Since the discovery of scurvy, pellagra and beriberi, which are nutritional deficiencies, medical science and nutritional science have come a long way. Today there are at least 25 good reasons for nutritional supplementation of vitamins and minerals.
1. In this day of convenience foods when the diet is overly dependent on highly refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour and rice, there is great demand for an increased or an additional source of the B group vitamins. Lethargy, irritability and sleep disorders are associated with B group deficiencies.
2. Vitamin E in foods can quickly be depleted by freezing or overheating. Also Vitamin E tends to become rancid with the oxidative degradation of the D-alpha-tocoferol. Food processing also dilutes the Vitamin B1 and C.
3. There is a tendency to overcook foods in order to make them softer to eat. The more the food is cooked, the more the protein nature of vitamins creates denaturalization. Also, B6 is destroyed by the microwave irradiation.
4. Smoking is an irritant to the gastrointestinal tract and to the bronchial mucosa. It depletes Vitamin C by at least 30mg per cigarette, or much of the Vitamin C received with food intake. Simply put, smoking is toxic.
5. Drinking too much alcohol is damaging to brain cells, liver cells and pancreas. Alcohol inhibits the ability of the liver to metabolize the normal, healthy HDL and depletes the abnormal LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, there is a depletion of the B group vitamins, the thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, B12, vitamin A and C, as well as the depletion of the minerals zinc, magnesium and calcium. Alcohol further reduces the absorption of other nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract.
6. Hot drinks that are irritating such as hot coffee, teas and spices, are irritating to the gastrointestinal tract and reduce the ability of the digestive linings to absorb and utilize fluids and extract vitamins and minerals from food. Furthermore, those containing caffeine have demonstrated to produce an increased frequency of carcinoma of the bladder and prostate.
7. Inefficient digestion can lead to poor body uptake of vitamins. This results, in many cases, from the inadequate chewing of food and those problems associated with dentures and heavy metal fillings. Root canal procedures can also introduce bacteria and toxins.
8. The overuse of laxatives in today's society results in poor absorption of vitamins and minerals from the food. Paraffin and other mineral oils increase the losses of other minerals such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.
9. The amount of vitamin A, E and D necessary for good health are reduced by people using fad diets. Vegetarian diets leave out B12, which could lead to pernicious anemia.
10. Today's stressful world, associated with both chemical, physical and emotional stresses, increases the body's requirement for Pyridoxine or B6, B5, and Vitamin C. Air pollution increases the requirements for Vitamin E.
11. Five decades of overuse and depletion of the soil nutrients and trace minerals is producing crops that are healthy appearing, but are nutritionally deficient. The levels of essential minerals in crops were found to have declined 68% since the 1970s.
12. The current use of high dose antibiotics is killing the friendly bacteria of the colon, which is responsible for the absorption of the B group vitamins, thus creating increased tendencies to nervous conditions because of the lack of absorption of B group vitamins.
13. Food allergies have become more frequent because of the increasing use of gluten and lactose products in the fast food industry.
14. Accidents and illnesses are resulting in poor nutritional utilization of vitamins and minerals. Tissue from burns, surgery, broken bones, inadequate supply of calcium, vitamin C and the closeness of people leading to infectious disease cause an increased requirement for zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and B5 for healing.
15. Many people are light eaters. They eat sparingly for weight reduction goals. The average woman maintains her weight with 800 calories a day. At this level, her diet is very likely to be low in thiamine, calcium and iron. Other dietary eaters are constantly depriving themselves of foods with nutritional value.
16. The premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, has shown that 60% of the women suffering from premenstrual tension have symptoms that create headaches, irritability, bloatedness, breast tenderness, lethargy, depression and are deficient, in most cases, of vitamin B6.
17. Oral contraceptives decrease the absorption of folic acid and increase the need for vitamin B6 and vitamin C and riboflavin. Twenty-two percent of Australian women, aged 15 to 44, are believed to be on 'the pill' at any one time indicating the nutritional deficiencies mentioned.
18. The teenage rapid growth spurts, especially in girls, place high demands on nutritional resources. In particular, girls require increased nutritional resources to help with the accelerated physical and biochemical emotional development. Nutritional surveys in the United States have shown that 30 to 50% of adolescent girls have dietary intakes below two thirds of the recommended daily averages for vitamin A, C, calcium and iron.
19. Pregnant women who are developing embryo have been shown consistently to require much higher doses of the B group vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, B12, A, D and E, mineral calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorous to prevent the problems of congenital defects often found in children. Because of free radical enzyme deficiencies high dose antioxidants are definitely needed during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins that are available are in many ways deficient on these nutritional requirements.
20. Athletes who consume large amounts of food are affected by considerable injury and stress. They are constantly vitamin and mineral deficient because of the heavy requirement for repair and recovery from heavy workouts.
21. Many people are deficient in sunshine due to indoor work and air pollution. Sunshine is necessary for converting the vitamin D into a usable vitamin for calcium metabolism. Clothing also obstructs the sunlight from reaching the skin where the vitamin D conversion takes place.
22. The overall percentage of elderly people, 85years and older, is increasing. This rapidly growing group has been found to be the most deficient for fiber intake, folic acid, B6, B2, vitamin C, and reduced mineral intake of magnesium. Physical impairments such as poor taste, poor vision, poor senses, chronic disease, reduce their ability to obtain proper nutrition.
23. There are wide fluctuations in individual nutritional requirements from one person to another, the so-called 'bio-individual' problem. Intake of large quantities of protein require excessive B6 and vitamin B1. The average vitamin and mineral intakes vary from one occupation to another. For example, an office worker and a professional athlete.
24. Associated disease, low body reserves and environmental deficiencies can lead to decreased eyesight, sinus and lung infections in the coal miners, or respiratory problems in people working in the fields of San Joaquin Valley from coccidioidomycosis (a respiratory infection that can become chronic and severe).
25. The free radical enzyme systems will vary hereditarily from one family to another and from one stress environment to another; and therefore, free radical enzyme precursors such as glutathione or N-acetyl L-cysteine are necessary supplements for the diet. It is exciting to realize that much of the illness, lethargy and psychological stresses of our modern society are related to nutritional deficiency.
There are many other reasons for nutritional supplementation in the diet; however, the 25 above-mentioned are enough of an encouragement for those seeking optimum health through nutritional supplementation, exercise and a dietary program. (Cell Health & Fitness, Inc. 1995)