Why do we need vitamins?
I pondered this very question a while ago – why do we need vitamins in the first place?
The first thing that struck me was that nearly everyone I knew had a health problem of some sort – no one was perfectly healthy.
I wondered – did I just hang around with sick people or what?
Sadly – no.
Very few people are functioning at their peak
I found a very interesting document called the UK National Diet and Nutritional Survey that revealed some shocking statistics about the average Joe and answers the question of "why do we need vitamins?".
1) The UK has the highest incidence of Cardio-Vascular Disease (CVD) in Europe
2) 44% of men and 46% of women have one or more chronic illness
3) 65% of men and 56% of women are overweight or obese
4) 26% of the UK population has categorised their health as only fair to very bad
There is a large segment of the population that is categorised as the “walking unwell”.
They are people who are affected with various illnesses, who are sick, but they are so used to feeling bad that they don’t recognise that they are ailing.
Tiredness, occasional exhaustion and just generally feeling under par are the most common symptoms.
They attribute these occasional feelings to ageing or a tough night out, not even recognising that they are not functioning as well as they could be.
Why is everyone not functioning at their peak?
The general consensus seems to be that life style factors are causing us to become one of the unhealthiest societies of all time.
The commonly cited factors are
1. Lack of exercise
2. Smoking and
3. Insufficient nutrition
There are plenty of books and websites out there on the first two; it was the last bit about nutrition that really cornered my attention.
We have access to more types of foods that ever before. Organic meat, free-range eggs and all sorts of healthy options – right?
They don’t make them like they used to
The average mineral content for fruits and vegetables has severely declined over the last 50 years due to soil depletion.
Between 1940 and 1991 magnesium has declined by 25%, calcium by 47%, iron by 36% and copper by 62% (1).
Thanks to soil depletion, the veggies we eat simply aren’t as healthy as they used to be.
Why do we need vitamins - because you aren't getting what you used to in your food!
Assuming that we do eat enough fruits and vegetables - which most people in the Western world don’t.
Take vitamin C for example.
A Stone Age diet would have supplied us with about 400mg a day, where the average intake today is approximately 58mg. (2)
In short, we are overfed and undernourished.
Shouldn’t I be able to eat all the nutrients I need?
Theoretically, yes. Practically, no.
I did a quick calculation, based on the Recommended Daily Allowances (the jury is out whether these are enough) and the US Department of Agriculture database to see how much I would have to eat to supply the nutrients I need.
Take a look at the table below and make a decision on the question of "Why do we need vitamins".
That’s a lot of healthy food!
Although there is crossover in these foods (the raw oranges contain other vitamins as well) it is still a lot of food to consume in an average day.
I looked at this and decided it was practically impossible to maintain my health without supplements of some kind.
Am I the only one?
Why do we need Vitamins?
The October 2002 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a research study showing categorically that everyone should be taking a supplement.
Quite a few people follow that advice - over 40% of UK women and 29% of UK men take some form of supplement. (3)
The figures for the United States are around 40% for both sexes.
Apparently there are quite a few million people out there who came to the conclusion I did.
In the end, only you can decide if you want to take vitamins as an addition to your diet.
If you have decided that you want to look further, feel free to take a look at some of the suppliers that we found sharing pure, high quality vitamins of all types.
1 – McCance and Widdowson, Composition of Foods, 1st and 5th Editions, Royal Society of Chemistry and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
2- Council for Responsible Nutrition
3 – Office of UK National Statistics, National Diet and Nutrition Survey
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