ARTICLE 10) To Supplement Or Not To Supplement
Author: Donald S. Rehm

The sale of dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs) has become a big business. Some health food stores would be more properly named pill stores because real food is limited or unavailable. Even pharmaceutical companies are getting into the business because they see all the money that consumers are spending on these products. Are supplements really of any value that would justify their high cost?

Humans and animals have gotten along quite well without supplements since life appeared on this earth. Obviously, everything our bodies need to be healthy can be obtained from foods, and optimum health can be obtained by a proper choice of foods. In primitive times, there was no need to choose foods wisely. Foods were not refined, altered, and produced in factories the way they are today. Therefore, today we must "choose" if we want to be healthy.

The manufacturers and sellers of these products say that the products are needed because the food we eat today is grown on poor soil and contains insufficient amounts of the nutrients we need to be healthy. However, even in primitive times, food gatherers came across edible items that they found growing on poor soils. Because such edibles would logically be stunted in growth and lacking in taste and smell, they would be passed over for more appealing foods. Nature's way of helping us choose what is good for our bodies is to ensure that the foods pass several tests before we eat them. They must look enticing, smell good (Ever wonder why your nose is directly above your mouth and not somewhere else?), and taste good.

We can still use the same tools today. We have all come across peaches, for example, that have no smell and taste like cardboard. In fact, it is rare to find a peach that isn't like that. Such food items may logically be assumed to be lacking in vitamins and minerals also, probably because they have been force-grown on impoverished soil by using only the standard NPK inorganic fertilizer elements (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.) The trace minerals, organic matter and other plant nutrients needed to grow nutritious foods are not replaced in the soil. Only organic farming tries to do that. However, when you occasionaly come across a peach that smells delicious and has a juicy, heavenly taste, you can be confident that you are getting the nutrients you need. Compare also our tasteless white bread to the full flavor and taste of whole grain bread.

Another interesting example is the fuss being made over linoleic and linolenic oils, the "essential" fatty acids that we must get in our foods since our bodies can't make them. Various kinds of supplemental oils are sold in bottles and capsules. Did you ever wonder how cows and horses get enough of these oils eating only grass? What about our cousins, the monkeys, living only on fruits and vegetables? Do they include pressed oils in their diet? The answer is that we need such small amounts of these things that even the amount in grass is sufficient. Walnuts are high in both these essential oils. A few walnuts a day will supply all you need if you want to be sure of getting enough.

The lesson here is obvious. Choose all of your foods in this sensible manner and you will have no need for supplements. I have tried supplements on the advice of various "experts" and come to the conclusion that, for me, it is a waste of money that could be better spent on top-quality food. I suspect that over 95% of the money spent on supplements is wasted.

If your diet is lacking in this or that vitamin or mineral, it is probably lacking in a lot of things that may not even be identified yet and therefore can't be put in a bottle. Doesn't it make sense to feed your body nature's way instead?

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