Are vitamin supplements really necessary?
Guest post by the VITL Nutrition team
At VITL, we often asked whether vitamin supplements are necessary, especially when someone is
already following a varied and balanced diet…
But even for the most health-conscious eaters, there are factors that are beyond our immediate
control that can have an effect on our ability to absorb certain nutrients from food. Poor eating
habits are the most obvious reason for inadequate micronutrient levels in the body, but even if
you have a healthy, balanced diet, you may still benefit from incorporating nutritional
vitamin supplements into your diet.
The Modern Diet and Lifestyle
Scientists believe that back in paleo times, humans would have been consuming on average
between 3,000 and 4,000kcal a day, eating significantly larger quantities of food, resulting in a
diet higher in vitamins and minerals. As we are no longer spending our days hunting and
gathering, we burn fewer calories and therefore need to eat less food, resulting in fewer
Additionally, people who further restrict their intake through dieting may struggle to get adequate
nutrients. Vegan diets, for example, do not contain the vitamin B12. Those who limit their
calories or certain food groups by going on diets such as the Atkins or 5.2, may not be
consuming an adequate amount of nutrients for optimal health.
Even the positive food choices we’re making may not be as beneficial as they once were due to
the depletion of nutrients in our food. Intensive, monocrop farming methods have drastically
reduced the level of nutrients in our soil and thus in our foods. According to the Earth Summit
Report (1992), this could be up to 85% over the last 100 years.
The lifespan of humans is increasing and, as we age, we become increasingly depleted in
micronutrients. Medications also affect the micronutrient levels in our bodies and in the case of
antibiotics, healthy bacteria in our gut can be severely disrupted, affecting the absorption of B
vitamins in our body. Further, the contraceptive pill has been shown to decrease levels of zinc,
magnesium and folic acid in the body, and users of statins need to be wary of lower levels of
vitamin D and CoQ10.
Alcohol and Smoking
Studies have shown that smoking and alcohol consumption can also hugely impact the
concentration of vitamins and minerals in the body. Vitamins C, E, and carotenoids in particular,
are affected by smoking. Alcohol consumption can affect our nutrient levels too, reducing levels
of folic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.
Stress creates greater physiological demands on the body, increasing its need for energy,
oxygen, and circulation. This creates a greater need for vitamins, minerals, and nutritionally
dense food. Ironically, people suffering from stress are often drawn towards sugary or fatty
foods, which lack the necessary nutrients the body needs during these times. Stress not only
requires higher levels of nutrients but also depletes levels of existing vitamins and minerals in
the body, exacerbating deficiencies.
Check out Coach Clem’s post on how to get a great nights sleep to find some great stress reducing tips
For those of us who live or work in a city, exposure to heavy pollution is unavoidable. Pollution
has been recorded as preventing adequate sunlight penetrating the earth’s surface and free
radicals in the atmosphere, such as nitric oxides, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, are well-known
oxidants and have been reported to induce organ and cellular damage via generation of free
Omega 3:6 ratio
Historically, humans had far higher levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) than omega-
6 EFA’s. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and have excessive amounts of
omega-6 fatty acids. Excessive amounts of omega-6 have been linked to cardiovascular
disease, cancer and inflammatory and autoimmune disease, however, a sufficient amount of
omega-3 in the diet can have a suppressive effect and could balance out excessive omega 6
consumption. Omega-6 fatty acids are classed as polyunsaturated fats and are growing in
prevalence in modern diets. Vegetable oil, mayonnaise, fast food, biscuits, cakes and sausages
all contain high amounts of these fats.
Take the free VITL Nutrition consultation today to discover which nutrients your body to function at its best with code THELAB50 giving you a 50% discount for your first month courtesy of The Transformation Lab