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Are nutritional supplements needed if my diet is good?

  [ 48 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Dr. Sarah Myhill, MD • • November 14, 2009

Are nutritional supplements needed if my diet is good?

Q: I eat a pretty good diet with lots of fruits & veggies. Also, I have been taking vitamin D in winter when I can’t get out in the sun. So generally do you think supplements - or a "multi" - would really be needed?

A: Everybody can benefit from taking nutritional supplements regularly. I do. My reasons are as follows:

1. We evolved over millions of years requiring a high calorie diet. Man was physically active requiring energy to keep warm, hunt, gather, fish and fight. Modern man is a lounge lizard by comparison. We simply do not need to eat as much. Because we eat less calories, we eat fewer vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids which would accompany those calories.

2. There is a one-way cycle of trace elements from the soil, into plants and animals, into us, then out into the sea. We are not recycling composted human sewage onto the land and so we are out of balance. Trace elements in the soil are being depleted and not replaced, so we too are becoming deficient.

3. Plants cannot absorb trace elements directly from the soil. They rely on fungi called mycorrhiza which cover the root hairs, absorb soil water and trace elements, and put them into a bioavailable form for the plants to absorb. Artificial nitrogen and pesticides kill mycorrhiza and so chemical farming gives us malabsorbing plants.

4. Plants grown on chemical fertilizers grow rapidly and outstrip their trace element supplies.For example, cows put on such “flushed” grass may develop grass staggers - acute magnesium deficiency.

5. We tend to eat foods which have been processed, so many nutrients are lost, and these losses are accelerated by sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and other such social poisons (delightful though they may be!).

6. We are increasingly exposed to toxins which require vitamins and minerals for their excretion. These toxins effectively increase our needs for all nutrients. The commonest cause for iron deficiency anemia in this country [the UK] is tea drinking. Tea contains tannin which binds (chelates) trace elements including iron and so blocks their absorption. More obvious toxins include pesticide residues, lead, mercury (in fillings), cadmium (smoking), aluminum (water), volatile organic compounds (perfumes, solvents, exhaust fumes), and so on - a seemingly endless list.

7. The rate of human evolution is accelerating all the time. We are all called upon to make changes to our lives all the time. This is very stressful. Western man has probably never been so stressed on an everyday basis, and this increases nutritional demands.

Importantly, 98% of all body tissues are replaced every six months. It may take this time to get the full benefit from supplements.

My family are hopeless at taking supplements so I put them into the cooking. Fruit salad gets a sprinkling of vitamin C, oils and minerals get squirted into stews, mashed potato, and soups. It is impossible to disguise the B vitamins, so they go on the table with breakfast and I bully my girls until they get swallowed. Actually, now they are at University, they have found they do not feel well unless they take supplements – they even telephone me for orders!

- Dr. Sarah Myhill, MD
* This material is reproduced here with kind permission of the author, Dr. Sarah Myhill, MD, from her patient-information website ( R Sarah Myhill Limited, Registered in England and Wales: Reg. No. 4545198.

Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any illness, condition, or disease. It is essential that you make no additions to or changes in your health support plan or regimen without first researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.

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