You may have asked yourself, “Do I really need to take supplements if I’m eating a healthy, natural diet?” It’s a perfectly valid question.
For many of us, the simple (and surprising) answer is yes. Scientific evidence shows that nutrients are essential parts of our biochemistry and metabolism, enabling the activation of key metabolic processes. At the same time, it’s widely known that deficiencies in nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin B, and magnesium exist in our population. This means that most of us—even the healthy eaters—aren’t refueling our bodies with nutrients as fast as our bodies are using them. Here are the four biggest factors that can keep people from maintaining the right nutrient levels today:
Stress management is a hot topic these days—and with good reason. Stress (even good stress, like what we get from exercise) leads to inflammation in the body—a condition connected to everything from cancer to heart disease. Antioxidants, among them familiar ones like vitamins B and C, help taper that inflammation and the other effects of stress so the body can continue to function healthily and optimally. Several studies have shown a strong correlation between higher levels of stress in the body with low levels of antioxidants, and that (while this could be connected to many things) people who keep their diets full of nutrients tend to suffer less from stress and depression.
Our food chain has suffered from the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They have depleted soils of key minerals—among them, calcium, phosphorus, and iron—which means the plants (or animals) raised on that soil are missing those minerals as well. (In the case of plants, it also means they can’t synthesize all the right vitamins.) This can make the foods you eat incomplete, robbing you of the nutritional support you expect. Case-in-point, an analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 showed that average calcium levels in 12 vegetables had dropped 27 percent. On top of that, a recent study in the Lancet showed that carbon emissions lower the amount of zinc in our crops, and that this is already contributing to zinc deficiencies in our bodies.
Toxic chemicals are found in food, water, air and everyday products like cosmetics and household cleaners. Because they cause inflammation, they’re thought to deplete your body of crucial vitamins and minerals required for detoxification and tissue repair. Smoke, for example, robs the body of vitamin C and E. One recent study found that nutrient deficiencies strongly correlated with highly polluted living conditions.
Even when you eat a healthy diet, certain things can throw you off. Everything from processed foods and sugar to alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs can strain and disrupt your nutrient balance. When you restore balance, you protect your health for the long-term. By giving your body the nutrients it needs, you create the ideal conditions for your cells to properly function and generate energy in your body. This is where supplements become important.
But supplements aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach. As each person's biochemistry is different— driven by a unique combination of the factors described above—everyone requires a different combination of nutrients to reach optimum balance. Testing your current nutrient reserves to understand what imbalances or deficiencies to address can be a good first step.
There are multiple testing options available, however we recommend metabolic nutritional testing, as it measures the vitamins and minerals in your body at a cellular level. It’s also non-invasive, using a small sample of your hair, making it an easy at-home solution. With this information at your fingertips, you can ensure sustainable and results-driven improvement in your overall health.
Sam Bock has over 30 years of experience researching, developing, and testing a wide range of advanced technologies to optimize human health, strength and performance. He has produced a wide range of innovations to improve athletic performance, including metabolic testing, targeted nutrition chemistry programs, and motor-specific training equipment used by Olympic and world record-breaking athletes. A former National Championships athlete and Canadian team coach in bobsledding, Sam has experienced firsthand the nutritional demands required to perform at your best, and he founded Paragon Sciences to analyze the effects of targeted natural nutrients on human physiology.
This post was created in collaboration with Paragon Vitamins.