The month of March is known as National Nutrition Month it is only fitting that we talk about isolated and synthetic vs. whole food nutrients. Vitamins and mineral supplements have generally had a “healthy” reputation, in regards to our diet. However, in past centuries, people were able to stay healthy without supplements because they generally ate a healthier diet than we do today and, therefore, less prone to the degenerative diseases.
Today we are faced with increasing amounts of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. It is now becoming increasingly difficult without supplements. If we take this a step further we can also notice that in the past, foods were grown on small farms in mineral-rich soils. However, today, foods are grown in mineral- deficient soils on “factory farms” where the main goal is to produce high “quantity” rather than high “quality” food. Over the years modern technology has advanced immensely that we can now isolate the vitamins and minerals our modern day diets are lacking.
The question now is, “Is this sufficient to promote optimum health and is this an improvement on what our ancestors did?”
History tells us that when European travelers were crossing the Atlantic Ocean in route to the New World they discovered if they drank fresh lime-juice they did not get scurvy (a Vitamin C deficiency resulting in bleeding gums, weakness and joint pain etc). It wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists finally isolated the beneficial component in citrus fruits as Vitamin C. What we fail to realize is by taking isolated Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid it’s only a temporary fix. As soon as the ascorbic acid is discontinued, the symptoms and disease return. On the other hand if one takes Vitamin C made from an extract of whole green peppers not only do the symptoms disappear and the scurvy is gone when discontinued.
Although technology has been very beneficial in helping us understand the way food and nutrients work, we can now see that isolating and concentrating single nutrients does not have the same effect as using the whole food. When selecting vitamins and supplements, be sure to read the label and look for whole food ingredients. If no foods are listed, then that product may be isolated chemicals and may not provide you with any health benefits. In fact, synthetic vitamin products may actually be harmful and cause health issues in the long run. Eating a diet rich in real, unprocessed whole foods is the best way to ensure you are getting proper nutrition. Added to that, supplementing natural whole food vitamins and minerals can enhance overall nutritional status.
In our practice, we utilize whole food organic supplements. We emphasize a diet rich in whole foods and help patients to return to a more natural way of eating. For more information, feel free to give us a call and schedule a free consultation with one of our Naturopathic Doctors.