The five essential nutrients you should supplement daily

TheBig5graphicWe live in a polluted and crowded world.

Our lives are filled with stress. Most of our food is infused with chemicals–or, at the minimum, have chemicals covering the surface.

Most people agree that nutritional supplements can help offset the side-effects of this modern living.

But where do you start? If a person could boil everything down to the most essential nutrients that the average person needs on a daily basis, what would they be?

In this article we will list what we feel are the five essential nutrients you should supplement daily. We will also briefly summarize how modern living creates the need for supplementing these five particular nutrients.

For the purpose of this summary, we are not referring to individualized supplementing—such as taking specific nutrients for helping with sleep or building muscle—but what the average person needs for normal daily supplementing.

Put another way, you could say these are the five essential nutrients for general health maintenance.

Vitamins

This is perhaps the most obvious nutrient to include in the list. For most people supplementing with vitamins is a given–and with good reason.

going back thousands of years, ancient health practitioners have known certain herbs could help alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases and health conditions.

In more modern times, one of the most important discoveries that directly linked a nutrient deficiency to a specific disease occurred when a Scottish surgeon in the Royal Navy, James Lind, demonstrated in experiments that the dreaded disease scurvy could be treated with citrus fruit. He described his experiments in his 1753 book A Treatise of the Scurvy.

Today, anyone can lookup online the long list of ailments caused by inadequate amounts of any particular vitamin; however, even armed with this information, research shows most people still do not consume sufficient amounts of most vitamins.

Most of the blame for this lies in the consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD). These diets—rich in processed, chemical-laden and sugar-filled foods—simply do not provide an adequate vitamin intake, regardless of the amount of food consumed.

Perhaps the best example of this is vitamin D. During the past 20 years study after study has linked low vitamin D levels to one health condition after the other; yet blood serum testing persistently shows the majority of people are still vitamin D-deficient.

Minerals

For many people minerals are just an afterthought. They are so bombarded with literature and television ads promoting the benefit of this vitamin and that vitamin that they completely overlook minerals. But they are just as important—and for some ailments, even more important.

From healthy skin and hair to proper functioning of the brain, eyes and heart, adequate levels of a number of different minerals is crucial. And what about building muscle?

Many people are so captivated with consuming gallons of the latest protein powder, they completely forget about the lowly minerals that are also critical in forming and maintaining muscles.

The primary reason it is necessary for most people to add minerals to their supplementing regimen is as simple as it is profound: modern farming techniques have depleted the soil of many of the minerals it once contained, leaving our foods with far less mineral content than in times past.

We don’t know how much the mineral counts have declined from 100 years ago, since the data doesn’t exist; however, American studies covering 1950 to 1999 demonstrated notable declines of various minerals in 43 different fruits and vegetables. And a British study covering 1930 to 1980 found substantial declines of calcium, iron and potassium in 20 vegetables.

To learn more about this issue, please read our article Modern Farming Depleting Nutrients.

Probiotics

In a contest of determining the most critical nutrient, probiotics would certainly go head-to-head with vitamins and minerals. Some natural health practitioners even feel probiotics are more important.

For at least 100 years we have known that supplementing probiotics will have positive health results. In fact, just a few months ago we presented our readers with an article on one doctor who was implanting probiotics rectally in his patients in the late 1800s.

The reason probiotics—also called ‘good bacteria’—are so important is because they are your body’s first line of defense against invading disease. A healthy person should maintain two to three pounds of healthy, living, active probiotics in his or her gut.

Unfortunately, though, many aspects of modern living destroy the probiotic supply in the gut.

The long list of probiotic-killing activities we participate in include taking prescription drugs, especially antibiotics; exposure to chemicals and pollution; consuming processed foods; dealing with stress continually; being exposed to x-rays and other radiation; and drinking carbonated beverages and certain types of alcohol.

Simply put, just living in the modern world causes havoc in your body’s probiotic supply. And, unless you are eating a wide array of properly-fermented traditional foods on a regular basis, the probiotic supply you were originally born with will need to be “restocked” by supplementation.

To learn more about probiotics, please read our Introduction to Probiotics article.

Enzymes

Enzymes are the least-known of the five essential nutrients. Enzymes are a group of organic proteins known as amino acids. They are small chemical digesters, or ‘activists’ that break apart vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and absorb them into every cell in the living body.

But enzymes go far beyond digestion… they are necessary for ALL physiological processes.

There are at least 75,000 enzymes at work in your body. Enzymes drive energy production and absorption of oxygen. They fight infections and heal wounds. They build raw materials, circulate nutrients and eliminate unwanted chemicals.

Enzymes actively dissolve blood clots and carry away toxic wastes. They regulate hormones, break down fats, deliver nutrients into cells, and slow the aging process.

So where do these little miracle healers come from? Well, they don’t come from cooked and processed foods; they don’t come from vegetable oils; and they don’t come from sugar. And since these types of enzyme-deficient foods are so prevalent in the western diet, most of us can benefit from supplementing with enzymes.

Enzymes are present in raw foods, and sometimes in low-heat and flash-cooked Asian style foods, provided the heat has not been applied too high and too long. If these foods are all you eat, then you may not benefit from enzyme supplements for digestion; however, like vitamins, you can still benefit from supplementing them due to the wide array of other bodily processes the enzymes support.

To learn more about enzymes, please read our Introduction to Enzymes article.

Antioxidants

We’ve known about the healing and disease-preventing properties of antioxidants for a long time. But just in the last 10 years have we seen a virtual eruption of research, news coverage and products entering the marketplace. Even the smoothie store at your local mall now touts the “antioxidant benefit” of the fruits and veggies in their drinks.

Here’s the reason for the headlines: Antioxidants fight the inflammation in the body caused by poor diet, drugs, chemicals, stress, toxins and other sources. They fight the “free radicals” that wreak so much havoc in our bodies–the free radicals that cause cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and a myriad of other diseases.

While fruit, especially berries, seem to receive the most coverage regarding “high antioxidant rating,” many herbs offer high-ranking antioxidant benefits too, and can easily be reduced to make antioxidant supplements.

And while taking a supplement each day in no way replaces a diet high in fruits, vegetables and herbs, most people do not come close to consuming a diet that it is half to two-thirds fruit and vegetables—as they should—so the extra boost from a good supplement is a wise investment.

 

 

 

 

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