Why We Supplement & The Most Universally Beneficial Supplements
There are so many important supplements out there, and so many claims about what you should be taking. If we took every piece of advice out there we'd all be taking 80 supplements a day, and I've heard of some people who do exactly that. But I don't think that's healthy. I don't want a single person to be taking 80 supplements. In a perfect world the supplement companies would go out of business because we wouldn't need any of them.
Sadly, we don't live in a perfect world, and for most of us, some supplements are necessary. There are many reasons this is the case, I'm going to talk about a few of them.
The first reason is that we are eating foods that have a lower concentration of nutrients. I have heard throughout my career about the depletion of the soil (of nutrients) and I suspect this does play a role although I haven't read much research on this. Another aspect comes from how much we have increased our food production. Through pesticides and herbicides, as well as irrigation, we have increased crop yields. Some farming products have gotten larger, other have stayed the same size but the plant produces more of them, and with others more plants can be grown in the same or smaller land area. In short, we've made food production more efficient, if all you care about is quantity. But with this increase in quantity has come. Decrease in quality. While the land and the plants can be driven to increase their yield, it hasn't come with an increase in nutrients, this results in good with lower nutrient levels.
The second reason for our need for supplements that I want to discuss is our activity levels. Our society as a whole is currently considered, not sedentary, but super-sedentary. We are inactive. We have created a society where it is literally possible to survive without leaving your home (this has never been more clear than during COVID). This has resulted in a need for fewer calories. However, the decrease in activity level, surprisingly, does not come with as much of a decreased need for vitamins and minerals. So with our super-sedentary lifestyle, if we eat an appropriate amount of calories, we likely will not meet all our nutrient needs.
Given these two realities, plus more that I have not discussed, many of us will need to supplement our diets to stay healthy. With this in mind, I'm going to talk about the supplements I find the most important. These are the supplements that benefit the greatest number of people most of the time. These aren't necessarily the supplements that are exactly what YOU need right NOW. You might have an individual health situation that would make some other supplement more important for your health, at least in the short term. But these supplements are the ones that, if they were given ti everyone on the planet, would result in the greatest overall improvement of health in the population. In short, if I were designing a public health initiative, these supplements would be a part of it.
The supplents are: calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, fish oil (or omega 3s), B vitamins (predominately B6 and B12), and iodine. Each of these is important enough that I will devote a post to each, so if you're interested in learning why I find each of these so important, watch for the upcoming posts.