Our body needs large range of vitamins and minerals to function smoothly. Body obtain these from the food that we take on daily basis. If our food is not adequate in providing vitamins and minerals, than we need to take food supplement or dietary supplement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_supplement to compensate. Therefore food supplement is essential to help the body function at its best.
I can site the example of tuition or home assistance for study to our child. It is nothing but “supplementation” to teachings the child got in school. This has become necessary to provide the child an extra handholding so that his learning is thorough and competitive. Same is the case for food.
The food we take fall short of many requirements that the body needs for smooth functioning. It is not so that body will not function with these shortcomings, like the child who will not fail. But over a period it will come to a situation where it will become difficult to get ahead. That’s the time a person fall sick. To avoid this compromise that body undergo due to inadequate intake of requirements one must resort to food supplementation
Inadequacy of nutrition in food is not a recent discovery. It was there in ancient time too. But people were not aware. With the progress of scientific research, it has become clear that adequate food with good nutrition could be the basis for a happy, healthy & optimum life. And if we are not in a position to intake adequate nutritious food we should go for supplement.
The concept of food supplement become known since 1930s but it gathered momentum only in 1970s in US. In India it has become popular and somewhat acceptable only since 2000. There is a long way to go in terms of bringing awareness and making it available to all. With this background, let me point out why it has now become paramount to take food supplement.
# 1 Depleting soil quality
Currently farmers use land intensively for farming without allowing nutrients to naturally replenish in the soil. There is tremendous pressure on the same plot of land to produce more with addition of chemical fertilizers. This trend has become more evident with an objective of ‘get more in less time’ to cater the ever growing demand of the burgeoning population. Obviously, plants, vegetables grown on such land will not have sufficient supply of nutrient. The plants, vegetables itself is deficient; therefore the food prepared out of it will also be deficient in nutrition.
# 2 Hybrid seeds
The farmers also use hybrid seeds to to get more in less time. Even in organic farms also hybrid seeds are used. They yield more food per acre. But the crops often have much lower nutrient content. The hybrid seeds are capable of giving bigger fruits or vegetable in less time. It is not a natural process of growth. You may have noticed that certain vegetables grow in a specific seasons. But same vegetable now a day is available around the year. Such vegetables are grown with the help of hybrid seed under a controlled environment.
# 3 Missing trace elements
Traditionally manures are used extensively as fertilizers. It contains many nutrients for the plant including trace elements. Examples of trace element include copper, iron, zinc, chromium, cobalt, iodine, molybdenum, and selenium. Their requirement in human body per day is below 100 mg. Modern fertilizer contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus which don’t carry those trace elements of manure. That’s the reason we find significant difference in taste and aroma in modern day vegetables and fruits. Trace materials have a big role to play in human body. The deficiency of these elements is rare but may prove fatal.
# 4 Pesticides and herbicides
Soil microorganisms are needed to make minerals and other nutrients available in plants. However, use of pesticide and herbicides damages soil microorganisms and reduce the nutrition of the crops. Also our bodies require extra nutrient to process pesticide residues that remain inside the foods. Many of these chemicals are harmful to our body. Pesticides can cause short-term adverse health effects called acute effects. It may also cause chronic adverse effects that can occur months or years after exposure. Examples of acute health effects include stinging eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and even birth defects. Pesticides also have the potential to harm the nervous system, the reproductive system, and the endocrine system.
# 5 Long distance transportation
As soon as crop/fruit is harvested, the levels of certain nutrients begin to diminish. It can be week between when the vegetable and fruits were picked, transported, packed, stored and sold. Then again we buy and store in our home either cooked or uncooked. This substantially reduces the nutrition level of our foods. Generally, a plant or fruits preserve its nutrient at peak level till one hour from plucking. Thereafter its nutritional value goes down. The vegetables or fruits that we buy from departmental stores or open market especially in urban are minimum 3 to 7 days old. Therefore, they have already lost its nutrition value by 30-50%.
# 6 Processed food
In our fast paced life obvious choice is processed food. It takes less time to cook. It is convenient. In some cases it is ready to it without further processing. But processed food drastically reduces the nutrient value. For example, the refining of wheat to make white flour removes approximately 80% of its magnesium, 70-80% of zinc, 87% of its chromium, 88% of its manganese and 50% of its cobalt. Similarly, polished rice removes about 75% of its zinc and chromium. The processed food also carries lot of preservative to increase its self-life.
# 7 Food additives
The artificial flavours, colours, stabilizers and preservatives are added to a large proportion of packaged foods. These ingredients definitely give taste on our tongue. Also increases its self-life, making it convenient to eat over a period of time. But they all are not harmless. Many of them are toxic and can deplete the body of nutrients.
# 8 Weak digestion
Currently, it is one of the most common health complaints. Again this is linked to irregular eating habits, poor quality food etc. People with impaired digestion often don’t absorb nutrients sufficiently, which further increase nutritional needs.
# 9 Stress
In modern day life stress is inevitable. The major cause of stress are professional life, personal life, peer pressure, pollution, commutation etc. Being under a lot of stress can deplete many nutrients including calcium, magnesium and zinc. Among other implications, stress reduces digestive strength. This, in turn, reduces nutrient absorption and utilization even further.
# 10 Unhealthy lifestyle
It’s not always external factor that contribute to deficiencies, but our internal factors as well such as inadequate rest, irregular eating habits, our mental attitude, sedentary lifestyle, consumption of alcohol, smoking, preference for junk food, exposure to pollution etc. These unhealthy lifestyle increases requirement of extra nutritional support to combat the bad effect of these factors. It is pretty natural that the food consume on the run of life is not sufficient to meet the extra nutritional support. Only alternative is food supplement.
There are many other reasons to justify requirement of food supplement. I mentioned just 10 (ten). I hope it will create enough spark in our mind to go for food supplement so that we don’t miss out those important nutrients. If you had been avoiding food supplement, you can start taking now. As per scientific finding human body gets renewed every 3 months. You can wipe out the bad effects of low nutrition, by adopting healthy food and supplement from now onwards for rest of your life. At the end of the day we all desire a happy healthy life and this is within our control