Why do we need to take vitamins? Don’t we get enough from our food?

Why do we need to take vitamins? Don’t we get enough from our food?

Melanie Ryan

There are a few reasons why taking vitamins, minerals and nutrients via supplementation may be of benefit to you.

“But surely if I am eating a wholefoods diet, I shouldn’t need to take a supplement?”

This might be true for a very small percentage of us that are diligently eating organic fresh wholefoods with enormous variety, but in all reality, who really does that and who has the time to eat the amount of food required to meet all the nutritional requirements, as well as the stomach capacity?

Organic fresh whole foods do contain more nutrition than non-organic foods, but there can still be barriers to the nutrition that they contain. Australian soil is not of great quality when it comes to minerals. We are very selenium deficient, so our foods are really lacking the selenium that should be in most plant foods.

Unless food is organic, then there are many chemicals used in pesticides etc which disrupt our bodies from being able to process the nutrients from our food optimally and while our body is struggling to deal with and eliminate these chemicals we have consumed, we can become nutrient deficient at the same time.

Drinking alcohol, smoking/vaping are chemicals that can greatly impact our nutrient status. Also, many medications that people take daily will decrease some nutrients or block these from being absorbed.

Sometimes no matter what we eat, we can still be nutrient deficient as it relies on our gut to be functioning optimally for proper absorption of these nutrients. While correcting any gut issues is key, supplementing with nutrients can help increase our levels faster than relying on foods.

Sometimes we can become nutrient deficient and taking supplementation is therapeutic to reducing the deficiency. Food doesn’t have the same amount of nutrients as a supplement to work at a therapeutic level.

Many people consume fruit and vegetables from supermarkets where they may have been picked around a year prior to you buying it, so there can be nutrient loss through ageing as well as cold storage.

We are required to eat quite a fair bit each day to reach all our recommended daily intakes of nutrients and many people eat packaged processed foods, which do not contain many nutrients at all.

Some dietary choices don’t provide us with certain nutrients at all. For example, vegan or plant-based diets where there is no animal foods consumed at all lacks in vitamin B12. This vitamin can only be obtained from meat, chicken, eggs, fish and dairy. Therefore, a vegan/plant-based lifestyle would require vitamin B12 supplementation. Iron and zinc can also be harder to obtain for this diet, so these can sometimes be required in supplement form.

Fussy eaters may need to take some form of supplementation, depending on how fussy they are as they won’t be getting the nutrition they need if they only eat a few types of foods.

Certain health conditions benefit from supplementation in conjunction with eating an organic wholefoods diet eg diabetes, arthritis, thyroid disorders, gut dysbiosis etc

If you eat a fresh organic whole food diet consuming a variety of foods including many different vegetables, organic grass-fed meat, organic free-range eggs etc, next to no processed/packaged foods and spend ample time in the sun daily, then you will have less chance of needing supplementation. But for the majority of Australians there is a lot of nutrient deficiencies, which are often the cause of many health issues.

There are now many wholefood supplements on the market, so if taking a synthetic supplement doesn’t appeal to you, look out for wholefood varieties.

Check out our blog 'Wholefood or Synthetic Supplements - Which is Better?' here.