The answer is “Yes”! However, many traditional primary care physicians age 45-65 will disagree. The prevailing wisdom as we went through medical school was that one can get all the necessary nutrients through food. And, in the past, you could get most of your nutrients from your 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Now, you need 7-9 servings of the colorful stuff daily and that is hard for most of us to do on a regular basis.
According to a report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “No U.S. state is meeting national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables.”[i]
Another government-funded study concluded that over 80 percent of adults fail to meet daily produce recommendations meant to guide us toward vitamin and mineral adequacy. [ii]
In addition, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that “Nearly the entire US population consumes a diet that is not on par with the recommendations.”[iii]
I suppose we can conclude from these studies, that we are failing at nutrition. However, let’s not miss the bigger question: Why do we need so many more servings? The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion. Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil where our food is grown.
Davis and colleagues published a landmark study on this issue in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition [iv]. They studied US Department of Agriculture nutritional data on 43 different vegetables and fruits from 1950 and again in 1999. They found “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century, an overall average decrease of 28%.
They concluded that efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth. There have likely also been declines in other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E but these were not measured in 1950 so there is no actual comparison data.
What can be done? The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.
In conclusion, getting our necessary vitamins and nutrients from food does not seem like a viable option for most people. Our SAD (Standard American Diet) is simply not meeting our nutritional needs. A multivitamin multimineral supplement is a necessary nutritional safety net! Stay tuned for brand recommendations in a future blog!
Helping you on your path to Optimal Wellness…
[iv] PMID: 15637215