Nutrient data trends published by the United States Department of Agriculture earlier this year revealed that many of our basic foods such as strawberries, apples, onions and carrots are dramatically lower in certain nutrients than they were in 1975. The most dramatic findings were that corn, on average, has experienced a 400% drop in vitamin A and that apples are up to 60% lower in iron. Other nutrients that are less prevalent in our foods include vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium.
Animal products are also becoming less reliable sources of good nutrition. Amounts of essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and vitamin E are tremendously low in grain fed (feed lot) beef indicating that most Canadian consumers are not getting the same amount of nourishment as they were when Canadian cattle were pasture fed on wild grasses.
In fact, the Canadian government is so concerned about the lack of nutrient quality in the typical Canadian diet that it enforces mandatory fortification of certain food products. The most well know of these is folic acid. In 1998 the federal government made the fortification of flour (with folic acid) mandatory; this in the hopes of preventing birth defects. According to Health Canada, “adding vitamins and minerals to food plays a valuable role in maintaining and improving the nutritional quality of the Canadian food supply”, reinforcing the fact that we are unable to meet our nutritional needs from our basic food choices.
While many factors, such as weather and soil quality can contribute to low nutrient levels in food crops and while some organic food has proven to be very high in essential nutrients, our food is still generally less nutritious that it was a generation ago. Pollution, intensive farming practices and long transportation times have all reduced nutrient content.
These findings should be of particular concern to seniors because aging bodies are less efficient at digesting and absorbing many different types of nutrients. Supplementing with basic vitamins and mineral combinations like calcium – magnesium (Vitamin with D3) has become a modern reality. Nutrients from natural sources like soy, rosemary and saw palmetto have shown to be the most easily absorbed and utilized. Look for companies advertising pure product that is free from fillers and allergens like yeast, dairy, sugar and wheat. They provide the most value and benefit.
Mature individuals looking for a larger combination of nutrients in one supplement or a natural meal replacement may want to include a whole foods formula in their daily routine. Examples of whole foods formulas include fish oil (high in omega oils) and green food powders with spirulina or alfalfa. These supplements usually contain several antioxidants, enzymes, a wide variety or vitamins and minerals and/or probiotics and healthy fats.
If you wish to improve any area of your health and well being, stop and evaluate your diet. Consult a natural health care practitioner if you are uncertain about your dietary needs.