A nutritious diet is a key component in overall health. What you put into your body plays a vital role in how it functions. Everything from physical elements such as cardiovascular and respiratory health to how well you sleep and your psychological state can be greatly affected (both positively and negatively) through diet.
Many people fail to get enough of the essential vitamins and nutrients they need through diet alone for many reasons. Today’s fast-paced lifestyle can make it near impossible to avoid unhealthy eating habits. Furthermore, the cost of some healthier options versus their less nutritious counterparts can make eating well that much more difficult.
How food is produced can also affect nutrition values in even the healthiest of foods. The soil that food grows in is just one step of the entire production process, but it has made a huge difference in the nutritional value of food today because of soil depletion. So, what is soil depletion, exactly? And what does it have to do with supplements?
Here’s why soil depletion has made dietary supplementation a necessity.
Soil depletion is the process of the soil losing its nutrient content. When foods such as vegetables are planted in the ground, they take from what’s around them to build up nutrients within themselves as they mature. The nutrients that are in soil make a huge difference in how much the specific vegetable gets throughout its growth process.
Soil gets its nutrients from many different sources including decomposed animals and animal waste, bacteria conversions, weathering of rocks, and the atmosphere. The main nutrients found in soil are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Magnesium, sulfur, and calcium can also be found in soil.
There are many reasons why soil gets depleted. When it comes to crops, this can happen because the plants need to take nutrients from the soil to grow and mature. It’s a natural process designed to encourage proper growth, but if those nutrients are not replaced back into the soil, that depletion continues, and the next crop grown in the same soil will suffer from a lack of proper nutrients.
Depletion of the soil can also occur because of soil erosion. This happens when the upper layer of soil is displaced. It is a natural process driven by the activity of erosive agents such as water, ice, snow, air, plants, animals, and humans.
Research has shown that each generation of new crops grown in soil that was depleted from the last is less nutrient-dense. One specific study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that there were steady declines in nutritional values of vegetables grown in the same soil. The nutrients in question were protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B2, and vitamin C.
The study monitored crops from 1950 until 1999 to see just how steady of a decline it was, and the results suggested that the nutrient depletion was caused by a push for improving the size, growth rate, and pest resistance of the crops. There was no focus on the soil or the nutritional content of the crops. When this happens in wider agricultural practices, food becomes less healthy over time.
The aforementioned study isn’t the only one to find that there is a steady decline in the nutritional value of crops. Many others have found that to get the same amount of nutrients from the same vegetables as they would have in the past, one would have to eat a lot more. In fact, an article in Scientific American cited one study that found that the vitamin A content of one orange when your grandparents were young was equal to how much vitamin A can be found in eight oranges today.
Although many doctors suggest that food should be the first choice for nutrients, when your diet isn’t giving you everything, you need to turn to other means. The only other surefire way to get all the essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements one needs today is through supplementation.
Basically, eating eight oranges just to get a good amount of vitamin A is just not a feasible option for most people. And since oranges aren’t the only food suffering from a lack of nutrient density, it’s safe to assume that many servings of fruits and vegetables are not providing the nutrients they’re supposed to.
This isn’t to suggest that you should not continue to eat healthily, because wholefoods are still full of nutrients. Rather, managing levels of your vitamins and minerals will be a great place to start when it comes to knowing what nutrients you’re just not getting enough of. Once you figure that out, you can start supplementation.
Gaining everything we need through diet as density of nutrients continues to decline will become an even bigger uphill battle if the soil depletion problem isn’t addressed properly. The good news is that many supplements, such as Vital RX’s, are created with high-quality ingredients designed to offer the best bioavailability and nutrients to give your body everything it needs.