Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My take on vitamins - part 1

Foods have vitamins and real foods have real vitamins in abundance, or to put it more generally, they have nutrients.

The concept that foods have nutrients would be so trivial, under normal circumstances, that it would never be stated as if it were a fresh idea.

But now our food doesn't necessarily have nutrients, and I've been noticing ads that try to make us feel that the foods they are trying to sell don't have MANY nutrients, as if fewer were better. One of these downplayed nutrients is FAT (the stuff our brains and nervous systems are made of).

Foods are manufactured, today, to get rid of the "bad" nutrients, the ones the culture has determined are EVIL.

Hold on! How can a nutrient be evil? A nutrient is something that nourishes us, that gives our bodies something they need. We can't live without nutrients, the more the better on average.

But, you may argue, fat is bad because it makes us fat.

Actually, that's not true, as obvious as it sounds. Simple carbs that raise our blood sugar beyond what our activity level can use make us fat. Simple carbs are those that have been extracted from the food crops that grew them. They are broken, partial foods. They are not real foods. And they make us fat and unhealthy.

Kids are not getting fat from potato chips, they're getting fat with simple-carb sweetened sodas.

But I digress. Real foods have nutrients (and not-real foods have few if any nutrients). Real foods have the macros: carbs, fats, and proteins. And they have the micros: vitamins and minerals.

These thoughts are about vitamins. Real foods come with them. We don't need anything but what we get in real food. IF. Big IF.

We don't need to use vitamin supplementation IF:
1. We eat real food and no other food but real food.
2. We eat only fresh real food, no more than hours old when eaten or preserved.
3. We eat real food that was picked when it was ripe, but not over-mature.
4. We eat a variety of real foods.
5. The real foods we eat were grown in healthy, compost-fed soils.
6. The real foods we eat are in a digestible form (or converted into a digestible form through fermentation).
7. The real foods we eat are in season.

IF we can't meet all these standards with every bite we eat, we are getting fewer nutrients than we got when we all relied on growing our own. IF we can't meet these standards, supplementation with vitamins and minerals is essential.

Modern life essentially dictates vitamin/mineral supplementation. When in doubt, supplement. If you feel better, you'll know you were missing something.

More on picking a supplement later.

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