Unfortunately the idea of a well balanced diet providing all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals or fibre that you will need each day to be healthy is a myth. How many people really eat a well balanced diet anyway? What is a well balanced diet? If you asked 20 people you would get 20 different answers.
Simply read the book Eat, Drink and be Healthy by Walter Willet from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the lead researcher on 3 of the biggest epidemiological studies of all time that have followed over 150,000 people for the last 20 to 30 years looking at what they eat and what diseases they suffer from. In the middle of this epidemic of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses Mr. Willet suggests the dietary recommendations from governing bodies are not supported by what has been seen in these large long-term studies. He goes on to suggest that we should all be taking a multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
In 2005, the independent Food Commission’s Food Magazine reported that fruits and vegetables were 20% lower in mineral content in 1980 compared to 1930. More specifically it suggested vegetables contained 24% less magnesium, 46% less calcium, 27% less iron and 59% less zinc. Additionally in 2006 the Food Commission reported 47% less iron, 10% less magnesium and 60% less copper when comparing mineral content of meat from the 1930s to food tables published by the Government in 2002. There was also 25% less magnesium, 90% less copper and 15% less calcium in dairy products.
Volume 5 of The National Diet and Nutrition Survey conducted by the Department of Health in 2004 reported the average daily intake of vitamins and minerals for adults in the UK. Over the years these reports have demonstrated the proportion of men and women with low intakes of vitamins and minerals from food sources. Dietary analysis demonstrated there were low intakes of vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, copper, iodine and iron.
The debate as to whether organic food is more nutrient dense than non-organic food continues, some research suggests there is a difference in nutrient density between the two, other research suggests there is not. Organic food is becoming more popular, however the majority of people still buy conventionally farmed foods. The Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health Report published in 2001 funded by the Soil Association identified there was a long term decline in trace minerals content of fruit and vegetables and that there were many studies demonstrating a greater nutrient content of organic food compared to non-organic, many studies that were inconclusive but few if any that demonstrated non-organic foods were more nutrient dense that organic.
Clearly there is a huge demand for vitamins and minerals in our daily lives today because
1. We do not get enough of these in our food
2. We live in a very toxic world
Do not be fooled by the conventional wisdom that you can get all you need from your diet – you do not. Clearly eat healthy nutritious food as your first port of call – taking supplements whilst eating junk food is pointless. However, follow the advice of respected Harvard researcher Walter Willet and take a daily multi vitamin and mineral supplement. What I would add to Mr Willet’s recommendations is to add some omega 3 containing fish oil and extra plant nutrients in the form of super greens / super reds type drinks to this basic stack for optimum health.