vitamins, essential and trace minerals. There is also the residue of the chemicals that have been incorporated into the food that simply cannot be washed away.
Our food supplies, while abundant, is simply not as nourishing as organically produced food. There was a recent study where a large group of registered dietitians were given the challenge to construct a menu for a week that would provide all of the recommended daily supply of nutrients. The only restriction was that the diet could not exceed 2000 calories per day. It could not be done! Every single diet plan was analyzed and was deficient in at least four of the essential nutrients.
It has evolved to the point that even the American Medical Association recommends that every American should take a multiple vitamin supplement daily. The American Heart Association also recommends that you take a supplement of fish oil daily for you heart health.
So which supplement should you take? Who do you trust to recommend products to you? I have spent the last 3 years working toward my diplomate degree in clinical nutrition. I expect that as you continue to read these newsletters you will come to trust me as an unbiased source of information.
Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry, which is regulated by the FDA. I have taken the following statements from the FDA website:
Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. …
Currently, there are no FDA regulations that are specific to dietary supplements that establish a minimum standard of practice for manufacturing dietary supplements. However, FDA intends to issue regulations on good manufacturing practices that will focus on practices that ensure the identity, purity, quality, strength and composition of dietary supplements. At present, the manufacturer is responsible for establishing its own manufacturing practice guidelines to ensure that the dietary supplements it produces are safe and contain the ingredients listed on the label.
Since you are at the mercy of the manufacturer, let me guide you through the process of selecting the right products for you and your family. We will continue with this discussion next week. In the mean time, if you have any questions on nutrition, please feel free to email me at
Mail to: [email protected]
To your health,
James P. Seim, D.C.