Is Eating a Healthy Diet Enough? Why We Need Supplements

What you need to know about the importance of filling nutritional gaps and which supplements to consider.

Enjoying a healthy and balanced diet is one of the most important parts of supporting your health — but is diet alone enough to make sure you are fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive?

A study found that 31% of the US population was susceptible to at least one vitamin deficiency and that while many of us eat fairly well, we may be undernourished. (1)

Read on as we share what you need to know about the importance of filling nutritional gaps and which supplements to consider.

4 Reasons to Fill Nutritional Gaps With Supplementation

1. Soil Depletion & Farming Practices

The truth is that even with the healthiest diet, food alone may not be providing us with all the nutrients the body requires. Why? It all has to do with soil depletion. Our soil is not as nutrient-dense as it once was.

Researchers at the University of Texas took a closer look at the impact soil depletion has had on our food supply between 1950 and 1999, gathered from information given by the US Department of Agriculture. The researchers noticed a decline in protein, calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, B2, and iron. They associated this with a big change in agricultural practices such as pesticide use as well as practices used to speed up vegetable growth rate. (2)

Another study from a Kushi Institute analysis found that calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C levels dropped between the years of 1975 to 1997, and some research has suggested that we would have to consume eight oranges to gain the amount of vitamin A that our ancestors would have received from just one. (2) That’s a significant difference and a reason to consider the nutrient density of the foods we are consuming today.

So, in addition to improving the health of our soil and supporting organic farming, soil depletion and modern-day farming practices show just how important proper supplementation may be for some.

2. Imbalanced Diet

An imbalanced diet is another reason supplements can be a major nourishment boost. And, as we can see from the orange example above, it’s not as easy to get all of our nutrients from food as it once was.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there were several nutrients that are considered under-consumed by the American population. (3)

These included:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Choline
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron for women between the ages of 19-50

The bottom line? While supplements should not replace a healthy and well-balanced diet, it may fill important nutritional gaps.

3. Support Healthy Digestion

While multi-vitamins are often the most talked about when it comes to adding additional supplementation, it’s also important to discuss the role of probiotics in a healthy diet. And, with nearly 70% of the immune system residing in the gut, it makes sense that we need to support a healthy digestive system in order to function at our best. (4)

While there are plenty of probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi), it's hard to know if we are getting the right amount of good bacteria that our body needs in one serving. This is where probiotic supplementation may help support the balance of trillions of bacteria that reside in the gut. (5)

4. Not Getting Enough Sun

Whether you don’t get outside as often as you would like or deal with cloudy winter months, with little to no sunlight, filling the gaps with vitamin D is extremely important. Many of us simply aren’t getting enough of this sunshine vitamin, which plays an integral role in helping the body absorb calcium, and supporting the immune system. (6) Talk with your health practitioner to see about checking your vitamin D levels. This way, they can suggest how much vitamin D you should be supplementing with.

5. Stress

Stress is something that appears to be becoming a part of our everyday lives. According to the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in American survey, three out of four Americans dealt with at least one sign of stress in the last month.

Research notes that some nutrients may be especially beneficial for those dealing with increased levels of stress at work. For example, a clinical trial looked at the impact of B vitamin supplementation as an intervention to help manage occupational stress. The results were promising and concluded that using B vitamins may be a very sustainable option for work stress. (7)

What studies show us is that having adequate nutrient reserves is important, especially during times of increased occupational stress. So, in addition to practicing stress-reduction on a daily basis, whether through meditation, yoga, or regular exercise, filling nutritional gaps may also be beneficial for those dealing with these feelings.

What to Look For in a Quality Supplement

Now that you know just how important it is to support the body with enough vitamins and minerals through a balanced diet and proper supplementation, it’s also a good idea to be aware of the quality of the supplements you are taking.

Here a list of what to look for in a supplement:

  • Free of binders, additives, added sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, and caffeine
  • Sourced from a GMP certified facility
  • Non-GMO
  • 3rd party tested for quality

Keep in mind, supplementation should be in addition to a healthy diet, not a substitution. Always be sure to speak with your health practitioner before introducing new supplements into your routine.

Quick Disclaimer

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Sources


1. Bird JK, Murphy RA, Ciappio ED, McBurney MI. Risk of Deficiency in Multiple Concurrent Micronutrients in Children and Adults in the United States. Nutrients. 2017;9(7):655. Published 2017 Jun 24. doi:10.3390/nu9070655


2. Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious? (2011). Scientific America. 


3.  Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious? (2011). Scientific America. 


4. Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3‐6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x


5. Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics. (2020). Harvard Health Publishing.  


6. Vitamin D.(2020). NIH.


7. Stough C, Simpson T, Lomas J, et al. Reducing occupational stress with a B-vitamin focussed intervention: a randomized clinical trial: study protocol. Nutr J. 2014;13(1):122. Published 2014 Dec 22. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-122


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